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Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Warning: Politics Ahead

I understand that many of you who come here are not particularly interested in Middle East politics.  That's fine... because I seldom make more than a passing reference to politics here on treppenwitz.  However, today you get the full treatment, so if this isn't your bag please stop by another time.

I apologize for not responding to your thoughtful comments on Sunday's post in a more timely manner.  Within a short time of publishing that post there was a shooting attack about 5 minutes drive from my house (at the Gush Etzion Junction), and I really wasn't in the mood to be chatty.... so I just immersed myself in preparations for the coming holiday for the rest of Sunday and Monday.

Monday evening marked the start of the holiday of Sukkot ... the holiday referred to as 'Zman Simchateinu' (our time of rejoicing).  While I love this holiday and enjoyed spending time with my family, I found it hard to celebrate when families close by are grieving for their children.

For those who don't follow such thing (or who live in places where dead Israelis don't merit much press coverage), here are the specifics of the attack:

On Sunday afternoon a bunch of kids and young adults were standing at a bus stop/trempiada (hitchhiking stand) at the Gush Etzion Intersection.  Just after 4:00 a Subaru pulled up and a terrorist in the back seat stuck an AK-47 out the window and fired several bursts at the people standing there.  Six people were hit by gunfire before the car sped south towards Hevron.  Of the six people hit, three died of their wounds.  They were Oz Ben-Meir, a 14 year old boy from the village of Maon:
(c) Ynet

Matat Rosenfeld-Adler, a 21 year old newlywed from the village of Karmel who was just married two months ago:
(c) Ynet

and Matat's 23 year old cousin Kineret Mandel (also from Karmel):
(c) Channel 2

In addition, there are still three other young people still in the hospital with horrendous wounds.. . two of them in intensive care.

A few hours after the shooting the Egyptian ambassador to Israel made a public statement saying that the attack was "too small to stop the process of calm in the region".  I spent quite a bit of time wondering just exactly what he could possibly be talking about. 

Look at the innocent faces of these three young people who now lie in their graves.  Forgive me if I don't find anything about this attack to be 'small'.  Not a single day has gone by in recent months that an infiltration/attack hasn't been attempted or prevented.  Not one day!  Forgive me if I don't find this 'calm' worth preserving. 

Our close ally, the US, has predictably tried to strong-arm Israel into not responding to the attack.  Because, as we all know, not responding to terror attacks has proven to be an effective deterrent to terrorists all over the globe.  But so far Israel has provided what I would call a measured response:

All of the 'confidence building gestures' Israel has made since the disengagement such as removing roadblocks/checkpoints and allowing free passage to the Palestinian population in Judea and Samaria (the West Bank) have been rescinded.   Life is going to be very difficult for the Palestinians for the near future... and they have nobody to blame but themselves.  It seems like every single act of decency on the part of Israel is met with exponential acts of Palestinian terror.

Where are the people who promised me that if we would only get out of Gaza we would turn a corner and find a partner for peace waiting for us?  Where are the people who told me how I have to understand that the Palestinians are only reacting to the harsh closures imposed upon them by the occupation?  We got out of Gaza and things immediately got worse.  We removed the roadblocks and allowed the Palestinians free movement and the terror groups used their new-found freedom to strike at us and escape! 

I'm sure I'm over-simplifying by what I'm about to say, but I feel like the only time in Israel's history that it has ever enjoyed relative calm (not the kind the Egyptian ambassador was talking about) is when it had a policy of hugely disproportionate military response to every single attack, and an ironclad policy of not negotiating with terrorists.   

I'm sure I'll regret writing all this by tomorrow, but that's how I feel right now.


Posted by David Bogner on October 19, 2005 | Permalink


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Killing terrorists and their enablers is the ONLY way to deal with them.

We here in the US will pay (are already paying) a horrible price for enabling Arab terrorists in Israel.

Finish the wall. Kill your enemies. Forget about your enemy's enablers. No matter who they are. Or just go on dieing and watching your children being slaughtered.

The world will cut you off but so be it. Perhaps there are enough real Jews in the rest of the world to help you through the bad times.

You suffer because you have committed adultry with false gods. The false gods of commerce and world politics. It will get worse and worse and worse still until Israel stops compromising.

