Rabbi Leo Dee, who lost his wife Lucy, and daughters Maia and Rina, in a murderous terrorist attack in the Jordan Valley seven months ago, spoke to Arutz Sheva–Israel National News, following the demolition last night by the IDF of the home of one of the terrorists who killed his wife and daughters.
“I feel it's very symbolic, at this time when we are destroying evil in Gaza, that an attack was made on this house, and I think destroying the evil location of these people. People often question the issue of demolishing homes. It is something that is controversial, because they talk about the family, the surroundings, why should they suffer? But when the tragedy happened, I had two questions which I stated that I'd like to ask the family. These were: Why did they do it and what was their vision for a better future? And a number of journalists went on my behalf to the house of the mother and the wife and actually asked these questions. And the mother says 'we want to kill every Jew with our fingernails' and the wife said that she has a vision for her son becoming a martyr like his father. And for that reason, I don't have sympathy for the family of the terrorists.”
In response to a comparison between the personal tragedies that people experience when suffering an individual tragedy and the situation today, when hundreds of people and entire families have been injured and murdered, Rabbi Dee says that he has “had the honor of meeting some of the [Kibbutz] Be’eri families. I went to a couple of shivas recently and I'm just blown away by how strong they are and how strong that community is and how they're holding together supporting one another. It is absolutely incredible, and they are really amazing people.”
Rabbi Dee continues, “I met an amazing gentleman called Avi Darbecha. He lost a leg. He lost his wife. He lost his son in a safe room. In Be’eri, they were under attack for 12 solid hours, undefended by these Hamas terrorists who were trying to kill them for 12 hours solidly, sending grenades into their safe room. And I said to him, you know, one of the things that helped us was that at the end of the Shloshim [month mourning period], I said to my kids ‘we're now entering episode two of our lives. In episode one, we had two parents and five kids. We're now in episode two, with one parent and three kids. And it's not the same, but it's going to be happy and we're going to move forwards and we'll have all the memories of episode one, But it's very different. It's a new world.”
Rabbi Dee believes that the only way he could cope with the situation was to have some hope, “I believe that this whole situation is really is about freeing Palestine from Hamas. I think that the Palestinians I know, I don't know how many there are of them, I'm assuming they are the majority and they would like to live in freedom and prosperity, and they cannot speak up against these evil regimes. They don't want to be under the Palestinian Authority. They don't want to be under Fatah. They don't want to be under Islamic Jihad. They don't want to be under Hamas. And they can't say that. And in fact, they'll probably be seen cheering, you know, the acts of Hamas. But secretly they would be the first ones to see their demise, to cheer on in the long run. In the long run, it will also be for their benefit if Israel takes control."
On the events of Saturday Simchat Torah, October 7th, Rabbi Dee remembers that they had just finished Parashat Beresheet [the first Torah portion] on Simchat Torah when the first siren went off.
"And then of course news started coming in throughout the day as people were called up to the front. At the time I thought it was very apt that this was happening on Simchat Torah, at the beginning of Parashat Beresheet, when we talk about a new world, because just as I said, this is episode two of my life, this was episode two of Medinat Yisrael. Episode one finished just before Simchat Torah. Episode two started on Simchat Torah and it's a new world, completely new world. ‘Vayehi Or’ - there was light; there was a new light. On Sunday morning everybody in the world woke up to see that there was a new truth, there is good and there is evil in the world. And the evil did us a favor by marching down the street and continuing to march down the streets of London, Paris, New York and Miami.”
Rabbi Dee believes that despite the fact that the international support that was felt that Sunday morning seems to have shifted, "the average person in the Western world can see the difference between good and evil".
"They might be too scared to confront it", he says, "just like our Palestinian friends in Gaza or in Judea and Samaria and they'd be happy to just pretend it's not there. But actually, it's very much there and it's very much in front of them. And, God forbid it could escalate in the West, terrorism could grow substantially in the next few weeks and then I think the amount of support for Israel will grow exponentially.”
Regarding the Arab society and the belief that there was a hope that because Gaza was able to bring in the resources they needed, that they went to work in Israel, it would give them a logical reason not to attack, Rabbi Dee believes that “we made a huge mistake and this is something which I realized only in the last six months, and that is that we were allowing them to build tunnels. We knew about the tunnels. We were allowing them to train their kids from the age of 10, sometimes even from 5, to become terrorists. We know exactly the sort of brainwashing they had to kill Jews wherever they find them. And we know they were paying pay-for-slay $350 million a year to terrorists. So, the terrorists that killed my wife and my kids, their families, including this woman who wants to kill every Jew and the wife who wants her son to become a terrorist, will receive $1,000,000 over their lifetime from pay-for-slay, funded by the European Union via UNWRA and so forth. So, we were aware of this, and this has been happening for 20-30 years. We allowed them to train their kids to hate us and to kill us.”
Only two weeks before the Simchat Torah attack Israel was experiencing controversy, protest, maybe even violence in Tel Aviv about religious versus non-religious. Rabbi Dee believes that “despite the belief of controversy at that time, there actually was unity then, it just wasn't visible unity. It was visibly not unified, but actually the unity was there. And as you know that on the day after this tragedy, they called up the miluim, the reservists for the Air Force, and they expected 60% to turn up because 40% had previously been threatening not to turn up. In fact, 120% turned up because 20% of people said 'we're coming anyway even though you didn't ask us.' So, we went from 60% unity to 120% unity in an instant. And I think that's just demonstrative of the fact that we always have unity. It just wasn't visible. Therefore, I think that before we look at each other as enemies, we should look at what the real enemy is, and we just ignored that and then somehow it got overlooked.”
Rabbi Dee is “totally optimistic about the Jewish people. We are more unified than ever, and I hope that we can maintain this when the threat is no longer there. And as far as the Gazan situation is concerned, the moment we wipe out Hamas, which please God, will be very soon, we will be much safer, the Palestinian people will be much safer, and we can live in peace and prosperity together.”
Regarding the call of the families of the hostages to release all the prisoners of the terrorists in order that they release all our hostages, “I think that any person who was in their situation would be saying exactly the same thing. But the call of the families, is one call. There's another call from the army and the military, which is another call. And I'm glad I'm not in a position that I would have to make a decision. I don't really have an opinion, but it's probably the most difficult decision. Of course, the terrorists are playing on the fact that we are a democratic society, but not only that, the Jews are the most caring people, the most loving people, the most unified people, as we can see, so they're playing completely on our weakness here. And you know, we're in a complete quandary. I think that most other free democratic countries would not have any problem, you know, acting very, very directly and fighting and losing the hostages. But as Jews with tremendously huge hearts, we're all suffering here. And that's the reason that they took the hostages.”