Merkaz HaRav Families Urge PM: Don't Give in to Terror
The families of the victims of the Merkaz HaRav massacre have petitioned Prime Minister Netanyahu not to "give in to terror," as the Chinese government exerts pressure on Israel not to back an American-initiated lawsuit against the Bank of China for allegedly funding deadly terrorist activity.
The lawsuit was filed in 2007 by Jewish American citizens Yekutiel and Sheryl Wultz, after their 16-year-old son, Daniel, was murdered the previous year in an Islamic Jihad terrorist attack in Tel Aviv. According to the Wall Street Journal, it was the Israeli government who urged the Wultz's to file the suit and take advantage of tough new US anti-terror laws. The Israeli government promised to provide intelligence regarding the involvement of Chinese banks in funneling money to terrorist groups, including Islamic Jihad.
However, the current Israeli government has since appeared to be backtracking, amid widely-reported claims that the Chinese government pressured Netanyahu to prevent a key intelligence official from testifying, in exchange for a high-profile visit to China this past May, which promoted highly lucrative trade ties between Israel and China.
In a letter, signed by the families and rabbis of the eight young high school and post high school yeshiva students, murdered by an Arab gunman while studyiing Torah in the Merkaz HaRav Yeshiva library in 2008, tthe Prime Minister was reminded of his address to the families of the victims, one year after the attack.
"As you know, some of those families suing the Bank of China are the families of those killed in the terrible attack... on the Merkaz Harav Yeshiva in Jerusalem. On that accursed day eight young, innocent students were murdered," they wrote.
"At the [first] memorial of the attack you came to Merkaz HaRav and addressed the gathering crowd [saying]: 'A year ago a major disaster befell the people of Israel. Eight of our sons fell as martyrs while studying Torah. They fell at the hands of murderers who, if they had the chance, would have murdered us all. They tried to cut down our spiritual strength and that is why they came here. In the course of the last year, we have seen that they failed. We received additional proof of this several months ago, in an operation against terror in Gaza. The entire nation of Israel enlisted, including yeshiva students, who also paid a price. To the families, I say: accept this day as a consolation, and I believe that with our joint strength, we will overcome all of our enemies, in the future as well, and achieve peace for our land and our city.'
"Today, 4.5 years after that speech, we ask the honorable prime minister not to surrender to the Chinese demands,” the families wrote. “We are confident that in the overall national view of things, you see yourself as heading the nation and the families in the fight against terror, even in the face of heavy pressure from a foreign country, and [contradictory] interests – important as they may be.
"In friendship and respect, we ask that you stand firm in the war of the Nation of Israel against terror and to make clear to the Chinese that the state of Israel will not be dictated to in this matter.”
"We call on Your Honor to come out with a clear statement that the State of Israel will give the required assistance to the families, as was promised by your office, so that they can receive justice vis-a-vis the terror organizations and their accomplices.”
The letter is signed by Rabbi Yaakov Shapira, Dean of Merkaz Harav Yeshiva; Rabbi Yerachmiel Weiss, Dean of the Hgh School (Yerushalayim Yeshiva for Youths); Rabbi Elyashav and Moriya Avichail, parents of Segev Pniel Hy”d; Rabbi Tuvia and Tzofiya Lifshitz, parents of Yochai Hy”d; Rabbi Tzemach and Elisheva Hirshfeld, parents of Yonadav Haim Hy”d, and Naftali Moses, father of Avraham David Hy”d; Dror and Avital Eldar, parents of Yonatan Yitzhak Hy”d.