Reuven Rivlin (Image credit: Mark Neyman/Government Press Office of Israel)
Israeli President Reuven Rivlin has been sent a protest letter, as was revealed on Monday, over his surprising decision to reward a volunteer activist who dedicates herself to comforting the families of “Palestinian” terrorists.
On July 2, Rivlin gave out 12 Presidential Volunteer Medals in an annual ceremony. According to the website of the presidential office, the medal is awarded to those “who have raised a unique contribution for the benefit of the state and society in Israel.”
But one of those receiving a reward for her “contribution to the state” was none other than Batya Avisar, a member of the far-leftist NGO Bereaved Families for Peace.
A press release from the presidential office noted the award to Avisar was “for supporting bereaved families and empowering women as a bridge between cultures.” What it failed to mention was that the bereaved families she comforts include those of Arab terrorists, and that her organization effectively conflates the murder of Israeli soldiers defending the Jewish state with the killing of Arab terrorists seeking to destroy the state by equating the “pain” on both sides.
After receiving the prize, Avisar, whose son Uzi was killed during his IDF service in 1977, said: “From the day my son fell, the only thing that I have done in my life is to give help to bereaved families. It doesn’t matter where the bereaved family came from – they all experience the same pain. It is very moving to receive the prize from the president.” After former Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin was murdered in 1995, the Iraqi-born Avisar joined Bereaved Families for Peace.
The NGO's Facebook page, the Parents Circle Families Forum, reported on her receiving the award and described her work as follows: “As an Arabic language speaker and a believer in all people, she manages a friendly, close, and embracing discourse with the Palestinian women, and helps to empower them find work and comforts the familial bereavement and loss.”
A “Disgrace” to the State
Shai Glick, Director-General of the Jewish human rights NGO B’tzalmo, announced on Monday that he has sent a letter to Rivlin protesting the awarding of an activist who openly comforts the families of terrorists who attacked Jews.
In his letter, Glick demanded that Rivlin engage in some “soul searching,” fire the advisory committee that recommended the recipients of the medals, and “give medals only to Zionists.”
The B’tzalmo head termed the granting of the award a “disgrace.” He noted that Bereaved Families for Peace “desecrates” Israeli Memorial Day every year in an “alternative” ceremony that commemorates terrorist murderers as well as Israeli soldiers and terror victims. Citing sources close to terror victims, he added that the award was a serious blow to the victims.
Glick reported that he has yet to hear back from the presidential office.
The members of Bereaved Families for Peace who Avisar works to console include the families of terrorists and murderers. The group’s website introduces some of these members, while justifying terrorist activity through unsubstantiated stories told by the families of the terrorists alleging prior mistreatment by Israeli soldiers.
The “bereaved” honored by the group include one Arab man who speaks about how his grandfather fought to destroy Israel in the 1948 War of Independence, and whose brother and brother’s son tried to shoot Israeli soldiers. Another member is a female terrorist who tried to stab soldiers and met her husband while in prison. This promotion of pro-terrorist narratives is just a small sample of the propaganda work the group conducts in supporting the families of terrorists, legitimizing and normalizing them and their ideology.
Indicating the anti-Israeli political agenda of the group, its Parents Circle Families Forum on Facebook promoted an event to “end the occupation” on July 6, as well as an event with the far-left Meretz political party on September 16.
Rivlin’s support of a group that actively supports the families of those attacking the state follows a long record of far-left views espoused by the former Likud member, including his infamous pronouncement of July 31, 2015: “Members of my people have chosen terror.”
That statement was made following the lethal Duma arson attack, which was quickly pinned on Jews by Rivlin and his compatriots – even though a preponderance of evidence suggests it was the product of an ongoing internal feud. To wit, at least three other houses of the same family have been burned down since, and just several days ago Abdul Dawabsheh, a family member of the victims, was killed during massive clashes in the town around the two-year anniversary of the arson. Two Jews remain in jail awaiting trial after investigators extracted confessions under torture with permission from then-Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein; eye-witness testimony disproves the veracity of the confessions.