Oct. 18 2000:

The Bereaved Families Forum -- A Special Dialog Group

by Yitzhak Frankenthal

The Bereaved Families’ Forum ("Bereaved Parents Circle) was founded by Israeli businessman Yitzhak Frankenthal [frankent@ netvision.net.il; fax: 972-8-9285060] whose son was killed by Palestinians while serving in the Israeli army.

Members are Palestinians and Israelis who have lost loved ones in he conflict. They have held numerous dialogs and taken joint action for peace and continue to do so, even in the midst of the turmoil now gripping Israel and Palestine.

Recently, Bereaved Families’ Forum member Roni and Mira Hirshenson lost a second son to the conflict, after losing one son in the Beit Lid bombing of 1995. Their son El’ad committed suicide after his best friend was killed while serving in the IDF at the infamous Netzarim junction outpost which protects the Netzarim settlement in Gaza.

Yitzhak Frankenthal wrote about this sad event to settlers at Netzarim, asking them if land is more precious than human life.

The Bereaved Families’ Forum and Yitzhak Frankenthal have developed an analysis of the current situation, solutions, means of implementation, a timetable for action and need for financial assistance.


Those interested in additional information about contributing to the BFF should contact P.E.F. Israel Endowment Funds, Inc., 317 Madison Avenue, Suite 607, New York, NY 10017.

Following is Y. Frankenthal’s letter to the residents of the Netzarim settlement:



Letter to Netzarim Settlers
B.H. Sukkot, Wednesday, 18th October 2000

To the Netzarim Residents,

Today at approximately 8 am I received a call from my beloved friend and colleague Roni Hirshenson informing me that his son El'ad committed suicide. El'ad left a letter in which he wrote that he cannot continue living after the death of his best friend David who fell in Netzarim a day before Rosh Hashanna. Roni and Miri, El'ad's parents, buried a son Amir, killed in the Beit-Lid bombing, in January l995 and now they bury their second son El'ad.

I am writing this letter from the bottom of my heart, shaking with fury, and my soul is trembling from the sound of the sand sacks being emptied over the coffin. Look what has happened to our people and country owing to the absence of peace. The absence of peace has killed Amir in an act of terror, my own son Arik was killed by the Hamas in July 1994 and many others have fallen due to the absence of peace. In the past month over 100 people were killed due to the absence of peace. El'ad's best friend has also fallen in Netzarim due to the absence of peace. And now, El'ad has taken his own life only because his best friend David fell in Netzarim.

Any sane individual knows that Netzarim will be evacuated when peace will be reached between ourselves and the Palestinians, just as Yamit was evacuated, just as the Sinai was evacuated.

Why in God's mercy do you continue to inhabit this cursed place that has demanded so many lives?

Where is your mercy on the children who are in peril?

Where is your mercy for a mother who buried two of her children?

Is God's spirit within you?

Is your God the belief in a messianic settlement that has nothing to do with the security of Israel? It is virtually paganism that children are being sacrificed to false gods, and please do not tell me that all your compassion is directed to me and therefore you have no compassion for the children of Israel.

I do not need your compassion, I need your understanding, the understanding that your conduct led to countless tragedies to the People of Israel. You really believe that you are protecting the security of Tel-Aviv, but this is just a myth. The citizens of Tel-Aviv do not need your protection, what they need is protection from you.

Do you really think that security will prevail in Israel without peace, that there can be peace without very painful compromises? In any case, the state of affairs as it stands today where settlements in the Gaza Strip is not acceptable. Do you find any living your present standard of living level whilst your neighbors exist at the level maintained in the forties? Had we been in the place of the Palestinians would we have not done more and more acts of terror in order to get our own state? Why should the Palestinians be any different?

Again, please don't tell me that I am a defeatist and that I am prepared to surrender mother-earth and that I want peace at any cost and that I do not understand, the course of history. Not at all, I have been "fighting" for peace together with Roni for many years, not just recently, and we have been doing so in order to prevent more and more unnecessary deaths. For us, the Land of Israel is very important and beloved. A land where our children can live, not a land that consumes its children. Is land more important than a human being? What makes you believe that this forsaken damned hole - Netzarim - that has cost so many lives, is worth bringing our children to the slaughter? Can you not understand that your path leads to the slaughter of our children?

Please, Brothers, do not regard us as your enemies, you are our brothers and we understand very well the meaning of peace. We
understand that peace will only prevail if we make painful compromises, but we also know that most of our settler brothers will eventually be annexed to Israel and will become an inseparable part of the State of Israel. Even if we have to compromise on Jerusalem in order to make peace, even if in the Old City only the Wailing Wall and the Jewish Quarter will remain under Israeli
sovereignty, and the rest will come under Palestinian sovereignty, the price of peace is worth paying because the People of Israel have never worshipped sovereignty but God.

Please my Brothers, do not think that we fail to understand the meaning of the term "To serve the Lord". For a father that says Kadish for his son, that says Yitgadal Veitkadash Shemaya Raba near his grave like Roni and I did, there is no doubt that we serve the Lord as otherwise we would not have blessed the Lord for the death of our children.

I rest the full responsibility for this terrible bloodshed, where our children are killed in Netzarim solely at your door, residents of Netzarim. I am sure that the Lord will know how to repay you properly.

Finally I want to quote Miri, El'ad's mother who cried at her son's grave "Whoever heard of a mother that buries her son, and whoever saw and heard of a mother that buries two sons?". "Instead of leading my sons to the Chuppah I am burying them". "Whom shall I cry for first, Amir or El'ad? I have brought children into the world to give them life."

"I sent them to the army alive and they returned dead. Whoever heard of a country that gives up its children to indulge the land? Don't pour soil over El'ad, don't soil his hair, only a week ago I bought him a new pair of shoes, and he had not yet worn them. I am a mother that cares for her children, how can I leave El'ad here? How can I eat whilst he is in his grave?"

"I had five children, and I am left with three. Ever since David died in Netzarim 20 days ago you wrote him a daily letter. How can I be at home whilst Amir and El'ad are here on Mount Hertzel? Whose grave shall I visit first? Amir's or El'ad's? I have lost the strength to go on living. What for? Whoever dreamt that I will be visited twice?"

"Thank you, Netzarim's settlers, a straight red line is drawn from Netzarim to Mount Hertzel. I have brought up my children to contribute to the country, and what did I get in return? Two coffins, two graves, and they were only 19, didn't even reach the age of 20. I will not be ironing any more shirts for them, won't make their beds, two empty rooms at home."

Before we left the cemetery my beloved Roni turned to me and asked to send you a letter. I hope I have succeeded, even partially, to convey to you the painful feelings we foster on the loss of our sons.

I beg you, please, take your belongings and come back to Israel.

Come back and help build a democratic society that will address the terrible social hardships we face. You have an enormous potential to become leaders of brotherhood and friendship in the country, but today you act as Angels of Death to our children. Today you are the messengers of the devil who says "better land than man".

Please, wake up, before God forbid we will bury more children.

With heartache and terrible disappointment at you.

Yitzhak Frankenthal - Gimzo



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