A mother’s reflection on Remembrance Day

Like many other bereaved parents, I desperately want the memory of my angel to live on.

MalkiRoth311 (photo credit: Courtesy of the Roth family)
MalkiRoth311
(photo credit: Courtesy of the Roth family)
A decade after the start of the worst civilian war Israelis have known,the second intifada, the memory of its victims is endangered. With fewsoldiers, celebrities or heroes among them, they were alwaysstep-victims: anonymous men, women and especially children who happenedto be in the wrong place at the wrong time.
My daughter Malki was 14 when the war started in 2000. She kept aprivate journal of her activities, which unknown to me, included herthoughts about the turbulent news.
• “Today the disturbances in the territories continued and the roadsleading to the settlements were closed, including the Givat Ze’ev-Ramotroad. A soldier was killed because he was trapped at Joseph’s Tomb andthey couldn’t manage to rescue him. Just shocking and frightening...”Malki’s journal entry – October 1, 2000.

The details of the ordinary Israelis killed by the terrorists weredoomed to fade away for other reasons too. Their fates highlighted theinitial inability of the government to confront the terroristonslaught. Until Operation Defensive Shield was launched on March 29,2002, Palestinian terror groups were acting with essentially a freehand. The “omnipotent” IDF seemed unable to stop them. In thesecircumstances, it is no surprise that governments have been reluctantto highlight this sorry chapter in our nation’s history.
• “The shooting at Gilo continued and in response the IDF returned fire on Bethlehem...” – October 22, 2000.
• “Shooting at Psagot and Gilo continued...” – October 24, 2000.
• “There was an attack near Kfar Darom. A roadside bomb exploded near aschool bus. Two dead, one of them a brother-in-law of Gilad Ludveiss.Three of the injured are siblings from the Cohen family and all are nowleg amputees...” – November 20, 2000.
• “A car driving on the Beit Horon-Givat Ze’ev road was fired on. Thedriver, 28, was lightly injured. He’s from Ramot [where we live] andworks as a security guard in the the industrial zone...” – December 31,2000.
The second intifada also dealt a serious blow to tourism and to thelocal economy. In 2000, for instance, there were 3 million overnightstays in Jerusalem by foreign tourists. By 2003, that number had fallento 46,000. Minimizing the damage was understandably deemed essential tothe renewed flow of tourist dollars.
The abiding grief and fury of the families of civilian victims has beena thorn in the government’s side whenever its decisions have beenperceived as threatening to reignite terrorism. Family voices have beenheard opposing mass terrorist prisoner releases, the reopening of Route443 to Palestinian traffic and other appeasement measures directed atHamas and Fatah.
THEN THERE is the matter of official foot-dragging in relation to theconstruction of memorials. Jerusalem was by far the city hardest hit byterrorism. Between 2000 and 2003, hundreds of attacks, fully 60 percentof the national total, occurred in the capital. Nearly 200 people weremurdered, more than 1,000 wounded. Yet, as these words are beingwritten, the Jerusalem municipality has still not erected a memorial inthe city center to remind passersby of its civilian victims. Small,inconspicuous plaques bearing the names of victims have been posted atspecific terror-attack sites but even some of those were placed thanksto pressure from the victims' families. Memorials, such as the hallproposed this week by Defense Minister Ehud Barak, are located at themilitary cemetery of Mount Herzl, a site visited exclusively bybereaved families and friends.
• “There was a suicide bombing in Kfar Saba today. Thank God there wereno fatalities but there were many wounded, one very severely...” –April 22, 2001.
By neglecting the memory of the victims of the intifada, by failing topublicize their narratives, Israel has left a vacuum for our enemies tofill. The broadcasting of stories of Palestinian dead, whether true orfabricated, has helped their side to prevail in the media war. Oneexample, the Muhammad al-Dura tale, has inspired many suicide bomberswho detonated their explosives with his name on their lips. Despiteoverwhelming evidence against the authenticity of a video purporting todepict the shooting of the young Dura, it is still widely accepted asfact, not just in the Muslim world, but in the West as well.
MORE RECENTLY, the name of Rachel Corrie has become the terrorists’rallying cry. Her suicidal blocking of an IDF bulldozer attempting todemolish a house that sheltered terrorists has been portrayedthroughout the global media as an act of heroism. Since her death in2003, Corrie’s parents have traveled the world, disseminating adistorted and hate-filled message. In March 2010, the governmentgranted the Corries the right to sue the IDF in Israeli courts. Haveour leaders gone mad?
• “Arye Hershkowitz, may God avenge his death, was killed one month agoin a shooting. Now his son was shot to death near Ofra!!! Only theyounger son can say Kaddish...” – April 29, 2001.
This state of affairs has been a source of deep pain for the grievingfamilies including mine. Like many other bereaved parents, Idesperately want the memory of my angel to live on. Despite the fearsshe articulated in her diary, she managed to live a productive andexemplary life, devoting herself to children in the Ezra movement whereshe was a group leader, volunteering with disabled children, creatingheavenly music with her flute and guitar.
If Malki’s life were properly remembered, her indomitable spirit wouldsurely be a source of inspiration for future Jewish generations. Thesame is undoubtedly true of many other victims of the intifadas. Pleasedo not forget them.
“Today I went to Shaikong and bought Mommy a scarf. Daddy bought her amagnificent card and also a cake, and it actually turned out very nice.Mommy enjoyed it quite a bit. Then I studied for several hours for myexam.” – March 14, 2001.
The writer co-writes This Ongoing War, a blog with her husband. Theirdaughter Malki was 15 when she was murdered in the terrorist attack onJerusalem’s Sbarro restaurant in 2001.