At Suspected Killer's Home, a Visit to the Margin's Edge

At the murder suspect's home they say it's all the fault of the "Russian." At the home of the woman suspected in abetting the murders they say it's all because of the "Arab."

A 15-minute drive separates the two homes, one on the fringe of the Bedouin village of Wadi Hamam and the other on the outskirts of Tiberias. Two worlds seemingly distant from one another, but which in fact are one: the world of the excluded and inferior, the margin's edge.

A Bedouin and a Russian, both with difficult childhoods behind them. He walking with a leg brace, the result of a police chase - she on crutches, the result of a serious car accident. Our very own Bonnie and Clyde.

The Israeli flag flies above only one of the homes - in Wadi Hamam. Two flags in fact, just to be on the safe side. Both residences boast breathtaking Galilee vistas, as if the landscapes were trying to cover up the awful deeds committed within them.

The sentence "Nothing is stronger than love" is scrawled in Arabic on a concrete wall opposite the home of Adwan Farhan, described yesterday as "the worst serial killer in Israel's history."

But family members refuse to believe a word of it. They show off IDF certificates of recognition granted to a nephew, and offer the suspect's late father's status as a disabled army veteran as proof of his own innocence.

"We're Israelis," they repeat again and again, alternating that mantra with accounts of their youngest boy's difficult childhood, orphaned from his father and spoiled by his mother. All of this in an effort to push away the horror of the allegations.

Ziad, the elder brother, smothers any attempt by another brother and sister to get a word in. "We don't have to rush to point a finger," he says, naming a series of Israeli murder suspects who were later exonerated.

"It's my brother, it pains me," he whispers. He hasn't seen his younger brother for several years, he says, then thinks better of it and claims he saw him on Adwan's last prison furlough - maybe a year or two ago. He came to this very home with his wife and kids, had lunch in the company of the wardens and was rushed back to prison.

"Do you see how calm he is? Does he have anything in his eyes? Is he a serial killer?" Ziad asks, his eyes fixed on the television. When the commentator says Adwan had once tried to poison one of his sisters, the family members become agitated. But their agitation turns to unadulterated rage when talk turns to the "Russian."

"I was angry about his relationship with that Russian, may God burn her alive. She brought about our end," Ziad says.

In Tiberias' Dalet neighborhood, renovations have just been completed on these low-income apartment complexes. Baruch Ben Zaken painted the door for the Belarusian family on the second floor.

Though she paid him in cash for the job, he doesn't like Y. anymore. Not since she started going out with the Arab. The sin of dating an Arab is greater here than of dating a serial killer.

Three months ago, he says, Y. threatened to kill her daughter, and neighbors had to call Welfare Services, which took the girl away.

Y.'s own mother keeps her door closed, she's already had enough journalists banging on it today. In any case, they only come to the margin's edge when something terrible happens.