“There is a lot of pain in this room, but there is also a lot of power,” said Chantal Belzberg, director of the NGO OneFamily, to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during a private meeting at the Knesset, amid several victims of terrorism.
“They represent a cross-section of Israeli society...however, this group has one thing in common - one thing that bonds them together, now and forever,” she said.
That commonality, Belzberg told Netanyahu, is that each of them has a loved one who was brutally murdered by Arab terrorists, and not enough has been done to stop the ongoing wave of violence.
OneFamily, an apolitical NGO that utilizes a group dynamic to champion the legal rights in addition to emotional and financial needs of thousands of terrorism victims and their families, has served as a preeminent voice for survivors since 2001.
On Thursday morning, Belzberg and the survivors were joined by her husband, Marc Belzberg, OneFamily’s chairman, who together hand delivered Netanyahu a confidential six-point plan to better fight Israel’s war against terrorism.
The top-secret document was drafted by US legal luminaries Alan Dershowitz and Avi Bell.
While the Belzbergs said they could not discuss its contents, Chantal described it as containing “six legally defensible, actionable ways to save Jewish lives from terrorism,” adding that its “time has come.”
“The message is that there are tools available to the government today that they can use to create more deterrence that would ultimately prevent terrorism,” Marc said at a press conference at the Ramada Renaissance Hotel in Jerusalem, shortly after meeting with the prime minister.
Remarking that Israel’s government is “the best there is” in the war against terrorists, he nonetheless lamented that much more needs to be done.
“The purpose of the meeting was ultimately to deliver to the prime minister a number of new ideas, that perhaps he hasn’t thought about,” he said.
Foremost, Belzberg mentioned the need to monitor the curriculum and textbooks inciting violence against Jews at Palestinian schools throughout the country.
“In many Israeli-Arab schools they’re teaching poison to the kids – the textbooks carry that material in it, it’s not just the teachers – and that needs to be stopped immediately,” he said. “We pay for those books, we pay for those schools, and someone should go in there and stop it immediately.
Personally, I believe there should be cameras in every Arab classroom so we can monitor exactly what they are teaching in those schools, and make sure the people who are teaching hate and killing will be dismissed immediately.”
With respect to the controversial government policy of delaying the return of the corpses of Palestinian terrorists to prevent more violence, Belzberg argued that the bodies should not be returned at all.
“The answer should be that we do not return bodies, period,” he said. “That is a little Arab boy who killed somebody and he can’t go to heaven and meet his 72 virgins unless he is buried. So, as long as you keep him out of the ground in the Land of Israel and not buried, he’s not receiving the reward for committing his crime.”
Asked how he would rebut human rights organizations that would assuredly condemn such a measure as inhumane, he emphasized that in war, which he described the current terrorism wave as, “that happens all the time.”
“We’re in a war here today in Israel, and in war there are corpses that are held on both sides, and at some point in the future they trade their corpses for our corpses; it happens in every single war. So it’s not beyond the law and it’s not inhumane, it’s standard procedure.”
Moreover, noting a recent incident in the West Bank when an Arab Red Crescent ambulance drove past murdered Israelis, Belzberg invoked Israel’s law to help a person in need, which is also stated in the Torah, and said such indifference must be legally punishable.
“If a person is dying in front of you, you have a legal obligation to help them, and there are punishments for not doing so,” he said. “They were the first ones on the scene, and they simply drove off. For doing that, the whole license for the Red Crescent in the territories should have been revoked.”
In one particularly egregious recent example, he cited the attack of Adele Banita, stabbed 17 times in the Old City by an Arab terrorist, who killed her husband, Aharon, and wounded their infant child, on the second night of Succot last October.
“She’s running through the area with 17 stab wounds, her husband is dead on the ground, their little child is shot in the leg... and people who saw what was happening, did nothing, walked away,” he said. “The people who witnessed it and did nothing to help her should have been arrested.
“We’re not strict enough, we’re not pushy enough,” he added of enforcing the law against indifference.
Dvora Gonen, whose 25-year-old son Danny was shot nine times by Arab terrorists near Modi’in eight months ago, echoed the Belzberg’s sentiments, adding that the international criticism Israel receives in its war against terrorism is profoundly hypocritical.
“The world likes to criticize Israel, and I don’t know why,” she said. “We want to live here in peace and we are good human beings. The other side doesn’t want us here; this is the problem. They have to know and accept our right to exist in our country.
“We have a right to protect ourselves,” she continued. “If someone comes at me with a knife, what can I do? If you want to kill me, I don’t want you to kill me. I have to protect myself. This is the first rule in the world.”
Meanwhile, opposition leader MK Isaac Herzog issued a statement to the victims OneFamily represents.
“I share in your pain and feel terrible for the families,” he said. “Their pain is the pain that all the people of Israel feel, and we cry with them. I join their demand to stop the terror.”
Herzog added that his controversial separation plan for Arabs and Jews in Jerusalem must be implemented immediately “in order to restore security to the citizens of Israel.”
“It is time for Israel to start to do things, rather than just talk,” he said.