Ynet is publishing a letter from the son of a Qassem rocket fatality, 12 year old Hanan Yaakobov to Ehud Olmert. Hanan’s father Yaakov was killed last week after a Qassam hit the factory where he worked. It is very troubling to see the adults around this child using him to make their point, whether it is right or wrong.

“Mr. Prime Minister, today we have joined our fellow youths from Sderot who have been marching towards Jerusalem in protest for several days. We come to Jerusalem today to tell you one thing: Your government has failed, you have failed, you need to take responsibility and go home.

“For six years now living in Sderot is not truly living, we have no security, no quiet, and we feel as though you don’t care at all. My father, may he rest in peace, wouldn’t even let us take down the garbage because he was scared for us. In the past month alone over 300 Qassams have fallen here and that hasn’t made you or your government do anything.

“Our family emigrated from Russia 12 years ago. I can assure you that this could never happen there. There the government would not allow an entire town to be turned into cannon fodder for so long a period. But you don’t care, you continue to employ policies of fear and weakness on the backs of Sderot’s residents and agree to a ceasefire on the Arab’s conditions. And even now that there is a ceasefire the Qassams continue and we continue to live in fear.”

“Our family could simply leave Sderot and move elsewhere, somewhere quiet and safer but then what? After we left Gush Katif we will leave Sderot and then leave Ashkelon and where will we end up then? We feel it is our duty to stay in the town and we will remain strong but you must go home because you have failed and you have no solution. Mr. Prime Minister – you failed when you couldn’t protect my father. Resign.”

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  • Regardless of whether he had a ghostwriter, everything in this letter is true. If Olmert won’t listen to adults, maybe he’ll listen to a kid. He needs to go.

    The kid’s right, too. The Russians wouldn’t take this shit lying down like Israel is doing. Gaza would be a smoking crater by now.

  • Russia ain’t Israel.

    Even if it is true, it’s shameful to use the child of a recently killed man to send a political message to Olmert. There were Qassem attacks under Sharon as well, and I doubt he would have received such a letter.

  • yeah the rockets would have rained down under Sharon . . . But, we would have shown them that we are not wimps, and we will certainatley not back down.

    at the moment, olmert is backing off on everything, and the arabs are taking to much.

    if it was any other country there would be a war against them.

    Israels problem is that it thinks too much of what everyone else thinks.

  • Why is there the assumption that the child did not write the letter? Why do people think that he is just a political tool? He is one year shy of becoming an adult, according to our tradition. Kids can have opinions too…


  • TM wrote “Even if it is true, it’s shameful to use the child of a recently killed man to send a political message to Olmert.”

    No. What’s shameful is that a town in Israel is allowed to have rockets constantly rain down upon it. It’s funny because “Middle Israel” (no pun intended) doesn’t really think about Sderot every day. Israelis will tell their friends and acquaintances overseas that Israel is not as it is portrayed on the TV – in a constant state of war and continuously subject to terrorist attack. But that’s not true, especially for the residents of Sderot. But since Sderot is not a major tourist stop, it seems as if no one cares. Life goes on and the Kassams keep falling. That is what is really unnacceptable.

    Haanan Yaakobov’s letter does not just represent his plight, but that of all the residents of Sderot. The letter’s provenance is irrelevant – the desperation behind it’s production however is absolutely relevant. It is not shameful for desperate people to let others know of the level of their desperation.

  • Come on ck, nobody is suggesting that Sderot should be ignored, or that their situation isn’t extremely difficult, or even that this letter is wrong. To remind you, I wrote posts about how Olmert should resign from his position.

    This is about taking a child and making him a tool for delivering a message. That alone would be bad enough but to do it right after his father is killed is unacceptable. Adults in this situation have difficulty knowing how to behave and how to confront their loss, so how is a child going to know what is right or wrong and how he should act?

    Leave the child and his family alone. Let them grieve, or let them shout at the politicians. Just don’t use the child to send the message.

    Rakdannit: you may be right and he may have penned it himself. In that case, he has an impressive and precocious intellect. Realistically, though, the odds are that he did not write this letter.