Posted by: Scott | Oct 19, 2005 2:13:08 AM

Good for you. It has to be said, don't regret it. People need to face reality.

Posted by: Yehudit | Oct 19, 2005 3:41:26 AM

"You suffer because you have committed adultry with false gods. The false gods of commerce and world politics."

Oh puleeze.

Posted by: Yehudit | Oct 19, 2005 3:41:58 AM

Forget about politics this is a horible act of homicide and it seems as if there is no justice. I don't see why you should regret what you wrote. I do think you could have picked a better title like: Three beloved children murdered. There are many lives shattered as a result of this dispicable act--there is no excuse or any political motavation that can justify this action. Families will be waiting through endless days and nights while their children lie in ICU. Pray for the peace of Jerusalem. Love Dave.

Posted by: Dave B | Oct 19, 2005 4:05:29 AM

David - I'm glad you wrote about this. I didn't keep up with international events and politics much until recently and, now that I do, I feel like I am playing catch-up to really figure out the history of what is going on everywhere. Reading this brought home the tragedy and reality of what is happening in Israel - much more so than the standard media coverage ever could. So, thank you for writing it and I will have all the families there in my thoughts and prayers. - Jenna

Posted by: jg | Oct 19, 2005 4:39:48 AM

David, you should never regret what you write in moments of moral clarity. In a year or two you'll see this post and be proud of yourself for having been so angry when it's so easy just to say, I don't feel like being angry now, I'll be angry the next time Jews are killed.

Also, forget about American pressure. If we wanted to eliminate the animals who engineered this attack, it could be done in 15 minutes and we'd be getting high-fives from the Americans. But Sharon won't respond to this attack or others because it would force Labor out of the coalition and his flimsy government would fall.

Posted by: NG | Oct 19, 2005 5:38:20 AM

Adultery with false gods? That's like adultery and idolatry at the same time. Pretty impressive.

Posted by: NG | Oct 19, 2005 5:42:04 AM

It's a terrible loss. A huge attack. Huge.

Posted by: mirty | Oct 19, 2005 6:33:19 AM

Proof that evil walks among us. Those that brainwash young men to do this are the lowest form of life.

Posted by: christopher | Oct 19, 2005 6:41:20 AM

No apology is necessary. People need to hear and feel the outrage.

Posted by: Jack | Oct 19, 2005 6:50:27 AM

"The current leadership in Israel leaves a lot to be desired about if Palestinian terror continues. The price being paid for peace now is far greater than the intentions looming in boardrooms as the PA "tries" to find peace with Israel. It's only fair to say as a supporter of Israel that the extreme "leftists" or "rightists" have a reason to complain for now, but the baseline is and will be that without peace we cannot be at inner-peace as our families live in Israel, with prospects of study in Israel and with love for a prosperous democracy in the Middle East." I wrote this in One Jerusalem sometime back during the disengagement. After the murders in Gush Etzion I’m not surprised at the kind of intentions the PA and Company have in store for Israel.

Posted by: kakarizz | Oct 19, 2005 7:39:08 AM

I was very sad reading this. I won't put a political spin on it. Although I am aware that there are spin doctors who can really run with it from both sides. Three young people are dead and humanity should mourn its loss, their families' loss. I am sorry that there is a husband who won't come home and swoop up his wife of two months and suggest that they get started on that new family before putting dinner on the table. I am sorry that a young boy will never be a grown man with children of his own. I am sorry that their families have been given a reason to hate. I'm just sorry.

Posted by: nrg | Oct 19, 2005 9:49:38 AM

nrg, the Jewish response to attacks like these is not hatred. It is exactly the opposite. When a loved one is killed, the family preserves his or her memory by doing some extra good in the world, not by hating. Here is one example. Here is another. And here is yet another. And still another.

I'll leave the comparison of what the other side does to others, since I would rather not pollute such a lovely site as this with the required links.

Posted by: Rahel | Oct 19, 2005 11:15:51 AM

Scott... While I agree with much of what you said, I hope you didn't mean the part about killing enablers. Not only would this be a call to armed insurrection against much of the political world here in Israel, but also against many of our so-called allies. Hold on to the anger, but make sure it doesn't get away from you, my friend.

