An entire nation stood mourning at the open graves of Gil-ad, Eyal and Naftali, united in grief, aching and stunned at the youthful glow and purity, the loving hopes of parents shattered in an instant by bestial murderers who took advantage of the innocent boys' trust in them. The memory of the three will remain in our midst and the events of the past few weeks will accompany our nation in Israel and the Diaspora for a long, long time.
Accusing fingers are pointed at Hamas, and I believe that the Israeli government has proof of the movement's involvement, or that of its members, in the despicable crime. Except that I do not only accuse Hamas, just as I would not accuse a poisonous viper for biting a child whose father brought the snake home and freed him to roam about at will inside it. The snake is not guilty because it is in his nature to bite. The father is the guilty party, and everyone understands that.
In the case of the boys, the guilty party is also whoever brought the snake inside the house and allowed him freedom to move around undisturbed.
The problem began in the eighties, when the Coordinator of Activities in the Territories decided to encourage and fund "Almajama Alislami" - The Islamic Center - despite warnings he received from Gaza that this was not a social welfare agency but a particularly violent sector of the Muslim Brotherhood. Towards the end of 1987, when the first Intifada broke out, the "Almajama" founders of Hamas encouraged the violence.
The guilt continues on to 1993 when President Bill Clinton pressured Israel to allow 415 leaders of Hamas and Islamic Jihad, all of whom had been banished to Lebanon after the kidnapping-murder of Border Police soldier Nissim Toledano, to return.
Just as guilty are the members of Israeli and world media who presented these terrorist leaders as unfortunates suffering from the inclement weather of Marj-a-Zohor, where they remained living in tents so as to appeal to the world's mercy.
But the greatest guilt lies on the shoulders of those of us who thought, in 1993, that if they would bring back the PLO and arch-terrorist Yasser Arafat at its head to Israel, he would "take care of Hamas without the courts and without Betselem" [a reference to Yitzchak Rabin's remark that Arafat would destroy Hamas without leftist NGO's turning to the Supreme Court to limit his activities as they do to the IDF, ed.].
That's how they sold us the Oslo Accords. They knew perfectly well that Arafat was lying through his teeth, but they ignored all warnings, helping him create a terrorist network in the heart of the Land of Israel. In all of history there has never been a Trojan horse as dangerous and as massive as this one. They allowed him to bring an army of terrorists in the expectation that he - our greatest enemy - would ensure our security. They hid the recording of Arafat's 1994 speech in Johannesburg, South Africa, in which he admitted publicly that the Oslo Accords are nothing but a temporary peace - a "Hudaybiyya peace" with heretics to which Muslims are allowed to agree, until such time as the chance to destroy the heretics arrives.
We are guilty for building a system of security cooperation with a terrorist authority, that used it as an opportunity to learn about our intelligence capabilities. We gave them information about terrorists and they created a revolving door for them: play backgammon by day at the police station, plan and carry out terrorist operations at night.
We allowed the terrorist authority to run a school system whose books show "Falestin" without the State of Israel and did nothing about it.
We allowed Arafat to build a communications system - TV and radio - which he used to incite against us, talking openly about "victory". He inflamed his listeners with the slogan "a million shaheeds will march on Jerusalem" and we did not react.
"Refraining from reacting is [a sign of] strength" they told us, without realizing that in the MIddle East, not reacting is interpreted as weakness and silence as fear. Our side did not want to see what really was going on and did not exact a price for Arafat's two-faced behavior. "He is only saying it for internal consumption" we were told by the knights of Oslo, whose eyes were on the Nobel Prize they would share with the terrorists.
Some of us became wealthy from economic cooperation with the Palestinian Authority, built casinos with them, sold them oil and founded "Peace Organizations" with them - the latter serving no use except as a pipeline for funding and oiling the terror machinery aimed at us.
And then the "savior" arrived on the scene, Mahmoud Abbas, Arafat's deputy and disciple, and they called him "the man of peace". They ignored his Holocaust denial, his books dripping with venom against Israel and Zionism, not comprehending that his only wish was to lull Israel into the sweet illusion that he wants to create a state that will recognize Israel as the home of the Jewish people, that he will reach a compromise on Jerusalem, will relinquish the demand for what is termed the "right of return".
They practically made a mantra of the claim that Abbas has "given up his home in Tsfat" in order to create the false illusion among their listeners that millions of Arabs will stand in line behind him to relinquish the homes they claim were theirs in the Land of Israel.
It gets worse. We never threatened Arafat or Abbas with dismantling the Authority unless it in its turn dismantles Hamas and other terrorist organizations and puts an end to their presence in the PA. Terrorist leaders never felt any threat to their position or status. They laughed at us all the way to the bank in which we made sure to deposit the tax and customs monies that we collected for them. They - the corrupt leaders who stole the donations they received from the world - were partners with the corrupt figures among us who signed meaningless agreements with them.
Did anyone hear us threatening the Authority with dismantlement if it goes to the UN to obtain unilateral international recognition in contravention of the Oslo Accords?