  • Well, TM, you’re being presumptuous. You are assuming that he didn’t write the letter, or that he had little or nothing to do with its production and that he’s some kind of imbecile, mindlessly allowing others to make political gains from his and his family’s loss. Those are a lot of presumptions. Do you think the kid disagrees? Do you think a 12 yearr old’s name could be appended to a letter without his and his Mother’s approval? In any case, these are all very banal points. The salient issue here concerns the fate of the residents of Sderot. Why is a child welfare issue premised on a bunch of baseless assumptions taking precedence??

  • The IDF has been in Gaza since Gilad got captured. Hundreds of Palestinians have died. I think this ceasefire is the best that Ehud can get. Force has already been proven not to work. The only other option is to move the town further away from Gaza or develop anti qassam weapons.

  • ck, get real about the letter. He didn’t write it.

    His mother may have signed off on it, but so what? If she had wanted to put a letter out there, it would have received the same media attention. Also, is she not bereaved right now? Did she not lose her husband?

    Nobody here called the boy an imbecile or anything disparaging. Don’t play games.

    Whether he agrees with the letter or not is irrelevant. First of all, he’s a child. He can be a genius and he’s still a child. There’s a reason they are called minors and cannot vote or serve in the army or drink alcohol legally. Second, he is a bereaved child who has just lost his father to a rocket attack, what kind of frame of mind do you expect him to be in?

    Finally, if the salient issue is the fate of the residents of Sderot, you can write posts about them. All the posts you want. All day, every day. This was my post and it is about the unfortunate and callous misuse of a bereaved child to make a political point.

  • Lament, force was working and would have continued to work. The force they were using was also limited and his choice was to go for the cease fire rather than expand the offensive. You should also note that well over half of the Palestinians killed were terrorists and militants.

  • “Honestly, and I mean no disrespect”, but TM, if you have proof that the child did not write the letter, then please provide it, or if you have proof that others put him up to it, please provide it as well.

    I’ve read many a letters penned by teenagers after their parents were wrongfully killed, including children of 9-11 casualties, and I didn’t see anyone rushing to disparage their parents or any politicians for “putting them up to it.”

    Perhaps what bothers people isn’t who wrote it, but that the message is true and that you don’t have to be any older than a teenager nor a genius to know this.

    What bothers me, is that no action has been taken yet by the feeble government, which necessitates a teenager who has lost a father because of this to point out the obvious.

  • It’s a shame that Jews in Russia have more faith that their anti-semitic and corrupt government would take the necessary steps to protect them from Arab attacks, than a Jewish government in the only Jewish state.

    Israel – A Haven for all Jews (except in Sderot, and all of Gaza)

  • No, Lament, what hasn’t worked is half-assed force. Real force would probably work very well, but Olmert doesn’t have the balls to do what needs to be done, which is simply to kick ass and take names. As you say, “anti-Qassem weapons”. The best anti-Qassem weapons would be for Olmert to grow a pair and just get out of the IDF’s way. They would have Hamas begging for mercy in a week.

    And I can’t believe that you can honestly suggest that what Israel really needs to do is start moving whole towns just because they are being attacked. Do you realize the implications of what you are saying? I mean, seriously: are you out of your friggin’ mind?

  • המשפחה שלנו עלתה מרוסיה לפני 12 שנים. אני יכול להבטיח לך ששם ×–×” לא ×”×™×” קורה, שם הממשלה לא הייתה מסכימה שעיר שלמה תהפוך לבשר תותחים במשך תקופה כל כך ארוכה. אבל לך ×–×” לא אכפת, אתה ממשיך במדיניות של פחד וחולשה על גבי תושבי שדרות ומסכים להפסקת אש לפי התנאים של הערבים

    He didn’t write that. Why don’t you do a survey of how many 12 year olds know enough to comment on how Russia would behave under certain circumstances and how many know the expression “cannon fodder” and what it means. Then check and get back to me on how many understand what a “government policy” is.

    Face it, he’s being used as a tool. It’s not okay, folks. There are plenty of other ways to express anger toward politicians and in fact, many Sderot residents are doing so already.

