Israeli families tell of Arab terrorism

March 03, 1993|By Frank P. L. Somerville | Frank P. L. Somerville,Staff Writer

Members of four Israeli families brought graphic accounts of fundamentalist Islamic terrorism to a Mount Washington synagogue last night in an attempt to counter American sympathy for the deported Palestinians.

Among them was Dov Kalmonovitzch, a 36-year-old accountant, whose face showed the grim effects of the serious burns he suffered when a Molotov cocktail was thrown at his car near Jerusalem in January 1988.

"I was the first wounded in the intifada," he said.

Mr. Kalmonovitzch said he escaped from the burning car because of his tank training when he was in the Israeli army.

Referring to the explosion Friday at New York's World Trade Center, he warned, "Terrorism started in Israel can also come to the States."

He and the other victims' family members spoke to an audience of about 60 people at Ner Tamid Congregation, 6214 Pimlico Road, which has a membership of 370 families.

Shala Shoshain spoke while holding her infant son. One year ago, she told the audience in low, measured tones, her husband, a farmer, was shot and killed by two Arabs near the Israeli port city of Ashqelon.

Of all the speakers, she was the most composed.

Saada Toledano said her son was kidnapped, hacked and killed by Hamas.

Members of this fundamentalist group are a majority of those deported by the Israelis in December.

Spokesmen for the Hamas movement have insisted that it is not a terrorist group, that it seeks to avoid shedding innocent blood, and that its attacks have been against military targets in the Israeli occupied territories.

But the United States said yesterday that it had ended all diplomatic contact with the group, which has opposed negotiations with Israel.

Lea Mendelsohn, a Holocaust survivor, said tearfully last night that her son, a computer engineer, was shot and killed with 28 bullets on his way home from work four days before Passover in 1991.

"He was a clever Jewish, a kind Jewish," she said, holding up photographs of him and his three young children. "Very good children, very clever children," she said.

Mrs. Mendelsohn continued, "They don't kill him because he is a soldier. They kill him because he is a Jewish man."

Raising her voice in a flash of anger, she said, "They do it for the pleasure of killing."

Then, more quietly, and through her tears, she said, "We have a message for America. I do not hate the Arabs. My message for the people of America is, terrorists will come here after they kill us."

Jacob Mendelsohn, her husband, struggling with his halting English, said, "The Hamas -- they think, 'I kill you not for being a man, I kill you for being a Jew.' "

Glancing at his son's photograph, and at members of his still-grieving family around him, Mr. Mendelsohn added, "They kill not one man. They kill whole family."

The Israeli speakers came to Baltimore from Washington, where some of them met with members of Congress yesterday.

Their visit here was sponsored in part by Americans for a Safe Israel.

The families were introduced by the Ner Tamid Congregation's rabbi, Chaim Landau, and by Lt. Col. Meir Indor, former head of the Israeli army's anti-terrorist division, who accompanied them from Israel. Colonel Indor, 45, now heads the Committee for Victims of Arab Terror.

Rabbi Landau said in his introduction, "Kuwait expels 400,000 Palestinians, but where are they? Yet when Israel expels 400, everyone knows where they are. These families tell heart-wrenching stories, yet Israel receives the negative."

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