Last week, we published the story of Ohad Hertz who went to the military court and gave a pointed and powerful speech to the terrorist who had attempted to murder him. I have since found out that this was not a unique event. Mendy Rivkin was seriously injured in a stabbing attack in Givat Zev, on the outskirts of Jerusalem. A few days ago, he faced his attacker in court during the justifications for punishment stage. Attorney Avi Guez, who works at Shurat HaDin sent me the text of Mendy’s words.
“Your honor, the military court. Your honor the military prosecutor. I find it very difficult to express my feelings in this situation, but I will try to share them with you. Almost three years ago, late in the evening, this despicable terrorist tried to murder me. I can recall that, in the first few minutes after the stabbing, I was very focused on thinking of the things that I as a believing Jew am meant to think about in the last minutes of life on this earth as I transition into the next world. But, I immediately began fighting, trying to gather any remaining strength to remain alert and not fall asleep, in an effort to survive, for my wife and children.
I also remember the first few minutes after I woke up. I experienced extreme excitement and crying. I was crying from the thought that a person whom I had never harmed had almost robbed my wife of her partner in life, and my children of their father. My wife and children almost joined a parallel world, a world of orphans and widows, a world of yearning for a father who is no longer with them, a world of pain and sorrow that never goes away. Just the thought that this almost happened to them has not left me, and has not left me since. From the day of the terrorist attack, and quite likely until my dying day, I have been in a daily battle, on my instigation, to return to ordinary, daily life. From the time I woke up and until this very moment, I feel that I returned from the brink of death to serve as a mouthpiece for hundreds and thousands of fathers and mothers, sons and daughters, grandmothers and grandfathers who would do anything to be in my situation and to be able to talk. But their voice has been silenced. They lie for eternity in cemeteries, having been slaughtered in terrorist attacks. This is my message: The Torah states in Bereishit: “Whoever sheds the blood of man through man, his blood shall be shed.” It is forbidden to forgive or pardon such a person, who placeshimself beyond the definition of a human being. It is not only a question of punishment, but also of deterrence. Therefore, my request to the honored judges is as follows: Please do not view the judicial process as a technical one to follow the letter of the law. Please make a sincere effort to deter potential murderers from carrying out their evil plans. I understand that the prosecution is demanding financial compensation for the harm done to me. This is indeed the case, and as part of the justifications for punishment, I am eligible for compensation. However, I am prepared to forfeit this so that this terrorist will spend more time in jail. Now I will turn directly to the terrorist, his family and others like him and quote two verses from the Tanakh: “Take counsel and it will be foiled; speak a word and it will not succeed, for God is with us.” “Sing out praise, you nations, for His people! For He will avenge the blood of His servants, inflict revenge upon His adversaries, and appease His land and His people.”