Yehudit... Thanks for the moral support. This is not a political blog, and I am (mostly) not a political person. But I wanted people to see the faces and not forget so easily that these were real live people who were murdered... not statistics. As to your response to Scott, try to remember that scene near the end of Animal House where Bluto says, "Over? Did you say, 'over?' Nothing is over until WE decide it is! Was over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor? Hell no!" Clearly Scott was waxing a bit old testament in his comment. But as Otter responded in animal house, "Forget it. He's rolling." :-)

DaveB... Thanks for that... It feels good to have confirmation/validation of my rage from someone with a little more perspective than I can muster right now. Regards to the family and special hugs for Joshua.

Jenna... Don't feel bad. I live here and am still playing catch up with history. The big problem is that the media insists on presenting a carefully selected assortment of facts that do not take into account any of the background or history. Also, no matter what the atrocity perpetrated by the Palestinians, it is always 'balanced' by the mention of Israel killing someone (without mentioning that the someone was a wanted terrorist). This is why the term 'even handed' has become a sort of curse here in the region.

NG... I don't know if I agree completely with your thesis. A recent poll of registered members of Labor shows that nearly as many want Sharon to PM as Peres. I don't think Sharon fears losing support from the close left. I also don't think the US state dept. would be doing anything close to giving us high fives if we acted on our intelligence and offed the entire terrorist command structure in one fell swoop. As to Scott... as I mentioned to Yehudit, Scott's comments were a bit 'old school', but for the time being we've decided to find it cute. :-)

Mirty... So huge that the NY times didn't see fit to mention it, and CNN only mentioned it as a way of also mentioning that Israel killed a Palestinian (a wanted terrorist who fired on Israeli troops sent to arrest him). Yeah... huge.

Christopher... Unfortunately, a lot of support goes to these brainwashed young men from the US pacific northwest (meaning SF and points north). The American Left needs to find a way to separate domestic and foreign issues. They tend to be dead on (IMHO) when it comes to issues of social justice at home and so far off on the same issues abroad that it is beyond belief.

Jack... OK, and then what?

Kakarizz... The PA's intentions have never wavered. One thing I will never accuse the Palestinian leadership of is not telling us what's on their mind. They have said since day one that their intention is a war of phases that will end when not one Jew remains in the land. I don't know why more people don't take them at their word.

nrg... There is no political spin possible. This is not a partisan issue. Either civilians are off limits in a war or they are not. If one makes an allowance for targeting civilians then both sides should be free to act this way. This is obviously not my preference... but if the world wants to give the terrorists a blank check to target Israeli civilians under the guise of 'understanding their frustration and rage', then I think the gloves should come off and we should treat Ramallah as the allies treated Dresden and Tokyo. I am a closet left so this kind of statement makes me sick as I see it typed on the screen by my own fingers... but fair is fair. Either both sides are bound by international conventions of war or neither side is. It can't be only the Israelis.

Rahel... Thanks for the timely response.

Posted by: David | Oct 19, 2005 11:19:33 AM


I think it is wonderful that families respond to loss by doing something positive and exceptional in the world. But I read a veiled and/or open hatred many places in this and other blogs, both in the entries and the comments. I'm not saying that those who have these natural feelings aren't totally justified in having them, I just feel sad that it is an emotion they have to experience. And hatred can exist side by side with honoring a memory and doing good in the world. Feeling hatred and acting on it are two very different things, in my opinion.

There is always a political spin possible. Things that shouldn't be politicized often are. Definitions of fair can also vary depending on who you are asking. But, political is not where I wanted to go, and a discussion of what is right and what is wrong will always be affected by the points of view of those discussing. Where we can and and will probably always agree is that those individuals who have a disregard for human life cannot be defended, respected or made excuses for...and that those who lose innocent loved ones deserve our sympathy and compassion... no matter who they are, where they live, or what they believe.

Posted by: nrg | Oct 19, 2005 2:51:38 PM


I think it is wonderful that families respond to loss by doing something positive and exceptional in the world. But I read a veiled and/or open hatred many places in this and other blogs, both in the entries and the comments. I'm not saying that those who have these natural feelings aren't totally justified in having them, I just feel sad that it is an emotion they have to experience. And hatred can exist side by side with honoring a memory and doing good in the world. Feeling hatred and acting on it are two very different things, in my opinion.

