Daughter of Slain Peace Activist Grunzweig: Israel Imposes Terror on Its Citizens

Thirty years after the murder of her father at a peace rally, Niva Grunzweig says the state should recognize its responsibility for the murder, and take steps to repair it.

The daughter of a left-wing activist killed 30 years ago said Sunday that Israel still "imposes terror on its citizens in various violent ways."

About 100 Peace Now members gathered in front of the Prime Minister's Office Sunday to mark the 30th anniversary of the murder of Emil Grunzweig, who was killed when a right-wing protester threw a grenade at a peace demonstration.

In a speech, Grunzweig's daughter Niva, 34, accused Israeli governments over the years, not just Yona Avrushmi, the man who threw the grenade, over the death of her father.

"As far as the State of Israel is concerned, the only one guilty of my father's murder is Yona Avrushmi," Grunzweig said. "But that's only a half-truth that's meant to cover up the truth. The truth is that the State of Israel is guilty of my father's murder in various ways, and until it recognizes its responsibility for the murder and acts to repair it, justice has not been done."

According to Grunzweig, "the state devoted resources to find the person who tossed the grenade, but did nothing about those who supported this murderer. On the contrary, although those supporters were known to the public and the government, no steps were taken against them."

She said no law had been passed against incitement to violence and no significant changes had been made to school curricula. The public discourse did not condemn those supporters, she said.

"The state didn't really try to find out how a person was murdered because he expressed an opinion on the left of the political map, because he demonstrated against [the state] and its conduct," she said.

"As a child, I thought my father's murder was related to me. Maybe I had done something bad and deserved it. When I grew up I was angry at him – why did he have to attend that demonstration? Why didn't he stay home? Why didn't he fulfill his obligation to me, the obligation to live and be my father?" she added.

"For years I've realized that it's neither me nor him. It happened to us, but it's not our fault. But it's not fate's fault either. The pain is tremendous, but it wasn't inevitable or necessary. Murder and killing can be prevented. And political murder can be prevented. The state is responsible for ensuring the safety of its citizens and residents."

Grunzweig pointed a finger at the state, where she said violence is a dominant element. "It's both a personal and a public accusation, just as my father's murder was both personal and political. I grieve the loss of my father but also the fact that as a citizen of the state I'm exposed to violence daily," she said.

"My father's murder is an example of this violence, which is etched forever on my body and in my memory. The State of Israel imposes terror on its citizens in various violent ways so that we citizens who are critical of the government will give up the struggle for a saner life – a life where a person can go out to demonstrate on the street without fear of being murdered."

Grunzweig added that  Israel can be a sane and livable place if it recognizes its responsibility for daily violence, hatred and racism. "Recognizing the responsibility of the state is an act of apologizing. I want to imagine a moment when Israel's leader admits that the state engages in various types of violence against its citizens and apologizes to them," she said.

"Then we can start again and replace the violence with a desire to create a good atmosphere for all the citizens and noncitizens living in this country. I want to raise my children in such a country, because in such a country I'm not afraid that they'll grow up orphans."

The Peace Now activists also said the murder had been forgotten deliberately. Naftali Raz, who organized the demonstration in Jerusalem where Grunzweig was killed, said that in a conversation at the Prime Minister's Office none of the security guards had heard of Emil Grunzweig or Avrushmi.

According to Peace Now leader Yariv Oppenheimer, "what would have happened had the situation been reversed, God forbid, and a left-wing activist had murdered a right-wing activist at a demonstration? Today there wouldn't be a school in the country that didn't begin the day with a lesson on democracy."

On Sunday, Oppenheimer read out a letter from President Shimon Peres. "The echoes of the despicable murder of Emil Grunzweig by a member of his own people during a peaceful demonstration in the center of Jerusalem have not died down after three decades," wrote Peres.

"They once again remind us all where unbridled incitement, jealousy and intolerance of other opinions and viewpoints lead. His murderer sought to strike at the soul of Israeli democracy, and there is no atonement for his deed."

Olivier Fitoussi