Victims put terrorism on trial
The Jerusalem Post - 25 February 2004
By Tovah Lazaroff
Eliad Moreh's life changed forever one July afternoon in 2002. As she sat listening to her friend David Ladowski, 29, telling her a story, a bomb exploded in the Frank Sinatra Cafeteria at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem's Mount Scopus campus.
She survived. He did not.
Survival comes with a responsibility to the dead, said Moreh, who was one of a group of more than 30 terrorism victims who traveled to The Hague to protest against the hearing at the International Court of Justice regarding the legality of Israel's security fence.
They believe that it is terrorism, not the fence, which should be on trial before the international community.
To highlight the absence of terrorism and its victims from the proceedings, the Center for Information and Documentation on Israel held a trial against terrorism on Tuesday afternoon, just a few short blocks away from the ICJ.
"I heard and I see that my country is on trial for trying to protect me," said Moreh. "Israel is on trial for protecting its citizens, people like us, so that other people won't have to go through the nightmare of hell that we have been through. I say, it's about time that terrorism was put on trial instead of Israel when it is protecting its citizens," she told an audience of more than 100 people who had gathered to listen to their testimony.
She was one of more than 15 survivors who stood up at this mock trial and told her story in front of a panel of three European politicians: two members of the European Union's parliament, Charles Tannock, and Anne Andre- Leonard; and Liberal candidate for the Dutch Parliament Anton van Schijndel.
At the end, CIDI, a non-profit group based in the Netherlands, called on the EU parliament to call for a hearing on terrorism.
Tannock said it was shameful that the EU parliament did not send more people to listen to victims. He said the fence is morally and legally justifiable, and that terrorism in Israel is no different from the terrorism in Iraq, Bali, or Moscow.
As a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee, he has been looking into the spending of the 200 million that the European Union has given to the Palestinian Authority, and said it is a disgrace the EU parliament is not doing enough to investigate how the money is being spent.
"Some of it may have ended up in terrorist hands," said Tannock. "It is absolutely intolerable that our taxes should be going to fund any kind of terrorism... It is time some of my colleagues stand up and recognize this," he said.
Leonard said that there had been a number of debates about the fence in the EU parliament. "I had mixed feelings about this. I think today that I understood your point," she said.
Van Schijndel said, "There is a profound shallowness when looking at Israel. You can not put Israel and its people on one equal footing as those who commit these evil deeds." He said that the policy of suicide bombings is part of a a "cult of death" that is growing among some groups of Palestinians.
"It is easy to say, 'no fences, bridges are better,' " said van Schijndel.
It is precisely because she hoped to shift this lack of understanding, said Moreh, that she came to The Hague. As she spoke, she stood in front of a poster of 935 victims of Palestinian terrorism since September 2000.
It is precisely these types of murders of people who are riding buses or sitting in cafes that the fence is trying to prevent, she and the other victims said.
"I came here to speak about the human beings, not about the statistics. We all came here for the same reason, to say we are human beings with the right to live," said Moreh.
"Every one of us recognizes one or more faces in this gigantic poster. These persons have been reduced to silence, they cannot speak. If we the families and the friends, the survivors do not speak for them, who will?" she asked.
"It should be enough to convince you, but every time we see it is not," said Moreh. "I have to speak, I have to tell the world about my revolt, the revolt of someone who was put to death but somehow survived his execution. I was lucky enough to survive, David was not. All these people behind me did not. We are here to speak for them," said Moreh.
"Sometimes I feel that my life was shattered by the bomb, sometime I feel that the field of wounds that I saw inside of the cafeteria is now contained inside of me, that it is myself that I have to build, peace by peace, to find meaning in life again, because that is what terrorism is about, " she said.
The mock trial was not the only protest of the day. The Foreign Ministry, the Jewish Agency, and the World Union of Jewish Students continued to hold events.
Pro-Israel demonstrators were outside the court in the morning for the second day in a row to protest against the proceedings.
They gathered in a small square opposite the ICJ and the police barriers set up to keep the public away. Next to them was a World War II monument.
They stood in a circle in front of the bombed-out shell of the No. 19 Jerusalem bus in which 11 people were murdered last month, holding signs and singing peace songs. They left after an hour.
Members of Zaka (Disaster Victims Identification) than covered the wrecked bus and towed it away. It now heads to the United States. It was parked in front of the court to show that it is terrorism and not the fence, that should be on trial.
"For the first time, the people of Europe have understood what we have been going through for the last three years," said Zelig Feiner. "If a picture is worth a thousand words, this bus is worth a million," he said.
At the very end of the day, many of the victims returned hoping to hold a vigil as the court wrapped up its second day of testimony.
Rain shortened the ceremony. Still holding umbrellas, victims lit memorial candles laid out in a Star of David. They recited Kaddish and held up photos of those killed in terrorist attacks.
Arnold Roth, who lost his daughter Malka, 15, in the August 2001 Sbarro bombing in Jerusalem, said he just hopes that someone was listening.