There is always a political spin possible. Things that shouldn't be politicized often are. Definitions of fair can also vary depending on who you are asking. But, political is not where I wanted to go, and a discussion of what is right and what is wrong will always be affected by the points of view of those discussing. Where we can and and will probably always agree is that those individuals who have a disregard for human life cannot be defended, respected or made excuses for...and that those who lose innocent loved ones deserve our sympathy and compassion... no matter who they are, where they live, or what they believe.

Posted by: nrg | Oct 19, 2005 2:52:08 PM

Apparently, such violence is Israel's "reward" for pulling out of Gaza? From a Reuters article --http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/L19549530.htm -- on road restrictions:

The army had billed the new restrictions as temporary to protect Israelis from further attack in the territory, which many analysts believe will become the focus of renewed violence following Israel's pullout from Gaza last month.

Didn't many people predict this? Was no one listening, or was the price deemed appropriate? Shameful.

Posted by: mirty | Oct 19, 2005 4:23:20 PM


I am reading Natan Sharansky's The Case for Democracy. It's extraordinary. I'd love to hear your opinion of him from over there. The only thing I would add to your suggestion of the Israeli response to terror (with which I entirely agree) is Sharansky's demand that Israel link further concessions to Palestinian moves to open their society, i.e. freedom of the press, freedom to dissent, etc. This freedom, Sharansky argues persuasively, is ultimately as lethal to totalitarian regimes as military action.

Posted by: Doctor Bean | Oct 19, 2005 4:24:54 PM


The question of "and then what" is as you know one of the great dilemmas. So here is my nickel response.

I would have liked to have seen great fanfare surrounding this incident in which Israel loudly proclaimed its disgust at the murder of citizens, especially in light of the recent pull out of Gaza which was done in an effort to bring peace.

I'd harp on the response of the Palestinians to the pull out and mention the burning of synagogues,the intent to use one by Hamas as a museum celebrating violence and how this is yet another slap in the face at "good faith and trust building measures" that have been undertaken by Israel.

I'd also make it clear that responses to such actions are going to be swift and severe.

Now if you ask me if I think that the world will suddenly reverse course and agree I would have to say no.

But you know as well as I that hasbara is an issue that needs more care and attention. The message needs to be repeated over and over so that sooner or later people start to respond to it.

Posted by: Jack | Oct 19, 2005 4:39:08 PM

As I see it now, whatever Israel does in response to terrorism - measured or heavy - will be condemned both by the United States and the international community. The United States has a stake in the peace process and the international community, well, I shan't go into my rant about the international community, but nothing more can be expected from it. Israel has to do whatever it takes to protect its citizens - it's as simple as that. This attack, although it didn't surprise me, filled me with so much rage against those idealists who thought even for a moment that disengagement would solve anything, that I don't know what else to say.

Posted by: Irina | Oct 19, 2005 4:56:11 PM

David, one ohter thing. If you have a link handy to the US response in this case, I'd appreciate it. I'd very much like to see it.

Posted by: Doctor Bean | Oct 19, 2005 5:37:48 PM

I am changing the subject. Why are you the only one faithful to your blog. Why do the others even bother.

Posted by: Ma? | Oct 19, 2005 6:02:00 PM


What is it that you are asking?

Posted by: Jack | Oct 19, 2005 6:19:10 PM

In response to Jack. I enjoy the blogs on Kumah. But when you have only one blogger faithful to the readers, (which is David), one becomes bored with the daily ritual of checking the blogs for different inputs. Lisa always has a story, but how do we get her to become more faithful. I like Balagan's silly rantings, but where is she now...Kumah blogs are my break time, is it back to the coffee pot, and chit-chat with co-workers during my break, or, will the rest of the bloggers become more faithful???

Posted by: Ma? | Oct 19, 2005 6:34:36 PM

Rahel, actually the Jewish way is to hate - to hate evil and to stamp it out wherever possible and not to let it fester and keep striking at us relentlessly. Responding with love and charity is also essential, but hating evil is mandatory.

Posted by: NG | Oct 19, 2005 7:20:36 PM

Hi Ma,

Gotcha, that makes a lot of sense. FWIW, there are a lot of blogs that discuss Israel, they may not all do it from the perspective of someone living there, but there are quite a few to choose from.

