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To Gideon Levy: You are spreading lies about me

Look at how we 'settlers' who have lost children to terror memorialize them, and rethink your claim of our so-called insatiable 'lust for revenge'
Seth and Sherri Mandell at Camp Koby. (Dena Wimpfheimer/File)
Seth and Sherri Mandell at Camp Koby. (Dena Wimpfheimer/File)

Dear Gideon Levy,

After the Ish-Ran family was seriously wounded, after the baby had to be delivered prematurely and later died, after the baby’s parents had to miss the funeral because they were in the hospital recovering from their wounds, you wrote that you have no sympathy for the settlers, that their tragedy is not yours. Then you added that “the settlers’ lust for revenge is never satisfied. How is it possible to identify with the grief of people who behave like that?”

You don’t have to grieve with the Ish-Rans or mourn with me or others like me or even feel anything for us. But please don’t spread lies about us. Don’t pretend that you know me. Or others like me.

Don’t tell me that because I am a settler I have a lust for revenge. Our son Koby was 13 when he was murdered by terrorists in 2001. I know it won’t matter to you that he and his friend, Yosef Ish-Ran, were in eighth grade when they cut school, went out hiking and, were met by terrorists who beat them to death with stones. Because they were Jews.

Don’t tell the Lemkus family about their lust for revenge. Dahlia Lemkus was stabbed to death in Gush Etzion when she was 26. Dahlia volunteered at Yad Sarah and was working with children with disabilities. Her parents dedicated a social room in the Sukkat David Synagogue (named after another terror victim whose family had a lust for revenge).

Don’t tell the Ariels about their lust for revenge. Hallel Ariel was 13 when she was murdered in her own room. Her parents decided to develop their winery and make a wine in their daughter’s name. They also made a book for bat mitzvah girls.

Don’t tell the families of the three boys, Naftali Fraenkel, Gilad Shear, and Eyal Yifrah, who were kidnapped and murdered, about their lust for revenge. After the murders, the families began a national day of unity.

Don’t tell my family about a lust for revenge. In 2002, we began Camp Koby, a sleepaway camp for children whose loved ones died in terror attacks. We offer them art and drama therapy, yoga, swimming, singing — healing and community. We’ve been running these camps for 18 years. We’ve helped thousands of children.

Gideon, it is true that you lack empathy — but more than that, you lack imagination. You have no imagination for the Jewish story, which is a story of hope that includes the Torah and Jewish history which has led us to live here not only because Israel is a state, but because it is a state of redemption. You cannot imagine that Rachel’s Tomb in Bethlehem and the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron, as well as the tomb of Yosef and Shiloh and the village of Tekoa where Amos prophesied and where my family lives are part of the Jewish story.

It is our enemies who regularly call for revenge. They certainly don’t need your encouragement.

About the Author
Sherri Mandell is co-director of the Koby Mandell Foundation which runs programs for bereaved families in Israel. She is the author of the book "The Road to Resilience: From Chaos to Celebration." Her book, "The Blessing of a Broken Heart," won a National Jewish Book Award in 2004. She can be reached at sherri@kobymandell.org
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