World Press Review Correspondent
in the afternoon of Sept. 11, 1993, I received a phone call
from the office of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. The caller
wanted to know if I would accept the prime ministers
invitation to travel to Washington, D.C., to witness the signing
of the Declaration of Principles between Israel and the Palestinian
Authority at the White House. This honor was not bestowed
upon me because of any direct contribution I had made to the
Oslo peace process. It was an honor bestowed upon me because
of the circumstances of my life.
am one of four Israelis whose spouses, all of them Israeli
diplomats, were murdered in the terrorist car-bomb attack
on the Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on March
17, 1992. That terrorist attack, executed by Islamic extremists
backed by Iran, was the worst and largest on an Israeli installation;
it left 129 people dead and more than 500 people injured.
After the attack, many Israelis began calling for revenge.
I remember wondering where exactly it was that they wanted
to send Israeli air force planes to carry out the act of military
revenge, as the enemy who had carried out the attack was well
hidden and well protected. I had a choice: I could call for
revenge, or I could continue believing in the dream of peace
that I shared with my late husband and so many other Israelis.
I chose peace.
it is customary for the Israeli media to interview the family
members of those murdered in terrorist actions, in every interview
I gave I called upon the leaders and diplomats of Israel to
continue negotiating with the Palestinians. My only contribution
to the peace process had been that I, an Israeli who had been
personally affected by terrorism, refused to be caught up
in the cycle of hate, which dictates that the only response
to a terrorist attack is a military action of revenge. I believe
that it was for that reason that Yitzhak Rabin decided to
invite me to the signing ceremony.
the moment I accepted the prime ministers invitation,
I remember feeling that God in His infinite justice and loving-kindness
had bestowed upon me a joy that perfectly paralleled the pain
of my loss.
I think of all of this after Sept. 11, 2001, the day the World
Trade Center was destroyed and the Pentagon was attacked by
Islamic extremist terrorists. Since that day I have witnessed
only one real act of courage: The people on United Airlines
Flight 93, which went down in an open field outside of Pittsburgh,
Pennsylvania, acted courageously out of love of country and
not out of hatred for the enemy. Those passengers, realizing
that the plane was headed toward Washington and fearing that
their plane would be used to attack either the White House
or the Pentagon, chose to try to overpower the hijackers and
force the plane down far from its target. Does the American
Operation Infinite Justice match their act of selfless loving-kindness
in Jerusalem, we do not hear the American voices calling upon
their government to react with level-headedness, balanced
diplomacy, and limited military response. We know they exist,
because it was with the help of the Americans that we, Israelis
and Palestinians both, were able to touch peace.
It is with the help of the Americans that Israelis and Palestinian
leaders continue to search for a path to peace despite the
yearlong Al-Aqsa Intifada, despite enduring more than 50 years
of terrorism and war.
Israelis and Palestinians do not understand how it is that
those at the highest levels of the U.S. government can continue
to advise and demand that Israel and the Palestinian Authority
find a way to negotiate while they prepare for the infinite
justice of war.
Israeli national unity government is facing a deep crisis.
Foreign Minister Shimon Peres and the left-wing members of
the government believe that they must find a way to reopen
negotiations with Yasser Arafat and the Palestinian Authority.
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and the right-wing coalition members
point to Operation Infinite Justice and President Bushs
comments to justify their refusal to negotiate and their military
action against the Palestinians. This, they believe, perfectly
mirrors current U.S. policy.
it leaves me the bereaved daughter of a bereaved people who
is sibling to another bereaved people, all of us together
suffering the pain of terrorism and war but still searching
for peace, with only one option. I ask you to remember that
infinite justice is empty unless it is tempered by loving-kindness.
Yes, America, stand tall, have the courage to be like the
people on Flight 93. Do not repeat on a grander scale the
mistake that Israelis and Palestinians have made for so many
years. Do not act out of hatred of the enemy, but instead
out of love for your country.