by Hugh Fitzgerald
When Reema Dodin, who has been appointed deputy director of the White House Office of Legislative Affairs by Joe Biden, in 2002 expressed her deep understanding of, and sympathy for, all those “desperate people” who became suicide bombers, she must have been thinking of such bombings as these that took place in Israel that very year:
- An outdoor shopping mall in Jerusalem, the Khomron, January
- Karnei Shomron Mall bombing, February
- Efrat Supermarket bombing, February
- Ariel Hotel Lobby bombing, March
- Yeshivot Beit Yisrael massacre, March
- Café Moment bombing
- Egged Bus Bombing
Here’s a list of the seven Israelis who were murdered in that attack on an Egged bus by a “desperate” suicide bomber:
- Mogus Mahento, 65, of Holon
- Bella Schneider, 53, of Hadera
- Alon Goldenberg, 28, of Tel Aviv
- Aharon Revivo, 19, of Afula
- Shimon Edri, 20, of Pardes Hanna-Karkur
- Mikhael Altfiro, 19, of Pardes Hanna-Karkur
- Meir Fahima, 40, of Hadera
That same year, the Passover Day Massacre took place; it deserves special attention.
In the attack, 30 mostly elderly Israelis, some of them Holocaust survivors, were celebrating Passover together. A “desperate” Palestinian understandably had been planning, with others, to express his “desperation” in the only way he could: carefully bringing in a suitcase full of explosives, threading his way to the dining room where the elderly Israelis were assembled, and blowing as many of them as he could to kingdom come.
Here is a list of those who were murdered. There were also 140 wounded, some very seriously: I have not listed their names. I wonder if Reema Dodin will ever see this list. And if she did, would she care? Or only say that she cared?
- Shula Abramovitch, 63, of Holon
- David Anichovitch, 70, of Netanya
- Alter Britvich, 88, of Netanya
- Frieda Britvich, 86, of Netanya
- Andre Fried, 47, of Netanya
- Idit Fried, 47, of Netanya
- Dvora Karim, 73, of Netanya
- Michael Karim, 78, of Netanya
- Eliezer Korman, 74, of Ramat HaSharon
- Yehudit Korman, 70, of Ramat HaSharon
- St.-Sgt. Sivan Vider, 20, of Bekaot
- Ze’ev Vider, 50, of Bekaot
- Ernest Weiss, 80, of Petah Tikva
- Eva Weiss, 75, of Petah Tikva
- Anna Yakobovitch, 78, of Holon
- George Yakobovitch, 76, of Holon
- Sgt.-Maj. Avraham Beckerman, 25, of Ashdod
- Shimon Ben-Aroya, 42, of Netanya
- Miriam Gutenzgan (Gottsegen), 82, Ramat Gan
- Amiram Hamami, 44, of Netanya
- Perla Hermele, 79, of Stockholm, Sweden
- Marianne Myriam Lehmann Zaoui, 77, of Netanya
- Lola Levkovitch, 70, of Jerusalem
- Sarah Levy-Hoffman, 89, of Tel Aviv
- Furuk Na’imi, 62, of Netanya
- Eliahu Nakash, 85, of Tel Aviv
- Chanah Rogan, 90, of Netanya
- Irit Rashel, 45, of Moshav Herev La’et
- Clara Rosenberger, 77, of Jerusalem
- Yulia Talmi, 87, of Tel Aviv
Here’s a little bit about the “desperate” suicide bomber who was responsible for the Passover Day massacre:
On the evening of 27 March 2002, a Palestinian bomber, Abdel-Basset Odeh (or Abd Al-Baset Odeh), disguised as a woman, approached the hotel carrying a suitcase which contained powerful explosives. The suicide bomber managed to pass the security guard at the entrance to a hotel, then he walked through the lobby passing the reception desk and entered the hotel’s crowded dining room.
At 19:30 the suicide bomber detonated the explosive device he was carrying. The force of the explosion instantly killed 28 civilians and injured about 140 people, of whom 20 were injured severely. Two of the injured later died from their wounds. Some of the victims were Holocaust survivors.
That Passover attack did receive widespread coverage. It was surely known to Reema Dodin. Do you think she was horrified? Grief-stricken? Or do you think that she felt, rather, a twinge of sympathy for Abdelbasset Odeh, the suicide bomber who had been driven to such an act, she says, because he belonged to a “desperate people”? Did the thought cross her mind – “What else could he have done? What would you have had him do?” Yes, I think it did.
There were many other terrorist bombings — some of them suicide bombings, others not – in Israel for the rest of that month. And there had been even more bombings the month before, and just as many in the month after. Month after month. This is what Israelis – men, women, and children – have endured, sometimes less and sometimes more, depending on the year, from Palestinian terrorists.
And these bombers have streets and squares named after them by the Palestinian Authority. Their families receive large monthly stipends for those acts of derring-do.
But let’s come back, by a commodious vicus of recirculation, to the point I alluded to in the first line of yesterday’s article. That is the argument that, after all, Reema Dodin made her hideous remark in 2002, and that she should not be held to account for something she said 18 years ago, even though by that time she was already an adult, in her early twenties. That some remarks or behavior can be forgiven, is true for many things, but not for all things. People do change. There is the well-known example of Hugo Black, who, as a young Alabamian, was a member of the Ku Klux Klan. As a Supreme Court Justice, he spent much of the rest of his life as a defender of civil rights.
