by Jewish soldier:
Rabbi's condolence visit to mourning Arabs
Published: 9 August 2005
Briefing Number 151
|This Briefing describes the
visit by well-known Israeli rabbi Menachem Froman to the
Israeli Arab village of Shfaram to offer condolences to
mourners following the fatal shooting of four Israeli Arabs
by a Jewish soldier on 4 August. The visit, and the local
reaction, highlight how it is possible, even at a time of
conflict and mistrust, to create bonds of common humanity
between Jews and Arabs.
Jewish soldier’s shooting attack on Israel Arabs
On 4 August 2005, 19-year old Jewish soldier Eden Natan-Zada
shot and killed four Israeli Arabs on a bus in the Israeli Arab
town of Shafaram. Many more were wounded. Natan-Zada, who had
recently deserted the Israeli army in protest over the Israeli
Government’s policy of disengagement, and was associated
with far-right groups, was killed immediately afterwards by
a mob of Arabs.
Israel’s leaders condemned the shooting in strong terms.
Prime Minister Sharon called it “a heinous act”.
Rabbi Froman’s visit to Shfaram
Two days after the attack, funerals of the Arab victims took
place in Shfaram, whose population is 70% Muslim and 30% Druse.
The funerals were not only attended by the local townspeople.
Also in attendance was the Rabbi of the West Bank settlement
of Tekoa, Rabbi Menachem Froman, and his wife.
The Rabbi spent the Jewish Sabbath in Shfaram in order to attend
the funerals, recite eulogies and offer words of condolence.
His visit was reported on the Internet on 7 August by a small
agency called the Israel Resource News Agency, and this Briefing
is based on their report.
Rabbi Froman’s words of condolence and eulogy
Rabbi Froman declared in his eulogy that “all people
who believe in God, no matter how they worship God, express
their outrage at such an act” and added that “we
the Jewish people in the land of Israel share the pain and suffering
of the families today and wish to share our community’s
condolences in the loss of your loved ones….”. He
spoke for 10 minutes to the large assembled crowd, and also
read out a letter from the Israeli Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar.
The positive reaction from the townspeople of Shfaram
Rabbi Froman is a right-wing Rabbi and strongly opposed to
Israel’s disengagement from Gaza. He was greeted before
speaking with chants of ‘Death to Settlers’. Yet
after he spoke, the atmosphere apparently changed. His words
were received with a long ovation, and according to the same
report, throughout the Sabbath residents of the town and leading
clerics belonging to the Israeli Islamic movement “expressed
their appreciation” to Rabbi Froman for “delivering
a message of peace and reconciliation at a time of conflict”.
Conclusion and key messages
The visit highlights how it is possible, even at a time of
conflict and mistrust, to create bonds of shared humanity between
Jew and Arab.
It also challenges the perception that Israeli settlers are
oblivious to the human experience of Arabs. In fact, Rabbi Froman
has a long track record of religious dialogue initiatives with
Arabs, in Hebron and elsewhere. And on this occasion he must
have undertaken the visit at considerable personal risk.
Has an Imam visited Israeli families of terror victims and publicly
expressed his condolences in this way?