A letter to the
families of the Kuta Beach victims
By ARNOLD ROTH, Jerusalem
I never felt more like a father than when taking the hand of
my little daughter Malki and crossing the street with her. There is something so
right and solid about being your child's protector.
I never felt more wretched, frightened and alone than on the
night the call came saying her body had been identified. My daughter was
murdered by a deliberate act of explosive horror. I was not there to protect
Grieving for your murdered loved one will be the most
intensely lonely and personal thing you ever do. No one else can feel the depth
of pain inside you. Friends and family will want to share the burden, to wrap
their love and support around you, to lighten the load by their sincere care and
concern. But the ache remains, along with the feelings of guilt. The cold truth
will never change: an innocent life was deliberately and violently erased - and
the monsters that did it are delighted with their work of their hands.
I wish I could pass along some wisdom that might help you
through this awful time. I can't. The best I can do is share some thoughts. The
massacre at Kuta Beach is too raw, too huge, for anyone to fully comprehend.
Time will help you to put it into a context, but you should not expect the
answers to come easily... or ever.
Time plays a key role in Jewish mourning observances. Some
practices are specific to the first seven days. Others are designated for the
first thirty days. And in the specific case of the death of a parent, Judaism
prescribes a full year of mourning. This seems strange. A parent's passing, no
matter what the circumstances, is always hard. Isn't the death of a life-partner
or a child harder? But that's the point: a year after a parent dies, you can
expect that life starts getting back to normal. But there's no normal life after
burying a child or a spouse.
It's a certainty you are thinking about the people who did
this. You may be imagining them getting out of bed that day, praying to their
god, storing their equipment and driving the lethal load to a site of pleasure
and enjoyment - their minds focused on a lust for the destruction and death of
others. Like me, you may feel this was barbarism: cold-blooded, primal, bestial
- an act of pure hatred.
But get ready for the cold, clinical analysis of others. For
them, the terrorists are "militants". The hatred is
"desperation". The pointless destruction of life is
"strategic". An Australian journalist requested an interview with me
in Jerusalem days after Malki was murdered last year. When I agreed, he told me
it would make sense for his audience only if he could combine it with an
interview of the suicide-murderer's father. He said there were two sides to the
story and the opinions of the bomber's family were a "counterpoint". I
was dumbfounded. His professional standards demanded, he said, that the
interview could not take place under any other conditions. So it never took
Some people see life as if through a TV screen. For them, your
private loss can only be understood as part of a political drama. Point and
counterpoint. But no one should tell you how to mourn, how to grieve. There is
no standard - no over-mourning, no under-mourning. No one can tell you how it
feels or how it ought to feel.
If you're asking what can be done, I want to offer this. When
a young life ends, a huge empty space is left behind. How do you fill it? With
hatred, thoughts of revenge, evening up the score? After our daughter's death,
we sat down as a family and asked ourselves how her life and actions should be
remembered. We decided to raise money and give practical help to families
raising a child with disabilities. Malki, a very practical teenager, did this
herself and believed in it. It would have made her smile.
it's not politically correct to say this, but I believe evil does exist in the
world - a great deal of it.
do you answer evil? For us, the right response has been to do things which we
hope will increase the stock of good in the world. We know this will have no
impact on the barbarians who killed our children and loved ones. But we're
absolutely determined that they won't be impacting us any more than they already
They and their values are irrelevant to our lives.