Fathers of Slain Israeli Soldier, Palestinian Abductor Try Conciliation
JERUSALEM (AP) _ The fathers of an Israeli soldier and his Palestinian kidnapper _ both killed in a failed rescue mission by Israeli commandos _ met this week to promote conciliation between Israelis and Palestinians.
Israeli Yehuda Waxman and Palestinian Yassin Bader said Thursday they would try to bring their peoples closer together and build a more tolerant society.
Waxman, an observant Jew, and Bader, a Muslim who has made the pilgrimage to Mecca twice, met Tuesday in an encounter arranged by the newspaper Jerusalem.
``I realized that this elderly man in front of me wished to live out his life in peace,″ said Waxman, father of 19-year-old Sgt. Nachshon Waxman, who was kidnapped by militants from the Islamic militant group Hamas in October 1994.
Waxman, who had U.S. and Israeli citizenship, was killed by his captors when commandos raided their hideout. Three kidnappers were killed, including 22-year-old Abdel Karim Bader. One was captured.
``I feel no hatred against him (Waxman),″ Yassin Bader told The Associated Press. ``He said, `Let us join hands and work together.′ ... I told him this is a good thing and I support it.″
Bader, 60, criticized his son for kidnapping Waxman and said he ``felt very sorry″ when he saw the videotape of the soldier appealing to the Israeli government to release imprisoned Hamas members to win his freedom.
``Such actions are unacceptable,″ said Bader as he sold cigarettes, sausages and candy from his tiny grocery stall just inside the gates of Jerusalem’s Old City.
Waxman, who is in his fifties, told Israel TV that he was nervous before the meeting.
``I had hesitations, but what would revenge give me?″ he asked. Waxman was later shown reciting Jewish prayers and examining the Koran with Yassin at his side.
Waxman said he agreed to the meeting _ which took place in a Jerusalem hotel room _ only after Bader wrote him a letter condemning his son’s actions.
``We have to make a better world,″ Waxman told Israel Radio. ``We have to teach our children and theirs that we are human beings.″