There are unpleasant attitudes, and behaviors that Smith, Jones, and Robinson may have once exhibited, but then had a real change of heart, and convincingly expressed their shame and chagrin that they could ever have thought or expressed or done such things.
Imagine someone running for office who is discovered to have in the past – at least 18 years before — done one or more of the following that have just come to light.
- Belonged to a college fraternity that did not admit Jews or Blacks.
- Belonged to a country club that did not admit Jews or Blacks.
- Flown a Confederate flag from his car.
- Had a bumper sticker that read: “Don’t let Zionists ruin your day.”
- Signed a petition demanding that homosexuals be banned from marching in the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in South Boston.
- Threw eggs along with other middle-school children at the house of the first Mexican family to move into the neighborhood.
- Took part in a march in support of Augusto Pinochet.
- Sent copies of Madison Grant’s “The Passing of the Great Race” to his Senators and Representatives, accompanied by a note “This is a book you must read.”
- Had a bumper sticker that read: “My son banged your honor student’s math teacher.”
These all represent, albeit with different intensities, some most unpleasant and obvious examples of prejudice, racism, antisemitism, vulgarity, but I can imagine Smith, Jones, and Robinson, who might have been guilty of one or more of the ten listed, over time coming to their moral senses and deploring those memberships, those bumper stickers, those petitions, marches, and books.
But what Reema Dodin said was altogether different and far worse: she was expressing her understanding for, and asking you to join her in it, the suicide bombers who murder as many innocents as they can. She wants us not just to understand why they do what they do, but to sympathize with them. This understanding/sympathizing with mass murderers is like a bumper sticker supporting the early release of that “mixed-up kid” Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. Excuses that are being made for her that all make references to her “youth” at the time she made that remark, but they never actually mention her intolerable statement. Nor has she said a word about it, preferring to have the Biden transition team drum up statements of support from a handful of — three – Senators, making sure that at least two of the three were Jewish. The Biden campaign has chosen to defend her. Why shouldn’t she have defended herself? Why is she herself remaining silent? Why doesn’t she tell us, following a well-worn script, “just how appalled I am at my remark from 18 years ago. It has nothing to do with whom I am today. I condemn it, completely and wholeheartedly”?”
Here is the statement the Biden people have released about Reema Dodin: “Reema is the first to tell you she has grown from her youth in her approach to pushing for change, but her core values of fighting to expand opportunity to building a stronger middle class remain her driving force,” a spokesperson for the transition team said.
She harnessed her activism into action, becoming a well-respected and trusted leader in the US Senate. Her years of Senate experience and perspective will help President-elect Biden and Vice-President Harris respond to our nation’s most urgent challenges.
Notice that the statement does not address the real issue, does not mention her 2002 remark, does not say she no longer believes that “suicide bombers” are merely “desperate people” who have no other way to express themselves. It’s only that she has “grown from her youth” – and you are expecting then to read “and no longer holds the views about “suicide bombers” that she once expressed and which she deeply regrets,” but instead, you read “in her approach to pushing for change.” That’s not an answer. It’s an evasion.
So I’ll repeat the question that can only be answered by Reema Dodin: Do you still believe, or do you regret, and cannot even imagine how you could ever have said such a thing as “suicide bombing Is the last resort of a desperate people”?
Here’s what those three grand panjandrums of the Senate had to say in praise of Reema Dodin:
You would be hard-pressed to find someone as talented, passionate, and whip smart as Reema Dodin in Washington DC,” Oregon Senator Ron Wyden tweetedon Wednesday. “The Biden administration couldn’t have picked a more capable person to join its team to work with Congress.”
Pennsylvania Senator Bob Casey also spoke up for Dodin.
The Biden Administration will need the best hearts and minds in DC and across the country to combat the challenges ahead. In Reema Dodin, they’ve found both,” Casey tweeted.
Connecticut Senator Richard Blumenthal added: “Over my 10 years in the Senate, Reema has been an invaluable source of insight & counsel.
“She is invariably conscientious & caring, & the Biden Admin is lucky to have her. I’ll miss her on the Senate Floor, but look forward to working w/her in her new role.”
This is fulsome praise – in the correct meaning of that word, which is not “extravagant” but, rather, signifies, pejoratively, “effusive, excessive, or insincere praise.”
We don’t want the glowing references from three Senators (two of them Jewish) about how “talented, passionate, and whip smart” Reema D. is, what an “invaluable source of insight and counsel,” so “conscientious and caring” and among the “best hearts and minds in DC and across the country.” That’s all irrelevant to the grim matter at hand.
All we want is for Reema D. to speak for herself, and to have her tell us in her own words what she now thinks about her 18-year-old remark that “suicide bombers are the last resort of a desperate people.” Is she merely “dismayed”? “Profoundly saddened”? “Or “I am truly, genuinely sorry”? Will she say that “Eighteen years ago, I was a totally different person. That’s not who I am today.” Or better, but not there yet, “I am horrified at my words, and at the idea behind them, both of which were inexcusable”? Or would she want to insist that “I was very young, and just wasn’t thinking clearly”? Tell us, Reema, straight out – no more hiding behind references from Senators, please – what you now think about your explaining/understanding/excusing Palestinian suicide bombers.
And then we will be able to judge what, at this point, we think of you.
First published in Jihad Watch.
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