For one day, Arab and Jews join to bury peace's friend
Two sons' eulogies differ on meaning of their father's death in Haifa bombing
HAIFA, ISRAEL — Many of those mourning Dov Chernobroda, an Israeli architect among the 14 people killed Sunday in a suicide bombing in Haifa, say it was fitting that he met his end at the Arab-run Matza restaurant.
Mr. Chernobroda ate there all the time because he loved the food, the atmosphere, and the managers, the Adawi family. His close relations with Arabs were very much on the mind of the mourners, Jewish and Arab, who stood near his flag-draped corpse and listened as a rabbi read Psalms Tuesday in a cemetery overlooking the Mediterranean Sea where other victims of the bombing were also interred.
The Arabs and Muslims there remembered Chernobroda for projects including a sports stadium in Umm al-Fahm, the country's largest Arab city, for helping to run Beit HaGefen, a cultural center that promotes coexistence, and for breaking a taboo by forming an unprecedented candidate list comprised of Zionists and a predominantly Arab party in Haifa municipal elections. Mohammed Sharif, head of the small Ahmadiyya Muslim community in Haifa, said Chernobroda gave it free advice on planning matters over many years.
Did Chernobroda's death signify the hollowness of his life ethos? Or did this ethos remain intact and take on even more importance on a day when Israel was waging a large-scale and controversial offensive in Bethlehem, Ramallah, and other West Bank towns for the stated reason of eliminating terrorism? In a reflection of the larger differences in Israeli society, those giving the eulogies disagreed openly.
One of Chernobroda's sons, Shaul, was certain that his father's death was proof of the naivete of his father's world view and efforts. His words broken by sobs, he said: "How could they kill you, especially you who tried for a Palestinian state even more than the Palestinians themselves? Father, do not say that I didn't tell you so. Thanks for your values, which I took and then went in the opposite direction. You used to ask: 'How did I produce such a monster?' And to laugh about it, because you loved me anyway."
His older brother, Yoav, defended his father's humanism: "It is so wrong that you were killed by a cruel fanatic during a period in which this country has lost its way. You were a torch of hope. Everyone called you naive, but you showed that every human is created in God's image. You showed us that there is one way, to believe in the worth of humans even in this difficult hour."
Yoav recalled his father's friendship with Faisal Husseini, the Palestinian nationalist leader from Jerusalem who died last year. Chernobroda often organized speaking appearances for the Palestinian leader in Haifa.
"Everyone knows that only the principles of coexistence can bring us all back to sanity," Yoav said. "Peace will come father. I love you so much."
Terez Azzam, an Arab architect who worked with Chernobroda, said: "He had his own politics, which was to live side by side, to have a state for Palestinians, and to live in peace and to struggle for this everywhere. His death is very difficult for every one of us."
Moments later, as mourners stood in the mud, relatives shoveled dirt on Chernobroda's grave and a rabbi recited a Hebrew prayer, el moleh rehamim, God is filled with mercy.