Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin (Likud) expressed his admiration Wednesday for the children in the Samaria town of Itamar on their first day back to school for the new year. Among the sites Rivlin visited was the house where the Fogel family was murdered earlier this year. He was accompanied by Gershon Mesika, head of the Shomron (Samaria) Regional Council).
The Knesset Speaker also visited the yeshiva headed by IDF Brigadier General (res.) Rabbi Avichai Ronsky, where Rabbi Udi Fogel taught. Fogel was murdered by two teenaged Arab terrorists along with his wife and three of their six children, including an infant, while they were sleeping following the Sabbath meal on a Friday night. A Beit Medresh is currently being built in his memory.
“The people of Itamar have passed a real experience that no one could help, and they overcame this experience. We have to appreciate them," Rivlin said. "I chose to open the school year here in Itamar because people who have managed to overcome such a tragedy are really the ones who should be really appreciated by every one of us. We would like to identify ourselves with those people of Itamar – and especially with those children – who have managed to overcome the crisis that they have passed this year.
“It is impossible not to admire the heroism of those who live here,” he added. “These people are a paragon of strength, for Jews who are returning to their Land. There is no right or left once we are talking about the conflict and the tragedies, the consequences of this conflict."
Rivlin also noted that on his way to the town from Jerusalem, the road on which he traveled had been filled with both Israelis and Palestinian Authority Arabs.
“Peace will be achieved here only when everyone will really want to live together,” he said. “Itamar is not an obstacle to peace, and [peace] will be achieved if the Palestinians want real peace.” He added that the conflict between the PA and Israel should, however, be settled by politicians, and not on the backs of the children, whose primary task it is simply to attend class and to learn.
Mesika, who had traveled together with Rivlin, added his hope that the government would “succeed in giving these wonderful children the classrooms they deserve, as Israeli children elsewhere in the country.
“We expect the Israeli government to stop preventing the construction of classrooms and schools … and to allow every boy and girl to attend school in the same conditions as any other child in the country.
The two officials wrapped up their visit to the town with a tasting tour that offered nibbles of locally-made organic yogurts, cheeses and olives produced at Itamar's “Givat Olam” farm.