Sunday, October 5, 2003

Free Federman

Erev Yom Kippur
October 5, 2003

Yesterday, at about 2:15 in the afternoon, a twenty-nine year old female lawyer walked into the Maxim restaurant in Haifa with about ten kilo of explosives strapped onto her body. When she detonated herself, nineteen people were killed and over 60 injured. Among those murdered were five members of the Zar-aviv family from Kibbutz Yagur – Grandmother Bruria, aged 59, her son and his wife, Bezalel and Keren, and their two children, four year old son Liron and his fourteen month old sister Maya.

Also wiped out were four members of the Almog family, from Tel Aviv: Father Ze’ev, a senior ranking officer in the IDF, his wife Ruti, their son Moshe, and grandson Tomer.

Together with six others, they were annihilated because they were Jews, eating lunch on a Saturday afternoon in a jointly owned Jewish-Arab restaurant, two days before Yom Kippur. Amongst the dead were also four Arabs.

This morning, trying to eat breakfast while listening to the news, difficult to do, feeling hungry and nauseas at the same time, former labor defense minister, Binyamin Fuad ben Eliezer was interviewed. Hearing him, I felt even worse. His initial statement was correct, that being that Israel must change its approach to the problem. He continued by saying that we would never reach a situation whereby all Arab [terrorist] organizations (Tanzim, Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and the PA) would agree to a full ceasefire. I can also agree with that. But, then our paths differ. Fuad’s conclusion is that we have no choice but to enter into immediate negotiations, despite the continued pogroms against our citizens. And of course, we must finish the ‘magic fence’, as fast as possible.

Fuad is right, we must change our approach, fast. However, his conclusions are far off the mark. Following Fuad, Kol Yisrael spoke with Minister Benny Elon. He hit the nail on the head. Israel must destroy the palestinian authority. Fences and are useless, terrorists will always find ways around them. Expulsion of Arafat will almost undoubtedly not help and most probably cause Israel harm. The only way to deal with terror is to uproot it at its source, and that source is, today, the PA. This band of thugs and murderers has received world-wide recognition as the legitimate leadership of a future ‘palestinian state’ (G-d forbid). They have achieved this by spilling gallons of Jewish blood – over 1,100 Jews have been murdered since Oslo was signed, and some 880 in the past 3 years. The PA, along with its top leadership, must be erased from the map.

This is one side of the coin. Yet, there is another side too.

Several weeks ago long-time Hebron resident and activist Noam Federman was again apprehended. He was not walking down the street, he was not in the middle of trying to kill Arabs, he was not even at home. Rather, he was arrested while presenting an appeal to the Israeli Supreme Court.

Federman was arrested over a year ago, based on the testimony of one person, tying him to the “Bat-Ayin” group, accused and convicted of attempting to blow up Arabs in East Jerusalem. There is no evidence that Federman had anything to do with those three men, excepting the account of one of them, (who also named tens of others, none of whom were arrested.) For over a year Federman has been detained, held in house arrest. (See below-“The Israeli Twilight Zone”-July 22, 2002). Since then Noam Federman has been fighting an uphill battle to be released.  (Recently the date of his trial was set for sometime NEXT JUNE!!!)

Federman, a brilliant legal expert with a law degree, came very close to convincing the court that the house arrest detention order, initiated by the Shabak, the Israeli intelligence organization, was illegal, circumventing the judicial system. So, rather than take any chances, the Shabak issued a six month administrative detention order, signed by Defense Minister Shaul Mufaz, arrested him in the middle of his court case, and threw him behind bars in the worst possible conditions. A Supreme Court justice reviewed the detention order and upheld it. However, the details of the ‘evidence’ given to him by the Shabak was “secret” thereby preventing Federman or his lawyer from being able to present any kind of defense.

Federman is being held in total isolation is a high-security prison, in a very small cell, and is not receiving certified kosher food. In other words, he is being treated as if he were a mass murderer. This, without having been indicted, stood trial, convicted and sentenced. (It should also be noted that the Shabak is answerable only to the Prime Minister.)

Not only right-wing Jews are appalled by the Federman case. Writing in an Israeli daily on September 30, left wing Meretz MK Zahava Galon stated: “Noam Federman should be put on trial or released. Circumventing the law rather than upholding it points to hysteria and bewilderment and does not achieve its purpose.”

It is totally incomprehensible how Israel can, on the one hand, sit and talk to murderers like Muhammad Dahlan, Abu-This and Abu-That, actually allowing them into Jerusalem, while on the other hand abusing innocent civilians (based on the theory that people are innocent until PROVEN guilty), denying them basic human rights and acceptable judicial recourse. 

It makes no difference whether one agrees or disagrees with Noam Federman’s politics. He deserves the identical civil rights of any other Israeli. And those civil rights are being grossly denied him, causing him and his family indescribable suffering. Noam Federman is not a murderous Arab terrorist  - he is an Israeli Jew!

Tonight begins the holiest day of the Jewish calendar, Yom Kippur. The essence of Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, is, in Hebrew, Tshuva, which literally means repentance. But the root of Tshuva is l’shuv – meaning, to return. On Yom Kippur we attempt to return to our real selves, ourselves without transgression, have asked for and having been granted forgiveness by the L-rd. This allows us to begin the New Year afresh, instilled with purity and a new outlook on life.

What better a way could the Israeli government express its sorrow at its own sins committed over the past year by: 1) waging comprehensive war on the Arabs who are killing innocent men, women and children, trying to wipe us out and expel us from our land – a war leading to the full and total destruction of the PA; and 2) by letting Noam Federman go home.


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