During the past few years, we observed how the PA allowed Hamas to take root and expand its presence in Judea and Samaria, and we did nothing. We saw how Hamas got 40% of the vote in the Beir Zeit University student union, and we remained silent. We heard Hassan Yussef, the Hamas leader in Samaria, give a speech at that university while our supporters of academic freedom hemmed and hawed. We saw Hamas manage to put its representatives into municipal authorities in Judea and Samaria and let them get away with it. We saw their "social welfare" organizations sprouting like mushrooms after the rain, allowing it to occur and to progress, although we know well that all these organizations do is gain the hearts of followers for the planned jihad against us.
We allowed the Authority to pay enormous salaries to terrorists with blood on their hands while imprisoned, and did not put a stop to this "money for encouraging murders". We allowed the Hamas television stations to beam into Judea and Samaria and spread the message that "we are the boss here". We gave in to American pressure and allowed Hamas to run for the legislature in 2006 and watched it gain a majority of seats, turning into a "democratic" political entity despite its murderous ideology.
We went to bed with the PLO and woke up with Hamas lying beside us, doing nothing to dismantle the Authority whose political mask fell, revealing its terrorist face.
Our judicial system has forced the government to take down roadblocks that once limited the ability of terrorists to move freely on the roads and kidnap youngsters.
Do-gooder Israeli and international organizations emasculated the IDF's ability to function as it should and turned it into a scarecrow that no one fears. We reached the point where every soldier and officer needs a lawyer before he blows his nose, because he might disturb the unfortunate Palestinians.
There are those among us who agreed to the American idea of arming, funding and training a Palestinian army, expecting this force to protect us from Hamas and the Jihadists from the east. "In the era of missiles, we don't need the Jordan Valley", they said to us. "Better peace than territory", said the self-appointed "experts".
There are those among us who believe that international guarantees are worth more than potato peels, and are prepared to endanger Israel just so that a few Europeans - who have lost their own countries to immigrants from all over the world - might deign to smile at them.
There are those who, for personal business reasons, are willing to give up the land that the international community bequeathed us at the 1920 San Remo Conference.
There are those who sold us and the world the hallucinatory concept of a "New Middle East" in which the wolf lies down with the lamb, Sunnis with Shiites, Kurds with Arabs, Jews and Muslims, and all of them sit around the campfire singing "Kumbaya" in perfect harmony - if only we would give the Palestinian Arabs a state in Israel's heartland, one with territorial contiguity from the outskirts of Beer Sheva to the suburbs of Afula, one which would protect us from Hamas terror, kidnapping of youngsters and missile barrages.
Over a thousand Israelis murdered on buses, in restaurants, hotels and streets during the Oslo years - killed by the PLO and Hamas interchangeably - have not yet convinced the Israeli governments from the left to the right of the political map to do the simple, logical and necessary act of declaring these agreements, as well as anything built upon them, null and void. There were those who invented the horrendous expression, "Victims of Peace". Since when does peace have victims? It would have been better to call them "victims of the illusion of peace sold to us by the 'New Middle East' dream merchants".
We didn't even have the courage to get rid of the Jihadist media snake, Al Jazeera, the Hamas' protege. Since 1996, not a day passed without that station inciting against Israel, Jews and Zionism, as the representatives of the Muslim Brotherhood, the umbrella organization of Hamas, this under the aegis of "freedom of speech" even when broadcasting lies and falsehoods that had absolutely no connection with reality.
Our democratic knights-in-armor are filled with fear and trembling of the petro-dollar-rich and sinister Wahabee Emirates that spread death and destruction throughout the MIddle East, all the while spending billions to try to wrest Jerusalem away from the Jewish people.
And I wonder: how can it be that people who look so responsible and serious, who sound so wise and judicious, abandoned Israel's security to our enemies? Is there a historical precedent for a nation's handing over its land to its enemies? How is it possible that within the eternal capital of the Jewish people "security organizations" of Israel's enemies work openly for its destruction?
It was unbearable to see the greatest "Architect of Oslo" [referring to Israel's current president, Shimon Peres, ed.] stand at the funeral of Naftali, Gil-ad and Eyal, eulogize them and not say the simple and most necessary sentence of all: "We, however, are guilty [the words of Joseph's brothers in the Bible, ed], we who opened the gates to our land to the terrorists, allowing them to build an entity based on hatred, incitement and lies, death and suffering. We who allowed the snake into our house, put our security in his hands and allowed him to kill three of our finest boys in cold blood".
There is no higher level of nobility than that of the families of the boys and those present at the funeral, who heard this 'architect' speak and remained quiet, despite the fact that this speaker did not admit his failure, did not apologize. History, however, will not be as kind to him.
At the open grave of Naftali, Gil-ad and Eyal all controversies between architects and accusers, between the trustworthy and the opportunists, between those responsible and the victims faded. All of the Jewish people faces challenges that will not differentiate between citizens of Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, between the righteous and the wicked, the laggards and the studious, the soldier and the citizen. Realizing the mistakes of the past, we must look ahead at the changing reality in our neighborhood and respond strongly and without pity to each threat, those from within and without. In the Middle East, peace comes only to those who are not defeated.
The Jewish People have overcome troubles such as those we have just faced. We send our condolences to the dear Shaar, Frenkel and Yifrah families, knowing that our way is just and just how deserving of our respect and admiration they are. May you be comforted from the Heavens among the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem and know no more sorrow. Amen.
Written for Arutz Sheva, translated by Rochel Sylvetsky