Not to mention that I am not sure how complete the Kumah list is. But that is a separate issue and now back to your regularly scheduled programming regarding beekeeping, liver, dogs, children and coffee.

Posted by: Jack | Oct 19, 2005 7:52:04 PM

NG, apropos your point: the way I read it, our obligation is to *remove* evil where possible (in Hebrew: u-vi'arta et ha-ra mikirbekha -- you shall sweep out the evil from your midst). I'm sure you're familiar with the distinction made by Beruriah, wife of Rabbi Meir, in the Talmud. He wanted to pray against sinners; she suggested that he pray against the sins they were committing. He followed her suggestion and it worked; the sinners repented and became decent people.

So how do we combat evil in the world? From what I see, by adding as much good as we can.

As for what the government and the army ought to be doing, that's another matter entirely.

Posted by: Rahel | Oct 19, 2005 9:12:51 PM

nrg... Just because something can be spun does not mean it is correct or even just to do so. It is unthinkable that Israel is expected to recite it's historical and legal right to its present borders each and every time one of its citizens is murdered. Even more so, it is unspeakable that when Israel (or it's defenders) does not do so the media develops amnesia and creates moral equivalency between innocent victims like the three young people pictured above and the likes of terrorists who hide among civilians as they make their bombs and fire their rockets. I am not taking you to task over your position because I have no idea what your position might be. I am just making sure you understand that in a world where morality and justice reign, not everything can or should be spun. I appreciate your sensitivity and recognition of what these families have lost.

Mirty... Reuters has always had a very 'even handed' slant to its coverage of the region. They are incapable of reporting on any Israeli deaths... even innocent civilians who are butchered in the street... without bringing up some alleged Israeli wrongdoing to balance the ledger. In the long run it makes no difference that people predicted this next round of attacks... it only matters how we respond.

Doctor Bean... I am a big Sharansky fan, but he will probably never be able to earn one of the top spots in politics here because he is to honest and straightforward. He doesn't know how to 'play the game'. As to the US position, Here is a link.

Jack... Bad Hasbara (propaganda) is always blamed for Israel's inability to make its case in the court of world opinion. I don't agree. Israel owes only the US an accounting for its actions (because of the huge amount of foreign aid we receive), but even that has limits. No matter how much foreign aid Israel gets, that money does not obligate Israel to commit nation suicide. The sooner we wean ourselves off of US foreign aid the better (IMHO).

Irina... I agree with you (and so would most Israelis). However our problem is that our government has lost much of its resolve/moral clarity... and it crosses almost all party lines. I don't know what the solution to this problem is.

Ma... If I understand you correctly, you probably find me to be 'faithful' to my readers mostly because I write things that you enjoy at about the intervals that you like to read them. Each blogger/journaler has a different tempo, style and reason for writing. You mentioned your dissatisfaction with two of the finer writers in the j-blogosphere, so please allow me my own opinion: Lisa ( On the face) is arguably the best writer in this part of the blogosphere. She is a talented professional journalist with the education, experience and other bonifides to go along with that title. She also has a rare gift for being able to crystallize her experiences into perfect, emotionally satisfying narratives. However she does not blog according to a schedule and only seems to write when she has something to worthwhile to share (and her hectic work schedule allows). I'm grateful for every post she publishes. Rinat's blog ( Balagan) is anything but silly. In fact, hers is the one blog I'd recommend to anyone contemplating aliyah. She is the quintessential successful immigrant story. While she is fiercely proud of her roots (Brazil), she is more Israeli than any first generation immigrant I have ever met! Professionally she has earned her way into positions that would make many fearless Israelis tremble. She writes wonderfully in a language that is not her mother tongue (English), and if anything her command of Hebrew is even more impressive than her English (I was floored at how perfect her Hebrew was on the one occasion we met). Like Lisa, Rinat is a single girl with a full life away from the computer. Her posts are usually packed with insights and opinions (I don't always agree with her, but I admire the strength of her convictions), but she blogs about her life... blogging isn't her life! No, her posts are not silly... nor is she writing to satisfy anyone's needs. It is unfair to expect her to deliver content to her blog on any sort of schedule. I update my journal 3 - 5 times a week because that is how often I used to play gigs when I was a professional trombonist in New York City. Writing on treppenwitz has replaced performing on trombone as my creative outlet. I'm not faithful to you... I'm faithful to myself. To call any blogger unfaithful for not writing frequently enough is like having a favorite author and calling him/her unfaithful for not publishing books as fast as you can read them. I have lost a lot of readers because they didn't like how long my posts are. I've lost others because I write too frequently and they feel pressured to keep up. Still others have wandered away because I'm not political enough. In short, the relationship between a blogger/journaler and the readers is one of fit rather than faithfulness. I'm flattered that you find me to be a good fit for your reading style/schedule... but please don't disparage a couple of talented writers just because they don't write as often as you'd like.

