Words Kill, By Mirit Daron

Oct 31, 2013 Published under Introspection

This open letter was published on 10/29 in Yedioth Ahronot. The below is the translation from Hebrew.

Words Kill
By Mirit Danon, secretary to prime ministers Yitzhak Shamir, Yitzhak Rabin, Shimon Peres, Ehud Barak, and Ariel Sharon

Dear Minister Naftali Bennett,

I want to tell you a few personal words. Words written from my heart.

Let me introduce myself briefly: I was the personal secretary of five prime ministers. Almost half of the prime ministers in Israel since its establishment. For many years, I sat next door to the prime minister, and I saw a lot. Mostly, I heard.

In the months that preceded November 4, 1995, my ears heard the curses and the incitement on the telephone. Words like “traitor” and “SOB” which were directed at the man who was democratically elected to his term as prime minister. I was the one who received the envelopes filled with hateful materials intended for Yitzhak Rabin, sometimes with excrement and dirt.

And ten years later, in the months that preceded disengagement, I was also the person who sat in the same chair in the Prime Minister’s Bureau, next to the same desk and the same door, which led to the room of prime minister Ariel Sharon. And again I heard threats and saw hate mail, and I felt then, as I unfortunately do today, that I was at a rerun of the same movie.

In this context, I want to tell you, Honorable Minister Bennett: never forget that words have a power of their own. They aren’t just combinations of letters written down or enunciated. Sometimes they even kill. Words are always the start of a process. After them comes spitting, and after that…I don’t want to think about that.

Don’t forget that it all began with words back then, too. At first it was “din rodef,” [the law of the “persecutor,” according to which one who is persecuting a Jew with murderous intent may be killed extrajudicially—INT] and afterwards came the [picture of Rabin in] SS uniform , the coffin—and finally the three shots in the back of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin.

Once we could say: we didn’t know. We didn’t understand that things were liable to spin out of control; that one Yigal Amir would do something and leave a bleeding scar on all of us and all of Israeli society for almost two decades. It’s important that you know that there are no second chances. You cannot claim again: I didn’t know. Once was too much for all of us.

And I also want to tell you about a former employee in prime minister Sharon’s bureau, not particularly high-ranking, an upright man with a conscience. When the disengagement process got underway, with which he didn’t agree, he announced his resignation. He had a family, little children, and he certainly needed his salary, but his conscience was stronger. Although he wasn’t an elected official, he was not a minister in the Israeli cabinet, he was braver than you. If you do not agree with releasing terrorists as part of resuming the talks with the Palestinians—get up and resign. You consider yourself a brave man, a former combat soldier in an elite unit, a man with values and a conscience—then have courage and leave the government. Fight for what you believe in through democratic ways. Incitement is not one of them.

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