The Human Spirit: Remembering Angelo Frammartino
In these days of agonizing news, the world often seems upside down. Take, for example, the reappearance of terrorism in Jerusalem in the form of the tragic murder of Angelo Frammartino, an Italian tourist in Jerusalem.
Lazio regional government president Piero Marrazzo said that a "messenger of peace" had been killed. Italian House Speaker Fausto Bertinotti, the former head of the PRC, also wrote a letter of condolence to Frammartino's family, in which he stated that "Angelo lost his life while he fought for the cause of peace, dialogue, cooperation and non-violence."
The town of Monterotondo said the day of Angelo's funeral will be a day of civic mourning for its "hero of peace." PRC Senate Whip Giovanni Russo Spena spoke of the "tragic paradox of the global war" that a Palestinian, "a child of the people he loved most," killed Frammartino.
Just to be clear, the 24-year old law student from Monterotondo, a town outside Rome, was walking with friends on a clear summer night in Jerusalem. In an act of familiar terrorism, near Herod's Gate of the Old City, an assailant brutally stabbed him three times, twice in the back and once in the neck. Even the experienced doctors and medics of Magen David Adom couldn't keep him alive.
Frammartino had come to Israel to work in Palestinian summer camps, a program which Monterotondo Mayor Antonio Lupi lauded as fostering "culture, cooperation and tolerance."
And when a group called "Palestinian civil society organizations" condemned the murder, that sounded promising. So I looked up their statement on the Internet.
"We, representatives of Palestinian civil society, express our utmost grief and condemnation with regard to this horrible crime; and demand that the pertinent authority opens an immediate investigation to find the perpetrator and establish the circumstances around the incident."
They imply that ultimately the murder is Israel's fault. The reasoning? "The killing of the Italian peace activist comes during a difficult period of grave violations and massacres against Palestinian and Lebanese civilians, especially children, through Israel's ongoing military offensive in the Gaza Strip since 29 June 2006 and Lebanon, since 12 July 2006."
Frammartino's murder also comes at a time of "grave human rights violations committed by the Israeli Occupation," says the cluster of organizations that send their condolences.
I SEND my condolences, too. From the newspaper descriptions Frammartino sounds like an exceptional young man. Just giving up a beach holiday to work in no-frills conditions in the Middle East sets him apart from the vast majority of young people in the world. And I am saddened that another young person has joined the ranks of victims of terror in our country.
It's easy enough to be fooled by the romanticizing of the Palestinian cause or, for that matter, the Lebanese, and as a result to experience cognitive dissonance at the extent of radical Muslim violence. So how can we fault Frammartino for being duped into allying himself with a people who, whenever polled, espouse violence?
Just listen to our own political commentators continually referring to Lebanon in the most pastoral terms. I'm puzzled by hearing idyllic effusions over our neighbors to the North, who have been "kidnapped" by a foreign element. I had to stop a lecturer the other day to make clear to the room of foreigners who didn't understand that the Hizbullah were genuine Lebanese: They may be trained in killing by the Iranians and armed by the Iranians, and bolstered by the Syrians, but they're Lebanese.
I subsequently asked two top commentators just how popular Hizbullah was in the last elections. Both grossly underestimated their numbers. Once again, I checked on the Internet.
Hizbullah isn't a radical fringe. It's the second-largest party in Lebanon, holding 35 of the 132 seats in the government. The largest party, Future Tide, has 72 of the 132 votes. In the same way that "refugee camps" are made to seem an extraterritorial encampment instead of Palestinian cities, we pretend that the Hizbullah aren't authentic Lebanese.
Check the polls. Hizbullah are the popular heroes of that country, and not a bunch of hijackers. Candies were passed around in Beirut when Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev were successfully kidnapped from Israeli soil.
One of our own Israeli pundits had the audacity to compare Shi'ites to Lubavitcher hassidim because of their messianism.
ALL THIS would be overwhelming if I hadn't recently experienced a particularly inspiring moment.
Last Wednesday I was on Second Aliyah Street in Haifa with two buses of American Hadassah women on a solidarity mission. These women had demanded to visit and sleep in that beleaguered city in spite of the personal danger.
The siren went off. The tour guide directed us to a public shelter. Inside were Russian immigrants who had moved their mattresses to the shelter because their tenement housing had inadequate protection. Hardly anyone spoke Hebrew, and no one spoke the other party's language.
But they soon sized each other up. The Russian immigrants, grandparents, parents and children, shared the little they had - space on their mattresses. Patting the mattresses and scooting to the side, they urged the Americans to sit down. In quiet companionship they sat out the 15 minutes they had to remain in the shelter. It was a splendid expression of Am Yisrael Hai.
I have a suggestion to honor the memory of Angelo Frammartino.
The Kobi Mandel Foundation, named for a 13-year-old who, like the young Italian, was brutally murdered by Palestinian terrorists, provides therapeutic camping experiences for terror survivors or the families of those murdered by terrorists. Kobi Mandel's grieving parents, Seth and Sherrie, set up a sleepaway camp to heal the hearts of children. There's a scaled giving program, from buying a hat and a T-shirt to supporting a physically-challenged child. It's non-political, hosts Jews and non-Jews, and works on building character.
Frammartino's family, friends and the city of Monterotondo might want to support this camp that works to mitigate the evil brought by those who duped and killed their son. To start this off, I'm sending in a check to the camp today.