“I want to share with President Bush my thoughts about relations between Israel and the Palestinians, the pain for my daughter who was a victim of terrorism. I want to tell him that the Israelis want the peace process, but the Palestinian government has to make a real effort to fight terrorism, in deeds and not in words.”
So spoke Republican State Senator Bob Singer, whose daughter Sari Singer was wounded last week in the terror attack on Bus No. 14. The President and the senator will meet soon, and then Bush will hear the voices of Israelis wounded in terror attacks, but this time the statements will not come from official spokespeople but from the mouth of a person who was harmed and whom the President knows well from before he was President.
“The Palestinians,” Singer said, “must resist the occupation in legal ways, through negotiation. Murder doesn’t solve problems. I do not see the Palestinians with the Syrians and the Jordanians, dismantling the refugee camps, getting jobs and education for the Palestinians in order to create a better life for them, and so that they will not be dependent on Hamas. I do not see Saudi Arabia investing money there. And if that is the situation, another generation of terrorists will grow up among the Palestinians.”
Sari Singer said the day after the attack that President Bush does not understand the situation in Israel. Senator Singer agrees with her. “Bush should talk with my daughter. He should speak with Americans who live in Israel and have lost loved ones to terrorism. Though I must say that since September 11th, there is greater understanding for Israel. We experienced once what Israel has been experiencing for years.”
Last Wednesday, Singer saw on television what happened in Jerusalem. He never guessed that his daughter was there. “Suddenly a friend of hers called and said Sari was hurt. At first I was very frightened, but later on I spoke with her doctor at Hadassah, and he told me she was not in any danger. After that, I felt anger. Why my daughter? Now I know she was really lucky, and the person standing next to her did not survive. The moment I heard about what happened, I got on the first flight to Israel. I asked the governor of New Jersey for his helicopter so I could get to the airport on time.”
Singer arrived at Hadassah Ein Karem Hospital last Thursday at noon, anxiety plain on his face. “Until I saw her, kissed her and hugged her, I didn’t feel it was all right,” he said.
The senator spent Shabbat at his daughter’s bedside. Her condition has improved, and she is due to be discharged soon. “I want her to come home with me because I want her near me, safe, but she has chosen to remain in Israel. As a Jew, I cannot prevent my daughter from doing that. I only ask that she travel in taxis more.”
Singer supports the Israeli government’s assassination policy completely despite the possibility that innocent bystanders might be harmed. “As long as the Palestinian government does not arrest the leaders who are involved in terrorism, Israel has no other possibility. The Israelis apologize every time a woman or child is killed in such an attack. Who of the Palestinians has apologized for killing seventeen Israelis? It is inconceivable that people should be allowed to kill in the streets and Israel restrain itself. Even the United States would not act that way. Let the Palestinians say what they need to fight terrorism, and they will get it. But let them say it.”
This piece ran on June 15th, 2003 in Maariv