As I wrote nearly a year ago, while Israelis won’t touch the word “political” with a ten-foot pole, curiously they have no problem politicizing issues that should remain outside the political arena. Or perhaps I should say “co-opting” or “exploiting for cynical purposes”. I’m referring to the myriad non-profits (seven are listed here not including One Family; another five here) whose stated purpose is serving the surviving family members of Israelis who have been killed in terror attacks. I have two problems — or shall I say discomforts — with these organizations:
The first is that I notice that the vast majority of the children they serve (you see them on organized outings and weekends) appear to be Orthodox, which prompts me to ask: What? Non-Orthodox aren’t killed in terror attacks? Or is there something else going on?
The second is that, while my experience with loss and bereavement is fortunately and admittedly scant, I don’t understand why children who lose parents in a terror attack are in a category separate from those who, say, lose parents in a traffic collision, God forbid, or to the Versailles [wedding hall] collapse. Do the former’s needs differ from the latter’s? Or is it possible that the former is “sexier” in terms of keeping the fans of bigotry flamed and / or eliciting sympathy for what is termed the “pro-Israel cause”?
Out of curiosity, I wrote to two such organizations: One Family, and another whose name I can’t recall, as they never replied. I wrote: Do your services extend to Arab victims of terror, such as the victims of Eden Natan Zada in 2005? Or the families of those gunned down in the Cave of the Patriarchs mosque in 1994?
Yehuda Poch of One Family was kind enough to reply courteously: “Shalom Yam:
Our services extend to all victims of anti-Israel terror since September 2000.
That includes Druze, Beduin, Israeli Arabs, and foreign residents/citizens.
Eden Natan-Zada's attack, while horrible, was not an attack against Israel.”
To which I replied: "Interesting. So if one of Zada's victims happened to have been Jewish? And who determines who's Jewish? My friend is the child of an Arab father and Jewish mother. She could easily have been riding a bus in Shfar'am. How do you determine an individual's eligibility for your services?"
Poch’s reply: “Hi, Miriam: Eligibility for our services has nothing to do with the ethnicity of the victim – or of the attacker. It has to do with the nature of the attack. If the attack is an anti-Israel terror attack, then the victims are eligible for assistance.
For instance, an Arab bus driver driving a bus that was bombed would be classified as a victim of an anti-Israel terror attack, and would be eligible for our assistance (as in fact has happened in more than one instance).
If one of Zada's victims happened to have been Jewish, such as your friend's child, s/he would have been eligible for the same government assistance provided to all the Arab victims, if there was any. But they would not have been classified as victims of anti-Israel terror, either by the government or by us.”
Me: “How is ‘a terror act against Israel’ determined? If an Arab enters a mall and starts randomly shooting people, is it assumed to have a nationalistic motive? Who / which agency(s) determine whether a random act of violence is terror?”
Poch: “That decision is left up to the police and/or military authorities. In general, while a case such as you describe would almost automatically be ruled a terror attack, there are cases that are far less cut-and-dried.
For instance, a few years ago an eight-year-old was raped and murdered in Beit Shemesh, by an Arab. That case was never ruled a terror attack. There have been others.
There was even a case about four years ago of a Kassam attack in Sderot wherein a boy was killed in the explosion, and he was never ruled a victim of terror because he was ill and the authorities ruled that he died of a reaction of his illness.
There are cases that are contested, and cases that are not. We, as an organization, are limited to helping only those recognized as terror victims by the State authorities.”
Fair enough, and while Poch deserves credit for taking my queries seriously and responding to them thoughtfully, the two discomforts I have with these organizations remain*. If anyone has any insight thereto, I’d be pleased to hear it.
* No critique of Poch here; I did not address my discomforts with him.