Orthodox activist calls settlements a big mistake

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He wrote it in response to the news that a group member and friend of Frankenthal's, Roni Hirshenson, lost his second son, 19-year-old Elad, two months ago.

Hirshenson's son Amir was killed in 1995, also at the age of 19, when two bombs exploded next to some soldiers waiting at the Beit Lid junction.

And in a group of men whose sons have all met tragic ends, the story of Elad's death is perhaps one of the most heart-wrenching.

Elad's best friend David was serving to protect the settlers of Netzarim. When one settler wanted to go swimming in the ocean, 12 soldiers accompanied him to ensure his safety. On the way back, one of those soldiers was killed.

Elad was so inconsolable over the death of his best friend, that he committed suicide. In a note left behind, he wrote that he could not continue to live in a country that sends its children to such needless and unwarranted deaths.

After Elad's funeral, Hirshenson asked Frankenthal to write a letter to the settlers of Netzarim.

"To see a mother burying her second son," Frankenthal said, "the human brain cannot live with it."

Being Orthodox, Frankenthal knows many settlers personally. But that does not alter his view. Not only does he believe their presence in the West Bank and Gaza is an obstacle to peace, but that Israeli soldiers should not have to defend them.

"They are wonderful people," he said. "But they are making a big mistake. They are fighting something we cannot win."

In his open letter to the settlers, he asked: "Why in God's mercy do you continue to inhabit this cursed place that has demanded so many lives? Where is your mercy on the children who are in peril? Where is your mercy for a mother who buried two of her children? Is God's spirit within you? Is your God the belief in a messianic settlement that has nothing to do with the security of Israel?

"Had we been in the place of the Palestinians, would we have not done more and more acts of terror in order to get our own state?" he continued. "Why should the Palestinians be any different? Again, please don't tell me that I am a defeatist and that I am prepared to surrender mother earth and that I want peace at any cost and that I do not understand the course of history. Not at all. I have been 'fighting' for peace together with Roni for many years, not just recently, and we have been doing so in order to prevent more and more unnecessary deaths."

The Palestinians are fighting for their freedom, Frankenthal said, and one only has to look at history to realize that the occupier cannot come out the victor. Had the British controlled pre-state Israel longer, the Jews would have resorted to the same methods, he believes.

"For us, the Land of Israel is very important and beloved. A land where our children can live, not a land that consumes its children. Is land more important than a human being? What makes you believe that this forsaken damned hole — Netzarim — that has cost so many lives, is worth bringing our children to the slaughter? Can you not understand that your path leads to the slaughter of our children?"

— Alexandra J. Wall