That kid's name was Ofir Rahum. He lived in Israel, in a town called Ashkelon. Some time in 2000, he met a girl online. They hit it off. Gradually he fell in love - and it looked like so did she.
The girl called herself Sally, but her real name was Mona Awana (correct spelling unclear, transcription from semitic languages is always ambiguous). She was a Palestinian, educated in an Israeli university, with a degree in psychology. She was also part of Fatah, Yassir Arafat's organization.
After a while, the two agreed to meet. Ofir went to Jerusalem, where he and the girl got in her car. She drove him to Ramallah. Once they were in Palestinian territory, she got out of the car, and three gunmen started firing upon it.
When Ofir's body was handed over to the Israeli authorities, 36 hours later, it contained no less than 15 bullets.
The gunmen were later killed by Israeli special forces. Mona was arrested, convicted of accessory to murder, and sentenced to life in prison.
A Russian-language Israeli newspaper managed to interview her in April of this year. Their first question, of course, was whether she has any regrets about getting the boy killed.
'Of course not. In two years he would have been conscripted, and told to shoot at Palestinians. So he's an enemy. Any Israeli is an enemy to us - both boys and girls serve in the army.'
According to Mona, Ofir was silent all the way from Jerusalem to Ramallah. How come? Did he suspect anything?
'Most likely he was just scared, but didn't want to show it. I'm a psychologist by training, and in my opinion Ofir had two conflicting feelings in the car on that day. He still believed me, but already had some doubts. Ofir was a strong kid, he could've grabbed the wheel, turned the car off the road and saved himself. But...'
Is she afraid now, in jail? Does she have nightmares about Ofir?
'I'm not afraid of dreams. I'm strong. I have a life in jail. I can watch TV, listen to the radio, read newspapers in Hebrew, Arabic, English. All inmates are allowed three hours a day out in the courtyard. Once every two weeks I see my family. I have plenty of money that different organizations transfer in my name. I get up to fifty letters a day. Some of them are love confessions. A few years from now they'll have to release me, and I'll get married...'
Why am I writing this post? So far I've approached the entire Middle East thing from what I like to think is a detached, reasonably objective perspective. Probably I just need a copy of the story that I can refer to, the next time I get into an Israeli-Arab flame war and people start talking about all the Palestinians imprisoned in Israeli jails.
That, and as an example of the difference between war and terrorism.
Hmm. Personally, I don't find these "personal attack" stories very helpful. So, the current Palestinians trained this girl to become a vicious, unfeeling 'piece of cheese' for an Israeli. Sad, angering, yes. But so what?
The Israeli boy is dead, all the Palestinians have been punished. What further purpose does rehashing the story have? Does it raise your desire for revenge? Does it harden your resolve to kill Palestinians? Does it make you think current or future Palestinians are less human than yourself?
The problem is that both sides must first be worthy of trust, and then both sides must learn to trust the other. This story illustrates that a few Palestinians are not worthy of trust -- but seems to serve as a lesson that all Palestinians are NOT worthy of trust.
Eventually, Palestinians must become worthy of trust. Sure, they're not there yet. This story can serve as a cautionary tale. But I hope you keep the door to trust open for the future.
Trust, but confirm.
Certainly. As I said, when I read the story, it reminded me of the argument that Israel has been holding Palestinians prisoner (implying, of course, that the prisoners are innocent and wrongfully imprisoned).
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