One of my daughters spent last year in the Shomron community of Eli, doing her first year of voluntary service. Religious girls, rather than serve in the army, volunteer for a year or two. She celebrated this past Shabbat at the community, as they marked the 18th anniversary of the founding of Eli.
On Saturday night, as she climbed onto the bus to Jerusalem, our daughter heard someone calling to a little boy, ?when you get home, call us, let us know you arrived.? Seeing the little boy sitting alone, she sat down next to him and they began talking. He said his name was Beniya and that he is soon to start second grade. My daughter asked him if he was traveling alone and he answered that two of his brothers, aged 14 and 4 were also on the bus. She asked again, ?What, you?re traveling without your parents?? He put his head down and answered almost in a whisper, ?My parents are dead.? With a sinking feeling in her stomach, she asked him his family name and he responded Dickstein. Rabbi Yossi and Hanna Dickstein, together with their son Shuvel, were killed one month ago, on a Friday afternoon, by the same terrorists who murdered Elazar Leibovitch from Hebron.
My daughter asked Beniya with whom they had stayed with for Shabbat. He told her that his aunt and uncle live in Eli and that they may move to his house in Psagot to be his new mother and father. When? He answered, ?When my oldest brother, Tzvi Yehuda, aged 20, decides that we need parents.? Then, discussing the upcoming school year, Beniya said that his sister promised him that on the first day of school he would be able to wear the new clothing his mother had purchased for his murdered brother. ?Shuvel had a lot of clothing and now it is all mine,? he added.
Last week we had a community discussion here in Hebron about the current situation, following the funeral of the murdered Elazar Lebovitch. Sitting in the room, looking around, I realized that I was in the presence of four families who had lost loved ones to Arab terrorists: Rebbetzin Chaya Ra?anan, whose husband, Rav Shlomo Ra?anan, a 63 year old Rabbi and grandson of Rav Kook, was murdered in his Tel Rumeida home four years ago; Yitzik Pass, whose 10-month-old daughter Shalhevet was killed a year and a half ago; Anat Cohen, whose brother Gilad was killed in the Shomron over a year ago; and now the Lebovitch family. Four families, in one room, all victims of Oslo.
As you probably know, the army pulled out of Bethlehem and relinquished control over parts of Gaza to the Palestinian Authority terrorists as part of an agreement called ?Bethlehem and Gaza First?, with the goal of again removing Israeli forces from all of the cities in PA-occupied Yehuda and Shomron, leaving them in the hands of the terrorists. The next city on the list of cities to be abandoned was, of course, Hebron. What you may not know is that the Defense Minister, Binyamin (?Fuad?) Ben-Eliezer, notified the army of the retreat from Bethlehem an hour beforehand, against IDF recommendations. He, too, favored a swift abandonment of Hebron. However, senior IDF officers, vehemently opposing the pullout from Hebron, made their opinions known to the media and Fuad was forced to, in his words, postpone the IDF pullout. However, he has made it clear that the Bethlehem-Gaza agreement has not been suspended and will remain in effect.
This, despite the fact that the senior PA minister and Arafat advisor Nabil Sha?ath was quoted in a Jordanian magazine as favoring continued suicide attacks. This, despite the fact that Arafat advisor, terrorist Muhammad Dahlan last week said that the Bethlehem-Gaza agreement was dead. This despite the fact that, on Friday, PA-appointed muftis in Jerusalem again incited, claiming that the entire Temple Mount belongs to the Palestinians alone. This, despite the fact that the PA continues to shell communities in Gush Katif with anti-tank missiles and mortars. This, despite that fact that Fatah central council member Hani al-Hassan states that the agreement does not obligate the PA to collect illegal weapons or arrest gunmen. This, despite the fact that the Israeli Chief of Staff Moshe Ya?alon declared that the ?Palestinian threat is cancerous.?
Why is our Defense Minister so stubbornly supporting his own policy of stupidity? Simply, because he wants to defeat the newly-declared candidate for Labor party chairman in the next election, the ultra-leftist mayor of Haifa, Amram Mitzna. Fuad has to prove that he too can be a leftist, in spite of his naturally (relatively) right-wing tendencies. More importantly, why is Ariel Sharon allowing Fuad to play this game? Again, simply because Sharon prefers Ben-Eliezer to Mitzna.
The final result of this convoluted equation is more spilled Jewish blood, more loss of Jewish life, more orphans, more widows, more tears. And more little boys, like Beniya Dickstein, who have to search for a new set of parents, G-d forbid.