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Plaintive E-Mail Outrages Israel

June 5, 2001

JERUSALEM — All Amos Sahar had to say was "I'm scared — I'm leaving" to clog an Israeli website and revive an old debate.

Sahar posted a letter explaining why his apartment is for sale on YNet, a website that provides news 24 hours a day, after a Palestinian suicide bomber blew himself up and killed 20 other people at a Tel Aviv disco on Friday night.

He said he was leaving Israel after eight months of a Palestinian uprising against Israeli occupation.

"The attack at the Dolphinarium left me broken," Sahar wrote on the site.

The letter caused an uproar, and more than 500 responses — for and against Sahar — quickly flooded the site.

Israel's largest daily newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth, which owns the website, also published Sahar's comments on Tuesday along with two pages of commentary.

"We ... are scared. We have had enough of the fact that every time we turn on the radio they talk about terrorist attacks, blood, death, funerals," Sahar wrote.

He said he had decided his 1-year-old son deserved a better, safer life elsewhere.

"This country, to which I gave most of my life and the fruits of my labor, I no longer love this country. I am willing to live for it. I'm willing to die for it in a state of war, but in these circumstances -- no."

The argument over whether to stay or leave Israel has often made headlines. Some famous Israelis have left, causing uproar, as have hordes of regular people. Others have chosen to stay.

The last eight months of Israeli-Palestinian fighting, which erupted after peace talks became deadlocked, has brought the issue to the forefront of Israel's internal battlefield.

Arik, who lives in the Israeli town of Modi'in east of Tel Aviv, wrote on the Internet site that Sahar "expresses better than anyone else how much the feeling of despair has spread in the face of never-ending terrorism."

Others were outraged.

"Your statement is the ultimate achievement for our enemies," said a person identified only as I.

Others called Sahar a "coward."

Oron from Tel Aviv said that in the army he would have had permission to "shoot him in the back" as a traitor.

Sahar said he and his wife had not decided yet where they wanted to go, but were looking for an "almost boring," quiet place where children are safe and the views are pretty.

But Eyal of Jerusalem, along with other writers, had words of caution for Sahar and harked back to the reasons behind the creation of the Jewish state.

"So long as you are Jewish you will have nowhere to run," Eyal wrote. "You will be hunted down everywhere you go just because you are Jewish."

Copyright © 2001 Reuters Limited.


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