Remembering Lior Tubal and Ronen Karmani

How is it that 23 years later Israel has no sense of national honor?

Terror victims Tubal (R) and Karmani  (L) (photo credit: GOI File Photo)
Terror victims Tubal (R) and Karmani (L)
(photo credit: GOI File Photo)
My husband Jonathan and I originally met in Israel as teenagers in the 1970s.
He was from Galveston. I was from Montreal. When the summer was over, he went back to America and I to Canada. Fast forward to 1990.
What brought Jonathan and me back together again, nearly two decades later, was a terrible tragedy – the murder of two young Israelis, Lior Tubal and Ronen Karmani, which occurred that summer.
On vacation from my job as a teacher in Canada, I spent that summer volunteering as an intern at Israel’s Justice Ministry in Jerusalem. At the ministry, the work required us to attend briefings.
I remember well the files we were shown at these briefings, which included police photographs of the victims of Arab terror.
I vividly recall photographs of mutilated, mangled, burned, hacked-up corpses, often with limbs missing. There were photographs of atrocities too horrible to describe.
Suffice to say that because of my work at the ministry, I was very familiar with the horror of Arab terrorism. But no matter how much I learned, nothing ever dulls the shock and horror each time a new terror attack occurs.
And so on the morning of August 22, 1990, when the news broke that the bodies of two teenage boys, brutally murdered by Arab terrorists, had been found, it was devastating.
The boys, Ronen Karmani and his friend Lior Tubal, were on their way to visit their girlfriends in Givat Ze’ev when they were offered a ride. They never reached their destination. When they did not show up, their families became increasingly alarmed and police began a search of the area where the boys were last seen. Days later, their broken bodies were found in a valley in Jerusalem. They had been bound, gagged and stabbed multiple times.
I was overwhelmed by grief and sorrow. How could this have happened? Why did these two beautiful young men have to die such a brutal death? I could not calm myself and could not console myself. I knew I had to do something, but what could I do to help? All day long, my mind was in turmoil. Then it came to me.
I remembered reading about an organization that helped the victims of Arab terror. That afternoon, I made contact. The director suggested that we meet the next day. As a result of our meeting, I took on some additional volunteer work for the cause. As we were saying good-bye, the director handed me an old newspaper and asked me, “Have you read last week’s paper yet? Here. Take it.” I took the paper, just to be polite, and tucked it into my backpack.
A few days later, on a bus from Jerusalem to Haifa, and looking for something to read, I pulled out the old newspaper and began to leaf through it.
On the letters page was a notice: “Please write to Jonathan Pollard. He derives great comfort from this.” His address at USP Marion was provided. I did not remember Jonathan and had no clue as to why he was in prison. But I clipped the notice and decided to write a letter of encouragement to a Jew in distress. I tucked it into my address book.
Before returning to Canada, I dashed off a letter to Jonathan, still not remembering who he was, and mailed it. I wrote a message of hope and good wishes for the upcoming Jewish New Year.
When Jonathan received my letter, at first he too did not remember me or the summer we had spent together in Israel as teens, but he had a sense of deep soul recognition.
He had only two stamps left for the month and five letters that needed responses. Jonathan put the others aside and mailed me two envelopes, one containing a personal letter and the other information on the case.
I was back at my teaching job in Canada when Jonathan’s letters arrived and rocked me back. This time it was my turn to experience total soul identification! The rest is history. We reunited, married and have been together ever since.
What jolted my memory and brought this story back to mind are the recent headlines about Lior Tubal and Ronen Karmani.
The boys are back in the news again now, all these years later.
According to reports, the Netanyahu government has decided to free the murderers of Tubal and Karmani, who are serving four life sentences.
More than two decades after their brutal murder, the boys are now mocked in their graves by a government which pledged to honor their deaths. Their lives, abruptly cut off, are now treated with contempt and their memory dishonored as their murderers are about to jubilantly walk free.
Adding to the disgrace, their families are being forced to relive the horror and the pain all over again, knowing that their sons’ murderers are going free.
In a recent video, Ronen Karmani’s parents expressed their heartbreak and dismay.
“The same men who killed Ronen and Lior in cold blood, murdered two other men as well,” Ronen’s father, Eliyahu, notes, “and they were supposed to serve four life terms. Nowhere else on earth do you see this, that a person who got four life sentences plus 20 years is released before completing a single life sentence. Why? Based on what?”
“They murdered two helpless children, who fought, who tried to fight them off,” Ronen’s mother, Mazal added. “They bound them, tied their hands and feet and gagged them, and dragged them to the valley, and stabbed them 15, 20 times. They beat them. We found them... we found their bodies bloated in the sun.”
How is it that 23 years after the murder of Lior Tubal and Ronen Karmani – and after the senseless and brutal murders of countless other victims of Arab terror – Israel has failed to learn the simplest, most elemental lessons of self-respect and national honor.
How is it that the State of Israel is the only country in the world that repeatedly, routinely dishonors its own citizens as it releases their murderers, unrepentant terrorists, en masse?
How is it that Jewish blood has become so cheap?
The author is the wife of Jonathan Pollard, who is serving his 28th year of an unprecedented life sentence in America for his activities on behalf of Israel.