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An open letter to Tamar Fogel, by Denis MacEoin


This letter was written by Denis MacEoin to Tamar, the 12-year-old Israeli girl from Itamar who found the bodies of her family after they were murdered by terrorists back in March. (It was originally posted at Arutz Sheva and is being published at CiF Watch with the permission of the writer.)


Dear Tamar,

We have never met, nor are we likely to. I am not a Jew nor an Israeli, though for many years I have defended both Jews and Israelis from the physical and political attacks that are made on them. I live in England, though I’m Irish. The Irish used to be great enemies of the English, who did bad things to us, but who gave us their language, something in which we excel. But many years ago, long before you were born, the enmity between the Irish and the English faded. We are not the same people, but we no longer hate each other, and the English Queen will soon make her first visit to Ireland, in a gesture that the past is past, that we are now allies, not enemies.

The most important for you is to be sure that the only guilty parties were the terrorists who carried out the slaughter. And I need not tell you that these were not the first Palestinian terrorists to take out their hate, their resentment, and their jealousy on helpless Jews living on Jewish land.

I have watched you in two videos, the first time when Binyamin Netanyahu came to visit you and your grandparents, and I still remember the force with which you challenged him, such an important man and such a young girl. And after that your tears. It seemed to me then, and it seems to me now that the dead are at peace, and your two living brothers may grow up with less dark memories, but that you above all are old enough and aware enough to carry the most terrible memories through the rest of your life.

But I also saw a second video in which you spoke to a reporter from Israeli National Television, and here your tears gave way to a most articulate, awesomely mature, and moving assertion of your right to live in Samaria. I wish every Palestinian could watch that video with an Arabic voice-over. Perhaps there and then they might see that their fight against Israel is worthless, that you will never surrender, that you will not let yourselves be led to the slaughter as happened all those years ago.

Rabbi Chaim Potok once wrote that there are no more gentle Jews. He did not mean that Jews are no longer kind or good, but that they now know how to fight back. Kol Hakavod for every word you spoke.

You will grow up among strong people, and you will finally marry and have children of your own. That may seem far off to you, but to someone much older like myself, it will happen in no time at all. When that happens, and when your two brothers find wives and have children, there will soon be more Fogels than before. They cannot substitute for the dead, but they can stand up and speak for them down the long years to come. Your life, however much you may wish it otherwise, will be overshadowed by the terrible event that has fallen on you. You will ask questions and you may find answers.

After the Shoah, many rabbis tackled the question of hester panim, asking why HaShem had seemed to turn his face away from his people. I am not a Jew, and I cannot provide easy answers to those questions. You must seek your own answers from your rabbis and in your scriptures.

One answer may be found in a short sound recording that was made in Belsen shortly after its liberation by British forces. It was made by the BBC and contains at the end description of a Shabbat service held by a British rabbi, at the end of which the survivors stand and sing HaTikva. They are weak, they are out of tune, some of them will still die: but they are singing in open defiance of the very great Nazi evil that had overwhelmed them and their families. Three years after that, the state of Israel was established.

I’m writing, first because I’m a writer and that’s how I express my feelings best. But also because I want to convey just how many people’s thoughts are with you. You have your grandparents and aunts or uncles, and after that you have your small and concerned community of I’timar, but beyond that you have a world of people, Jews and non-Jews, who stand with you in your grief. We feel helpless, not knowing what we can or should do to help, yet longing to do so.

How many people can say they truly love the murderers who came to your house that night? Some may hand out candies and dance in the streets, but how meaningful is that? They love themselves and their own dreams of glory, but who can truly love men of blood, people who kill infants in their cradles?

For you the greatest problem of the next few years may be this: you are still a child and you deserve to be reading funny books and watching films and playing games and going to your youth club; but many will treat you as an adult before you are entirely ready for adult responsibilities. You do seem older than your years, but you should not be rushed into adulthood. I am sure your grandparents and others will understand this and will do their best to protect you from those who want to take your childhood away from you.

Enough of the advice! Everyone likes to give advice. You don’t have to listen to any of it, and advice isn’t really the reason I’ve written. You are in my thoughts and in the thoughts of millions of other people because the murder of your family has gone so deeply into so many people’s hearts. The list of atrocities carried out on Jews, not just in Israel but beyond, is very long. As a result, it’s easy to let them all blur together into one mass. But every so often one death or a group of deaths stands out and demands special attention.

One day there will be a memorial to the sacrifice your family made. People from far away may come to visit it. Photographs of it will appear in the press. But the true memorial will be you, an ordinary girl, with a torn heart and a wounded soul, going to school, going to shul, making friends, baking bread, sewing, cooking, reading, blushing when a certain young man comes to speak to you, going to Kever Yosef to marry him, giving birth to your first child.

