JERUSALEM (VINnews) — Yisrael Diskind, brother of Simcha Bunim Diskind who was killed in the Meron tragedy, has been the driving force behind the establishment of the commission of inquiry into the incident, which was the largest civilian tragedy in Israel’s history. In a recent interview on Channel 20, an Israeli television outlet, Diskind described how various chareidi communal activists tried to persuade him to desist from his efforts and how he was even offered a bribe to withdraw from his demand.
After the shiva for his brother. Diskind established the “Forum for Families of Meron Tragedy”, making a point of visiting all the families of the 45 victims and persuading them that they could not go back to routine even if they believe that such a tragedy is preordained by Hashem. At the same time, Diskind saw how politicians bickered over responsibility for the tragedy rather than providing immediate compensation to the families of the victims.
The 26-year-old who is married with one child, is from a Gerer chasidic family but now pursues a more modern lifestyle, although still maintaining his religious beliefs. He told the Knesset Finance Committee: “No problem -just move forward with it and don’t tell me stories! Don’t send me to the committee and promise a framework within three weeks which never materializes. Unfortunately, the state is relying on the network within the chareidi community raising money for the families but it is the state which has to provide answers.”
However Diskind is also furious with the chareidi establishment for trying to cover up and prevent the formation of the current commission of enquiry. In a Yisrael Hayom interview he said that: “During the shloshim I met one of the chareidi MKs. He said to me: ‘Yisrael, I understand what you are doing but I’m telling you- lay off, you’re wasting your time. There won’t be a national commission of enquiry, remember what I said.’ There were crazy pressures on me and on other members of the forum. Too many people are afraid for their reputations.
“We didn’t give up for a moment. As the pressure intensified, I knew I was in the right direction. Rabbi Nachman says: The more the difficulties, the greater the Tikkun (rectification).”
At one point Diskind received a call from a prominent chareidi activist, stating that “if the families will declare that they don’t need a commission of enquiry, we have a donation of 5-10 million dollars for the families.” Diskind said: “Does this mean that if not, we won’t get the money?” The activist replied that “You have to understand that this issue of a commission of enquiry causes discomfort to donors abroad who want to transfer money. They see you meeting with [religious affairs minister] Kahane and [Defense Minister] Gantz and it irks them. Lay off.”
Diskind was stunned. Did the activist really feel that he could buy justice for the deceased with a few million dollars?
“Obviously it wasn’t simple, he tells you:’because of you young orphans won’t get this money’. He hit me in the most painful spot. You know what it’s like to see my niece crying ‘Daddy, Daddy’ and kissing his picture? He knew it was the most sensitive spot for me and that just made me more mad.
“I told him: ‘If we accept your offer, it would mean we don’t care about our brothers and we don’t care about the future of the state since there is a significance to commissions of enquiry and to their decisions.”
Diskind also got a call from one of the widows, who was also asked to hold back on demanding a commission of enquiry. “The activist came to her and said:’Who will ensure your kids get into a good yeshiva? If you continue asking for a commission of enquiry, which is a big Chillul Hashem, nobody will care for your children.”
“I told her not to be afraid. If he tries to say this again, I will excoriate him in every possible forum. She told him she was not involved in the matter.”
‘They can pray until tomorrow that the commission won’t touch them but I don’t believe Hashem will listen to them, especially as we have 45 holy souls who know that justice rests with us.”