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A Mother’s Pain

A Mother’s Pain

The price of allowing murderers to go free.


Why is it that terror victims are seemingly the only ones against the prisoner exchange? While other Israelis are rejoicing, we are in despair.

Arnold and Frimet Roth circulated a petition against the release of Ahlam Tamimi, an accomplice in their daughter Malki’s murder at the Sbarro pizza shop.

Tamimi says she is happy that many children were killed in the attack. Meir Schijveschuurder, whose family was massacred in the same attack, filed a petition with the high court and says he is going to leave Israel because of his feelings of betrayal. The parents of Yasmin Karisi feel that the state is dancing in their blood because Khalil Muhammad Abu Ulbah, who murdered their daughter and seven others by running them down with a bus at the Azor junction in 2001, is also on the list to be released. Twenty-six others were wounded in that attack.

Why are so many of us against the exchange that allows murderers and their accomplices to go free? Because we know the suffering that these murderers leave in their wake.

Yes, I want Gilad Schalit released. But not at any price. Not at the price we have experienced.

My son Koby Mandell and his friend Yosef Ish Ran were murdered by terrorists 10 years ago when they were 13 and 14 years old. They had been hiking in the wadi near our home when they were set upon by a Palestinian mob and stoned to death. It was a brutal, vicious murder.

We now run the Koby Mandell Foundation for terror victims’ families. We direct Camp Koby, a 10-day therapeutic sleep away camp for 400 children who have lost loved ones, mostly to terror. We also run mothers’ healing retreats and support groups.

Most people don’t understand the continuing devastation of grief: fathers who die of heart attacks, mothers who get sick with cancer, children who leave school, families whose only child was murdered. We see depression, suicide, symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder. You wouldn’t believe how many victims’ families are still on sleeping pills and anti-anxiety medication. We see the pain that doesn’t diminish with time. We literally see people die of grief.

Bereaved families face acute psychological isolation.

Nobody understands us, they often complain.

They mean that nobody understands the duration or the severity of their pain and longing. In the aftermath of a prisoner exchange, this isolation will only be exacerbated.

So will the feeling that our children’s deaths don’t matter.

When people tell me that my son Koby died for nothing, I always used to say: No, it is our job to make his death mean something.

But now I am not sure. It seems that the government is conspiring to ensure that our loved ones’ deaths were for nothing.

Cheapening our loved ones’ deaths only enhances the pain. If Israel is willing to free our loved ones’ murderers, then the rest of the world can look on and assume that the terrorists are really freedom fighters or militants. If Palestinians were murdering Jews in cold blood without justification, surely the Israeli government wouldn’t release them.

No sane government would.

When we were sitting shiva for Koby, a general in the army told us: “We will bring the killers to justice.” I believed him. I took his words to heart. Today I am thankful my son’s killers have not been found. So are my children. Of course, I don’t want the terrorists to kill again. But if they were to be released in this prisoner exchange, I don’t think I could bear it.

We don’t want other families to be put in our situation.

We don’t want terrorists to be free when our loved ones are six feet underground. Ten years after my son was beaten to death, the pain often feels like a prison. In many ways, I am not free.

We don’t want other terrorists to be emboldened because they know that even if they murder, they may not have to stay in prison. President Shimon Peres says he will pardon but he will not forgive. Terrorist victims’ families will not pardon or forgive the government for this release.

We have been betrayed. To pardon terrorists mocks our love and our pain.

Furthermore, terrorism aims to strike fear in an entire society, to bring a whole populace to its knees. During the intifada, the terrorists did not succeed in defeating Israeli society. But to release prisoners now signals to Hamas that their strategy of terror was correct, effective.

They will celebrate wholeheartedly because they have won.

And as a result of prisoner exchanges, the Israeli justice system can only be seen as a joke, a mockery, even a travesty of justice.

It provides no deterrent and no retribution. It’s as if our government says to the killers: Come hurt us again. We’ll be happy to release you one day. We’ll let you go when you demand it.

I want Gilad Schalit home.

We need to protect our own soldiers. But not with a wholesale prisoner exchange. I wish that I could rejoice with the Schalit family. But I can’t. The price is too high.

October 18, 2011

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Visitor Comments: 86

(72) glenda urmacher, January 1, 2013 5:14 PM

terrorists caught should be executed, not held to ransom kidnapped soldiers or citizens. Just think Israeli politicians----if your have no terrorists to trade with your enemy, perhaps there would be no purpose to kidnappings. And no repeat bombings by the terrorists you freed! A win-win solution in my book. And just perhaps, a few Israelis would be alive. It hasn't worked for 60 years , try something new, nu?

(71) Joyce Boim, December 28, 2012 8:13 AM

Murderers let out

I agree withyou 100%. Our son Dovid was killed in a drive by shooting 17 years ago. One murdere blew himself up on BenYehudah and killed and hurt manymore. The second was finally apprehended and killed by our wonderful army because he came out shooting so they were allowed to kill him. I don't think I could bear the thought that my son's murderer was let out in a prisoner exchange. One for one and not thousands. May hashem give us strength and protect us from our enemies from within and without.

(70) Finally. It's about time, October 30, 2011 1:07 AM

Thanks to Mrs. Mandell for speaking some sense and truth

Thank you Mrs. Mandell for speaking sensibly and telling the truth. It’s about time somebody with credibility said what you said. Your leadership has long ago betrayed you. You should show no loyalty to them. I have to wonder how you could ever even consider this group of non-G-d fearing, power hungry, egomaniacs to ever have any sway over you in the first place. The individual who left israel in your story has it correct. The society you find yourself in the midst of is a sinking ship. That anybody could possibly support such a travesty of morality is only indicative of the moral bankruptcy and moral decay present there. And it’s growing. The entire package is based on corruption and immorality and is doomed to failure. What you’re seeing now is just the beginning. Just watch what’s next. The next kidnapping, ransom etc. Your leaders who did this have blood on their hands. All they’ve done is guarantee the next murderous rampage of muslim/arab terrorism.

(69) g h, October 28, 2011 8:06 PM

All is not in vain

We wish often. Wish we did not lose our loved ones. Wish atrocities did not happen. Wish those who do evil would cease, or cease to exist. These are common wishes among all good people, whether Jew or not. There is a world view - an opinion that bends to loud voices and sways with large headlines - but there is an undercurrent.. an impenetrable truth that grows as a crop moves towards sunlight, irrespective of the wind of the current hour. It has its foundation the fundamental right to have your own belief within, and not be attacked for it from without. The world sees that evil done to Israel and its people repeatedly and without provocation; the imagery speaks to this truth, regardless of any leaders' words. You have more support in the hearts of the world than you will ever know, for both your living comrade now at home, and for your sons and daughters lost. Your enemy is not unknown. Your enemy is fooling no-one. Your righteous strength is wholly prevalent in your character, long before it is measured in military terms. I wish you all peace in your soul, to look upon each other with kindred smiles and your enemies to their graves, until the are your enemy no more. - from without, with understanding.

(68) Anonymous, October 28, 2011 5:19 PM

Just as Eikmann got tried and executed in Israel, so should each of the captured terrorist who kills innocent people or is proven to have participated in the act of cold blooded murder. The U.S. has the electric chair for murderers, so should Israel. There would then be no prisoner exchange for murderers! No Hamas/Fatah rejoicing or attempt to capture other Israeli solders. ELECTRIC CHAIR FOR TERRORIST MURDERERS IS IS THE ONLY SOLUTION.

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