More than just names

The Three Fathers' struggle for recognition of terror victims goes far beyond their own children, as evidenced not only by their constant activity on this issue but by a special effort the three have made: keeping alive the memory of victims of terror by cataloguing every memorial to such individuals throughout the country. Eretz Zocheret Yoshveha (A People Remembers: Documenting Terror Victims' Commemoration Sites, is the Web site set up by Yossi Zur, Yossi Mendellevich and Ron Kehrmann to - as the Web site's name indicates - remember those killed in terror attacks. Memorials to these fallen are scattered throughout the country, and the collection dates back as early as 1913, to one in the fields near Kibbutz Kinneret put up to mark the murder of Yosef Zaltzman on November 24 of that year while he was plowing a field nearby. They take the form of anything from simple plaques to the moving single die on a pillar in Karmiel commemorating Zvika Golomback, 26, killed in the Sbarro pizzeria attack in Jerusalem in August 2001. It was designed to show "the luck or lack of it in our lives," with the numbers two and six on the die displayed to show his age when he died. Topping the memorial, set up near his parents' home, is a dove to symbolize "peace, which Zvika believed in with all his heart." There are 480 such memorials listed on the site, with each entry including photographs, an explanation of the incident, a description of the memorial and other information, all of it collected, catalogued and organized by the three men. The site is searchable in both English and Hebrew. Zur did most of the leg work, an incredible mixture of detective skills, dedication and creativity that has led to a Web site which has also yielded an exhibit on these moving memorials, currently on view at the OneFamily Fund center in Jerusalem. Zur began researching the subject in 2004, about a year after his son Asaf was killed. "I talked to people and went to libraries, newspaper archives. When I had a list of 100 plus sites, I started traveling to them to photograph the site. "If today the memorials are on the main roads and streets, if you go back to the '50s and '60s, they are in the fields, whether you talk about the Hula Valley where people were attacked by the Syrians, or the area near Gaza, where people were attacked by fedayeen in the '50s. I would look for the memorials, ask people, look for them in the fields, sometimes for four or five hours," says Zur of his and his colleagues' labor of love. The most difficult one to find, he recalls, was near Kibbutz Gadot in the Hula, hidden near the end of a kayak route down the Jordan River. "After walking up a hill for half an hour, I found a small memorial stone. But that's part of the thing I think is worth doing." Without their efforts, it's unlikely the memorials would be documented at all, says Zur. "The State of Israel doesn't care about documenting these memorials for civilian victims of terror for the future, for people to know, not the Education Ministry, not the Welfare and Social Services Ministry, not the Defense Ministry... so when I had to take on this project, no one was prepared to help," he says. Investing a great deal of money, time and effort, Zur believes the project keeps the memory of the fallen alive better than any commemorative book, since "on the Internet, it's alive," able to be updated and "people hear about it and tell me about others." The site, which features Winston Churchill's quote "A nation that forgets its past has no future," also allows visitors to lay a virtual flower at each memorial, creating the kind of personal contact with the fallen that will keep their memories alive - exactly the kind of recognition the Three Fathers want to ensure for all those who fell in terror attacks throughout the country.