    And for the last time, I didn’t say I disagree with the contents of the letter. That is beside the point.

  • Well, both my nieces were raised with a firm understanding of where they came from and why their parents left (the FSU). My family also considers history as vital to a child’s education, so I’m sure if you asked me at 10 years old, or my nieces at 13 and 16:

    “How did/do the Russians treat Chechens, Afghanistanis, or seperatist groups, etc.?”

    You would get a pretty colorful and cynical answer. Also remember, children in the FSU were learning calculus by the time we here in the states even heard of it. Who knows, maybe this 12 year old is just a brilliant writer, even though I didn’t think the letter was written that well, or at least the translation of it.

    Frank Zappa was writing Orchestral music by age 16, there’s a girl in the Guiness Book of World Records for being teh world’s most prolific writer of children’s stories by age 10, why is it so hard to believe that a child could have penned this himself, unless, you have some suspicion of his “masters”?

  • 12 is the 7th grade, give or take, you assessment is questionable…

    Think about what you knew in the 7th grade. I was in precalc, we read the NYTimes every day in class, debated politics, wrote essays on world events, and this was in mid 80’s, when we still kept out fallout shelter stocked.

  • ok I looked on the map to confirm something that I have wondered for a while, anyone want to chime ir or berate me, go ahead…

    Israel = NJ (size wise)
    Gaza = 360 sqr km, so about 25 x 14 roughly.

    the rockets are coming from an area about the size of my backyard.

    IDF has every modern and ancient weapon at it’s disposal.


  • I understand TM’s skepticism – but in this case it’s a little overboard. It’s true these letters reek of manipulation whether or not they’re completely valid. It’s not as wrong as anti-semitism in France letter that Israel Habara posted and Phoebe wrote about in Jewlicious…


    (Which I refuted when the letter showed up some time earlier in my inbox and which Hasbara finally caught onto and pulled.)

    This isn’t one of those letters. The kid might have had some help, he may have been influenced by Likudniks or he may just be that much more militant because of his father. In any case, compare the way the letter was written to what actually comes out of the boy’s mouth and then make a decision…


    Specifically the part supposedly with a reporter:

    “When the reporter asked him why he wanted to stay, the orphaned child with moonbeam eyes replied, “I love Sderot very much, and I won’t leave it because I love the State of Israel. If I leave Sderot, if all of Sderot were evacuated, then the country would fall apart. The Palestinians will see that they are succeeding in Sderot, and then they’ll shoot Kassams at Ashkelon and Ashdod too, and do the same in the whole country until nothing is left.””

    If this is report is accurate, I’d have too say the kid’s pretty articulate. And those words were much more emotional, effective and honest than the forced formality of the letter. I will say this: Giving the letter to Olmert makes total sense. But using kids – especially newly-grieving kids – to make a public point publicly could reek a little of Palestinian tactics (re: staged newscasts of little girl in Gaza bombing). It seems to me that of all international press accounts of the Israeli-Palestinian crises, the two things that garner more sympathy for Israel’s plight are homicide bombings and the siege of Sderot. IMHO it’s important to use publicity weapons that don’t run the risk of smelling funny. Rip me a new one for that comment. I can take it.

  • While the exploitation of a 12-year-old child’s grief in service of a narrow political agenda is ludicrous enough, what gives this letter its truly distinctive quality is how laughably crude and transparent it is. Ramon Marcos has it right; you want to use the death of the kid’s father to make a political point, fine, just report what he said. But that obviously was a little too subtle for whoever was directing this effort – his mommy, perhaps – so they thought it would help their cause to make the kid’s letter as contrived and tendentious as possible. His father is dead, and the main concern of the 12-year-old son is that the government has entered into a strategically tenuous ceasefire, with inadequately verifiable mutual deterrents. Oh, and what’s more, according to the Post article by the comically execrable Caroline Glick, the 12-year-old also said, “The defense minister and Olmert should admit that they can’t do this, and vacate their places in the government to Bibi Netanyahu and to [Avigdor] Lieberman.” But of course; the main concern of a 12-year-old with a dead father is turning the reins of power over to human oil slick Netanyahu and Israeli apartheid architect Lieberman. Who is this kid, the new incarnation of Henry Kissinger? God willing, humanity is only afflicted with one of those once a millennium or so.

