One Woman's Revenge Against a Terrorist
April 4 -- Twelve years after a Palestinian militant tried to kill her father on the streets of Jerusalem, Laura Blumenfeld went searching for her dad's would-be murderer.
"Someone tried to kill my father and I couldn't just accept that," says Blumenfeld, a Washington Post reporter and author of the new book, Revenge: A Story of Hope.
"My parents raised me to believe that the world was a beautiful place," she says. But her assumptions were shattered when her father was shot while walking through a marketplace in Jerusalem's Old City.
So she set out on an odyssey of anger and revenge, in search of a terrorist whom she wanted to confront.
"Was I a hero or a fool?" she says. "I think that's really for everybody to decide."
Finding Her Target
Blumenfeld's mission was born of the violent events that were a precursor to the suicide bombers of today. In the winter of 1986, a Palestinian death gang backed by Syria randomly targeted tourists in Jerusalem. A young Christian pilgrim was shot dead at point-blank range. A German tourist was wounded by a bullet that lodged near her spine. An Israeli woman was gunned down in her office. And Laura's father, David Blumenfeld, a tourist from Glen Cove, N.Y., narrowly escaped death when a bullet grazed his head.
Laura Blumenfeld became obsessed with finding out who had fired the bullet that barely missed her father's brain. "Who was the person, and was there anything I could do about it? How could I respond?" she wanted to know.
In 1998, Blumenfeld took a leave of absence from The Washington Post and moved to Israel with her husband. Then, she started to research the gang that was responsible. Clippings and documents from the prosuectors' office in Jerusalem eventually led her to the Khatib family in a West Bank town called Kalandia.
"They were a well known PLPF family, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, who right now are some of the people, you know, strapping on dynamite and walking into Saturday night pizza parties filled with Israeli teenagers," says Blumenfeld.
Using her broken Arabic and some English, she introduced herself simply as Laura, a journalist from America. The family welcomed her into their home, serving her coffee and orange soda. Trying to reveal no emotion, she began asking questions. She learned that the youngest Khatib son, Omar, had been imprisoned for militant activities when he was 23. After more prodding, Blumenfeld found out that Omar had indeed tried to kill someone.
There was a 12-year-old nephew sitting on the couch, she remembers, and when she asked who Omar had tried to kill, he said, "Some Jew.'"
Blumenfeld had found her target, but she still professed to be a disinterested journalist and continued taking notes.
When the family recalled the incident of Omar shooting a Jewish man, says Blumenfeld, "Everybody was laughing." Then, she says, the Khatib mother "reached over and kind of like slapped my knee, like this was a real knee-slapping moment."
The family supported Omar and were proud of him. "It's what we have to do. No justice comes from the Jews," Blumenfeld remembers Omar's brother Saeed saying. "We make our own justice until we reclaim all of Palestine."
Blumenfeld couldn't believe it. "I was sitting in the living room with the family of the man who tried to kill my father, drinking orange soda and eating cake, and they talked about it in such a casual way," says Blumenfeld.