I just mean to say that no-one expects from you heroic deeds, no-one wants you to have to shoulder resistance to all the evils you know better than most. It is your ordinary deeds, the day-to-day living of an ordinary life that are for the creators of horror the most painful thing of all, that Jews will continue to live on land sanctified by Jewish blood.

At the end of that recording made in Belsen, someone calls out ‘Am Yisrael Chai’. By living, the killers only bring eternal disgrace on themselves, their families, and everyone who shelters them. By living, you make clear to everyone that the People of Israel live, that their light will not be snuffed out, and that when your enemies have gone to dust and seen a darkness beyond measure engulf them, the light of the Jews will illuminate the nations. Grow and be happy and tell us what you see on your journey.

Denis MacEoin

19 replies »

  1. I wonder what the notorious CiF poster WilliamBapthorpe’s reaction was to these despicable murders.

    That moving recording from Bergen-Belsen in the original broadcast:

  2. Thank you for posting this.

    I don’t know if Denis MacEoin is reading these posts but from here in Israel, I would like to send my great appreciation and thanks for what she wrote. It brought tears to my eyes even though I’m a grandfather myself.
    I’m moved to the bottom of my heart when good people take the time to express their feelings and support to the victims and atrocities of heinous terrorists.

    I know that there are many good people out there ” the silent majority” who support Israel and the Jews and who know the truth about the history of the Jewish people.

    There is plenty of evil in our world but at the end good will triumph.

    All that is necessary for evil to triumph is that good men do nothing.

  3. I could scarcely read to the end because of my tears. What a beautiful, beautiful letter, written by a wonderful man to a remarkable girl.

  4. Denis is superb, understated and not a ranter.

    He is a wealth of information and a mine of knowledge about Islam.

    @pretzelberg, Bapthorpe would probably be slavering over the news coverage.

  5. I have asked Dennis Macoin to include my name on this letter he sending at Passover. What a great adovocator for Israel he is. Shame there are so few of his ilk.

  6. amazing
    we the jews suffer a lot
    until this time we stand in our little country we fight for freedom and to be free in our land yes our land
    all the evil people tell diffrent but do a little reading and know that in history ther are no palastinian they are jordanian rufuge
    the koran speak abou us in our land and in the koran
    there no sign for the word “jeruslam” chack!!!
    i want that the palastinan will have a country of ther own
    to live a side us
    but not with us
    i hope that day will come shortly and those of you
    are tell that holocost did not happen i really hoping you belive in god
    that when you pass away u will panish for your lie and go to
    the very deep black place that hitler and his friends are
    have fun u are lie only for yourself
    we know the true
    u make yourself know the truth

  7. מבקש להעביר את המכתב של דניס מק’יואן למייל הנ”ל
    bemran@aol.com בשפה האנגלית חשוב מאוד מדובר ביהודיה מאוסטין
    טקסס תומכת טרור פלשתיני. תודה

  8. I have never read a letter of condolence that was written with so much love and compassion. I have read it over and over many times. Each time I wept.

    That it came from a Gentile in another country to a Jew in Israel, makes it all the more remarkable.

    It is very unfortunate we dio not have people like Denis MacEoin to lead us here in Israel. He has the facts, the eloquence and I am sure the guts to stand up to all those who hate us and all those those who wish to destroy us. If someone will let me know how I can be in contact with this marvellous man, I would be very grateful. I would very much like to thank him personally for his support for Israel and his compassion for the Fogel family.

  9. For quite a long period of time I didn’t find any article with such a wisdom and kindness towards Jewish people and in particular to the 12-year-old Israeli girl from Itamar who’s tragedy demonstrated to the rest of the cruel world the lowest of evil and the height of G-ds Good.
    Thank you Mr. Denis MacEoin and G-d bless you and yours.

    • Toda Denis for such a beautiful letter. It is so nice to have people stand up and speak the truth. My people have gone through so much, and the hate just keeps on coming;…but then there are the rare few that always show kindness and love. Makes me realize that there are still a few good people out there who really know the truth. It’s sad that the rest of the world is so filled with hate and their minds are clouded in lies. If they would only take the time to research and find the answers. Shalom and Blessings to you.

  10. I am in awe.,having read your letter to the Archbishop and your heartrendering letter to Tamar. You are a most wonderful ,compastionate and beautaful person. Israel, surronded by hateful neighbors, is luck to have you as a spokesman. G-D bless you. Please chek out Save A Child Heart, Israel.Com. Here you will find the best rebutal to all those ridiculous aparthied accusations against Israel.No doubt, you with your brililant jounalistic talent would be the perfect one to editorialize and bring to the word’s attetion about this medical miracle in Holon ,Israel where to this date over 2700 children lives have been saved through open heart surgery by skilled Israel surgeons. I might add that it is free of charge and done on children from third world countries, including Gaza and theP.A.