    Perhaps Olmert could draft a response:

    Dear Hanan:

    Yes, your the loss of your father is terrible. And though I also realize that you are surrounded by fanatics who would like to exploit your personal loss to advance their political objectives, I’m afraid the points raised in your letter are without merit. This could never have taken place in the macho paradise of Russia? While you are, of course, free to return there, you may want to consult with some of the Russians caught up in the various brutal and stupid military expeditions taking place in Chechnya, and other similar locales. Sorry, but the government of Israel finds itself in a state of conflict with its neighbors, as it has been since the day of its independence some 58 years ago or so. I’m sure you father was a very nice man, but we’ve decided not to declare total war against the Arabs, even though those exploiting you personal loss would like us to do so. Nor, for that matter, do we have any intention of turning the government of the State of Israel over to a proto-fascist like Lieberman or a greasy sack of dogshit like Bibi, so they can betray everything real Zionists like Yitzhak Rabin spent their lives fighting for over the
    the past century.

    Here’s hoping you can escape from whatever maniacal fanatics would like to turn the death of your father into “canon fodder” for use in their personal campaign against the duly elected government of the State of Israel.

  • “…to make a public point publicly…”

    Did I actually write that? Who the heck is editing and proofing me? Oh, right – it’s me. Crap. Thanks to all for pretending not to notice…

  • You know, I didn’t for a second stop to contemplate the politics behind the boy’s letter. I just took offense to the notion that a 12 year old and what’s left of his family was prima facie incapable of doing what this boy did absent some manipulation. Perhaps I recalled my own precocious childhood and how by the age of 12 I had a well developped disdain for right wing politics, one that remains with me to this day.

    But now I realize that the kid’s letter was in fact supporting a right wing agenda. That changes everything! Clearly he and his family were manipulated, as no thinking person could possibly support Netanyahu and Lieberman. All right wingers are evil and loathsome and all left wingers are good and pure. Whew… glad I caught that embarassing gaffe!

  • Damn good analysis, ck! No reason to overcome things; sometimes a cigar is, indeed, just a cigar.

  • ck, more and more I see this as less about the manipulation of a child. In fact I’m kind of in awe the guy. It’s obvious his age doesn’t preclude him from being an articulate spokesman. His politics seem realized enough without adult prodding. More of his statement to the reporter:

    “I, Yaacobov’s son, am turning to you. Resign your positions! Resign. The defense minister and Olmert should admit that they can’t do this, and vacate their places in the government to Bibi Netanyahu and to [Avigdor] Lieberman. If they can [defend us] I want to see their answer. If not, they should vacate their seats, quickly.”

    Like you, ck, I remember when kids that age were politically aware. We cared about who and what was running the show. Especially in Israel kids that age should and need to understand the politics that so directly affect them. Living in Sderot may itself have led him to Likud. So it’s not Likudniks manipulating this bereaved kid but an articulate and angry bereaved young man manipulating the emotions of the voting-age public for a political agenda. The question is if one finds using personal tragedy to endorse not an agenda but specific politicians or political parties an admirable or even necessary tactic. For me it’s a fine line. For example, if the letter didn’t end with the one-sentence word “Resign.” it may have felt differently. Or if the kid didn’t specifically call for Netanyahu and Lieberman to replace Olmert rather than simply demand Olmert protect Sderot or get out (making the message less partisan), it may have been stronger.

    I don’t know if it’s right or wrong. May be more a matter of taste. But it’s not a right-wing/left-wing thing. I may agree with Cindy Sheehan’s opposition to the Iraq war and Bush, but the way she used the death of her son and turned her protest into a three-ring circus was just crass. On the other hand, here we have a well-respected and very liberal state congresswoman who lost a son in the war, yet she went out of her way to not use this in defending her anti-war position. In the same way, the situation in Sderot speaks enough for itself without needing to manipulate emotions.

