Feb. 18, 2009
Stewart Weiss , THE JERUSALEM POST
Dear Prime Minister Olmert,
On September 30, 2002, our eldest son Ari, a member of the Sayeret Nahal anti-terrorist unit, was killed in battle in a raid on Hamas headquarters in Nablus. You were out of the country during the shiva, arriving only the day after. You phoned us from the airport and asked if you could visit us in Ra’anana; it was a visit that made a deep impression upon us, and convinced us that you were a decent, compassionate person.
Since that day, come what may – through my writing a column in The Jerusalem Post and speaking often about life in Israel all over the Diaspora – I have never uttered a negative word about you in your role as PM. In fact, we have cautioned many around us to reserve judgement and be dan l’kaf z’chut (give the benefit of the doubt) when it comes to you.
But now we are on the brink of what I fear will be a catastrophic moment in Israeli – and Jewish – history. The freeing of hundreds of terrorist murderers – in particular, the two Barghouti butchers who, between them, murdered hundreds of pure Jewish souls and perpetrated the terror massacres at Sbarro, Moment Cafe and the Park Hotel – will be a terrible blow to law and order in Israel, setting a precedent that will certainly result in many, many more tragedies.
WE APPRECIATE the pressure on you to free Gilad Schalit. It must be enormous. But know that there is another side to this issue, as well.
That is the deep feelings of thousands of Israeli family members who paid the ultimate price to the state, who gave up their loved ones in the course of our struggle. To free these Palestinian murderers with so much of our blood on their hands would do more than just insult and demoralize the bereaved families; it would destroy us, and cause us to lose all faith in our country and its leaders.
Everyone – including the Schalit family – agrees that there are prices too high to pay to secure Gilad’s release. Would we give Hamas a nuclear weapon if they asked for one? Would we free Yigal Amir? Would we turn over one of your children – or that of any MK – to be held captive or murdered as the cost of Gilad’s freedom? Setting hundreds of bloodthirsty killers loose on the Israeli public – where they, without a shadow of a doubt, will kill time and time again – is also a price far too high to pay.
I am certain that the Israeli public will support you if you hold firm on what has always been a non-negotiable principle of Israel throughout the years – those who murder Israelis will be held accountable. I am sure that America will also back you; after all, did the United States free the killers of Robert Kennedy or Martin Luther King, or mass-murderers John Wayne Gacy or Charles Manson, or do they remain in jail where they belong and as the public demands, now 30, 40 years after their crime?
I am sure you are concerned for your legacy. Please, let that legacy be one of principle, justice and courage, a legacy that holds sacred the sanctity of life and the refusal to be blackmailed by those who destroy life. Our son died at the hands of terrorists; were they, God forbid, to be released, it would be a moment of horror no less than the day Ari died.
We already have one yahrtzeit for Ari. Please, we implore you, do not bring another one upon us.
Respectfully, Rabbi Stewart and Susie Weiss