Posted by: David | Oct 19, 2005 9:17:34 PM

Thanks for the link. I'm soooooooo disappointed with the US response. Bush even met with Sharansky and read his book. How can he still not get it? He will use violent force to prevent terror and establish democracies everywhere EXCEPT for Palestinians. At this rate in two generations the entire world will be democratic except for a vicious dictatorship based in Gaza in which deposed Castro, Kim Jung Il and the entire Chinese Communist party will sunbathe and luxuriate. It would be funny except for that propping up tyranny there forces Israel to fight a war without end. There should not be restraint; there should be war. Restraint comes after Palestinians are alowed some basic freedoms. Peace comes after democracy. Sharansky is right.

Posted by: Doctor Bean | Oct 19, 2005 9:41:13 PM


I think that Bush has too many ties to oil and that is why he doesn't take it to the next step.


I agree that Israel would be well served to wean itself off of US aid, it would make a difference. But at the same time there is nothing lost in making more people aware of the flaws, faults and inadequacies of the Arab nations who helped to foment and propagate the hatred directed towards Israel and Jews.

Posted by: Jack | Oct 19, 2005 10:13:49 PM

Jack: That makes no sense. He is distancing the US from Saudi Arabia by (1) removing military bases and moving them to Iraq and (2) increasing State Dept rhetoric about the lack of religious and press freedom there. Saudi Arabia has the oil. Palestinians have no oil. Why would his "too many ties to oil" make him coddle Palestinians while taking an increasingly firm stand with the Saudis?

Posted by: Doctor Bean | Oct 19, 2005 10:35:07 PM


Perhaps if I had put the word spiritual in front of adultery. I just thought it was a given. See Ezekiel.


Well, I guess I can't sanction killing all enablers. After all that would be very bad advice as regards my country. Enablers we are but I suppose we are just as much advocates and allies. It's very disconcerting.

I know that if Mexico attacked us in a war and after we defeated them a group of Mexicans down on the Rio Grand in Texas began a program of suicice bombings against us .... we'd blast them to hell and drive the survivors deep into Mexico. We'd invade Mexico and wipe out any left over 'enablers' too. If the situation repeated itself three times we'd conquer Mexico, take over Mexico City and annex the nation as the 51st state.

But do we do unto Israel as we would have done unto us? No we torture Israel with Colin Powel and Condi Rice. It is a great evil and I expect my nation to be severly punished if not wrecked and smashed for our sins.

So no I was not wholly serious about Israel killing the enablers of terrorists. I would not add such reservations as regards Syria, Egypt, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Yemen, Sudan, etc. Or for that matter Turkey, Kurdistan (it's coming) or Indonesia.

Posted by: Scott | Oct 21, 2005 3:14:19 AM

>> Where are the people who promised me that if we >> would only get out of Gaza we would turn a corner >> and find a partner for peace waiting for us?

Please don't react to these terrible and tragic murders in the heat of anger. It is absolutely right, of course it is, that the people who committed and encouraged this callous act should be brought to justice, but at the end of the day these people are simply murderers, not the freedom-fighters or crusaders they pretend to be. Overreact, send in bulldozers and bombers, raise the bodycount and the levels of anger in Palestine, and you give these bloodthirsty killers a veneer of political significance they in no way deserve. The killers are cowards. They won't solve anything by doing this. They won't help anyone by doing this. They're irrelevant and they know it.

Peace will be achieved one day soon, among parties that realise their responsibility to future generations and think beyond their immediate impulse to anger. And Israel's innocent victims, along with innocent victims among its enemies, will be mourned by all except a few embittered hotheads.

It is tragic that for many that day will have come too late.

Posted by: Anonymous in the UK | Oct 22, 2005 5:44:35 PM

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