  • Agreement with Sheehan? Isn’t she the one that made a few comments about the Jews? Don’t get me wrong, as I’m not fond of Bush, but I don’t think I want to be put in league with a woman who has some rants to her own name.

    When I was twelve, I had some ideas of my own and some of them remain true, despite adults trying to convince me otherwise. I’m not xtian, for one. I was a pretty quiet kid and never did much in the rebellion department, but even I had thoughts that stuck around. I know my students have opinions and I would never call it exploiting to let them write their opinions down.

    Some of my students have had parents go to Iraq. If one of them asked me to mail a letter to the president, I’d do it. It wouldn’t make it exploiting, but simply enabling the child to express the feelings already felt.

    Your language shows a bias and many are forgetting that we all have opinions. I can try as much as I like, but I’m never going to convince the two year old I am watching tomorrow night that lima beans taste good. Then again, I agree with him. They don’t.

    We have our opinions, some of which will change over the years (regardless of age) and others that will remain constant. This boy may have gotten more attention for being a kid, but at least someone listened to him, as that is probably what he needed most during a difficult time.

  • Netanya – my language is the opposite of showing a bias. I have no love for Cindy Sheehan. In fact, her manner of protest disgusted me. Please explain to me and all who comment here where you have decided my so-called bias lies.

  • The bias comment wasn’t too you. I should have been specific on who I was speaking to on that one. Sorry.

  • Netanya – no problem. And you are, by all accounts, right about Sheehan blaming Israel for her son’s death. The woman used her son as a soapbox and it’s apparent she is way out of her league intellectually. The only thing I agree with her on is that the war was a mistake and criminal if not stupid.

    But then again a number of Republicans also agree with that. As a spokesperson against the war she does nothing than embarrass the rest of us. I guess that’s what I see as the danger of using one’s personal tragedy to promote a political agenda. I would never place this kid in the same ignorant light as Sheehan. Unlike her, he was actually living under the missiles.

  • …. as long as we’re denouncing media manipulation:

    Inspectors catch Palestinians cutting olive trees

    Cutting trees and blaming the settlers?

    Inspector caught Palestinian youths in the act as they were cutting olive trees, claiming they did it at the request of the owner of the grove. The police suspect that he did it for compensation. Now additional Palestinian complaints will be investigated.

    Originally published by the Ma’ariv daily website and translated by IMRA:

    Tal Yamin-Walbowitz Maariv website (Maariv NRG) 22 November 2006 [Translation by IMRA]

    Are the settlers hurting the Palestinians or are the Palestinians hurting themselves?

    Frequently Palestinians farmers complain that settlers cut their trees and hurt them and their livelihoods. At times even IDF soldiers and police had to protect the Palestinians farmers in the territories during the olive harvest season. But the police suspect now that in some cases the Palestinians themselves are those cutting the trees and then blamed the settlers and demanded compensation from the Civil Authority.

    Foresters of the JNF patrolling the Shaar Efraim area today noticed to their surprise a number of Palestinians cutting olive trees in violation of the law as they were damaging scores of olive trees. The foresters hurried to call the police who arrived and held four of them for questioning.

    The four were transferred to the police station in Kedumim and in their interrogation they said that the owner of the property invited them to cut the trees for firewood. A police spokesman for the Judea-Samaria District, Superintendent Pintzi Mor, told Maariv NRG that the owner of the area would be called in for questioning.

    Sources in the police said that over the years the police have experienced a phenomenon of the filing of complaints to the Civil Authority regarding the destruction of olive trees, along with a claim for financial compensation. In the last year alone the Palestinians in the area of Judea and Samaria filed claims for 350 thousand shekels for the destruction of olive trees.

    The police now intend to check the complaints in detail. A senior source in the police told Maariv NRG that “most of the complaints for damage to olive trees were filed in recent years at the end of the harvest season or towards the end, something that increase the suspicion that this is a cooked deal.”

  • What?

    You mean the Arabs lie about Jews cutting down their precious olive trees so they can extort money from Israel?

    I’m shocked, shocked at such a racist accusation! How dare you blame the victims!