I speak publicly more and more frequently about the experience my family and I have gone through since our daughter Malka Chana z”l was murdered 21 months ago in Jerusalem. It sometimes happens that a person in the audience will ask me a question along the following lines: “The Arabs kill the Jews’ children, the Jews kill the Arabs’ children. There’s so much hatred. It can’t keep going that way. How can peace ever happen if you Israelis don’t change your tough attitude?”

I try to explain how very different the Jewish attitude is from this alleged “cycle of violence” mentality. I say to such questioners that we hope for peace, pray for it every day, educate our children towards it. We see the Arab leadership as having made catastrophic mistakes – teaching its children to hate, turning them into barbarians and robbing them of their future and of their human dignity. I say that Israel’s obligation to its own people is to seek peace — and to first ensure security, protecting our towns, our kindergartens, our pizza restaurants.

All too often, my words seem to fall on deaf ears. For many people, this is all just too complicated. They seem to find it easier, less challenging, to think of this Palestinian Arab war as being one fought between two troubled sides, each bearing roughly the same degree of blame.

Every so often, we get to look through a window that’s normally closed — a window that is revealing for those who are ready to take the trouble to understand. Here’s such a window, one which provides insight into the base truth about what’s going on in this war… a war waged by Arab barbarians and thugs who have hijacked the language of nationhood, of liberation, of human rights.

Read now the words of Dr Mahmoud Zahar, the senior spokesperson for Hamas who was interviewed in the BBC by Tim Sebastian on location in Gaza for the Hardtalk TV program on 20th May 2003. Part of the interview has been transcribed in full below – the whole thing can be viewed online at news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/programmes/hardtalk/3043915.stm

To remind you, Hamas is the organization which carried out the massacre at the Sbarro restaurant on 9th August 2001 in which my daughter Malki, her best friend and thirteen other innocent children, teens, mothers and other civilians were cold-bloodedly murdered by a barbarian thug and a long, long line of their henchmen. (For the record, there remain serious observers like the Telegraph newspaper in the UK which persist in describing Hamas as “a legitimate resistance movement bent on liberating Palestinian land”. You can see this under the heading: “The Islamic groups dedicated to change” online at www.portal.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2001/09/17/wsas317.xml)

Please consider sharing this with others. Think particularly of friends with views like those of the well-known Australian journalist who told me his interview with me in August 2001 needed to be part of a double-headed interview — the murderer’s father on one side, me on the other — on the grounds that that man’s son’s suicide death and my daughter’s murder were, as he put it, two sides of the same coin. (The interview did not take place.)

Let’s do what we can to explode the abhorrent nonsense of a cycle of violence. The lives of innocent Israelis depend on it.

Good wishes,

Arnold Roth


TS: Dr. Zahar, I asked you a very simple question, if Israel accepts your conditions which are calling for the elimination of the occupation and an end for the Palestinian suffering will you renounce violence totally? Yes or no?

MZ: We are going to cease fire, and only cease-fire.

TS: Yes or no to that condition – yes or no?

MZ: I answered you – it’s not the way to say yes or no. We are not –

TS: so how can Israel trust your assurances ever if you can’t even give a straight answer to a straight question? How can they trust you?

MZ: The question is –

TS: If Israel withdraws –

MZ: If they withdraw from our land, if Israel is ready to say that we are not going to re-attack, and re-occupy our country –

TS: If they said that…

MZ: It’s a big if – it’s just imagination – they are not going to, they did that before. They occupied our country in ’48, they occupied our area in ’56, they occupied our area in ’67, they occupied in ’82, so the history is telling us that with Israel, it is impossible to stop their aggression.

TS: What you’re telling me then there are no circumstances in which you will give up violence until you ve pushed Israel into the sea, that’s what you want, isn’t it?

MZ: I’m not saying that –

TS: You are saying that, aren’t you??

MZ: I’m giving you it frankly – the attitude of Islam is not to accept a foreign state in this area

TS: Until Israel ceases to exist, you won’t lay down your arms, is that right?

MZ: First of all we are a part of a Pan-Islamic state

TS: Yes or no?? I am asking you a very fair and straight question

MZ: I am giving you what is the attitude of thousands of, millions of people here

TS: But you won’t give me a straight answer to a straight question

MZ: Because this will not be implemented, an independent state will be a small part in what is called a Pan-Islamic state; it will be in part with Jordan, with Syria, with Egypt

TS: Why do you keep on with this attitude? You are seen by many people in the world as a bunch of ruthless killers and fanatics. Are you happy with that?

MZ: We are not happy. These people are not seeing except the fault. These people are considering Islam as their enemy, as terrorists, this is a historical mistake. Because Islam is the supreme power in this area. Sooner or later we are going to achieve our power, our moral principle, our virtue in order to augment the (Islamic) state

TS: What with? What are you going to achieve it with? Explosives strapped onto a suicide bomber, you really think that is going to help you achieve your ends?