Monday, March 2, 2015

Not for our sake, HaShem not for ours, but for Your Name’s sake give glory on Your Kindness and Truth

So begins psalm chapter 115 which is part of the Hallel, songs of praise we say on holidays. It was that verse that ran through my mind while waiting for the American court to hand down their decision on the case of the Israel Law Center versus the PA and PLO. Representing eleven families whose loved ones were murdered or injured in seven terror attacks spanning four years from the start of the second Intifada in 2000 the Israel Law Center sued the PA and PLO for inciting, supporting, planning and executing those attacks. Among the witnesses, Rivka,* was my friend and neighbor.

It is Rivka’s husband who is the American citizen and it is her son who was seriously injured when a suicide bomber blew himself up at a bus stop in Jerusalem in 2002. It couldn’t have been easy for Rivka to stand up in front of an American judge and jury and tell her story, but she did so for two important reasons. Even though a  price tag cannot be put on human life and suffering, the amount of money the PLO and PA would need to pay to the victims would be that much less money to support terror. And she did it to honor HaShem. As the second and third verses in psalm 115 reads, Why should the nations say where is their G-d now? Our G-d is in the heavens, all that He pleases He does.

To her surprise the lawyer for the PA and PLO declined to cross-examine her. Instead, he sympathized, agreeing that her story was very sad. However, he qualified his sympathy stating her poignant tale had nothing to do with his clients. If a policeman from New York had shot an individual in New Jersey the state of New Jersey could not hold the state of New York responsible. And, yes, his clients did give money to the families of suicide murderers and jailed terrorist but that was not because they were encouraging attacks on innocent human beings. No, they were passing out compensation to keep those families from entering the cycle of poverty and becoming a burden on society.

Rivka found his arguments shocking and prayed that the jury would see the falsity of his words. Indeed, at the summation the lawyer for the Israel Law Center presented what Rivka thought was a convincing rebuttal. True, if one policeman from New York shot an individual in New Jersey the state of New York could not be held responsible. But what if hundreds of New York policeman shot hundreds of individuals in New Jersey?

The court case had been postponed several times and the summation was not held until Friday, February 20th. That Friday was also the first day of the Hebrew month of Adar, the month when joy increases for the Jewish people. So, Rivka was not really surprised when the jury ruled in favor of her and the other plaintiffs and the PA and the PLO were fined $218.5 million dollars.
Of course there will be an appeal. Rivka has no idea if she will see any of the money or what she will do with it if she does receive her damages. She is happy, though; happy that this time the world heard the truth and HaShem’s honor was defended. Psalm 115 ends with the verse, But we will bless G-d from now and forever. Halleluyah. There are no better words to describe Rivka’s feelings about the trial.

For a hint of just how sad that terror attack of June 2002 was please read my previous post, Not Enough Stones, written a dozen years ago.

*not her real name

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