When Smadar Haran spoke, not a single pair of eyes around the table at the Rimon Hotel in Tzfat was without tears.
The foreign guests and journalists who sat around her – all of them veteran war correspondents – thought they had already written and seen everything. But this meeting with Haran, who lost who her husband Danny and her daughters Einat and Yael during the terror attack on Nahariya in 1979, somehow managed to shake them up. While with one hand they were writing down every word, with the other, they were wiping away tears.
This was the first time that the Foreign Ministry had ever flown in a delegation of European war correspondents. The purpose of the trip was to expose the journalists to the terror that Israelis have to deal with, and find correlations between the Israeli and European fight against terror.
The delegation were taught about the security arrangements at Ben Gurion International airport, received a tour of the Israeli border with Syria, and visited injured Syrians who were undergoing treatment at Ziv medical center in Tzfat. However, the headline of the trip was with Haran.
"My story isn't just my own personal story. It’s the story of the Jewish nation and of the State of Israel. It represents the spirit of the state of Israel," Haran began.
She continued, "This is a national story, and although I'm a terror victim, I decided not to live like a victim and to re-build my life – just as my mother survived the Holocaust and re-built her life in Israel, just like how the Jews creatively re-built themselves any time there are losses or casualties."
In 1979, terrorist Samir Kuntar infiltrated Israel on a rubber boat from Lebanon along with three other terrorists from the "Palestine Liberation Front." The four came ashore in Nahariya, shot dead police officer Eliyahu Shahar and broke into the apartment of the Haran family. There, they took Danny Haran and his four-year-old daughter Einat hostage while Smadar hid in a crawl space with two-year-old daughter Yael.
Smadar accidentally smothered her daughter Yael to death while her she was trying to stop the toddler from crying and revealing their hiding place.
Danny and meanwhile Einat were taken to the beach where a firefight ensued between the terrorists and police officers who arrived at the scene. Kuntar shot Danny Haran then smashed Einat's skull with the butt of his rifle, killing her as well.
"After the attack in Nahariya," Haran went on, "I thought about my values - what type of person I want to be - and I decided that I want to be a person full of giving, not hate. I didn't seek revenge, and I decided that wherever my life is stopped or interrupted, I would continue anew."
"I never left Nahariya, and I live there today – close to where everything happened. A lot of the people who came to mourn my loss were Arabs, and they live together with us. My children knew their children. The lives of the Arabs and the Jews are intertwined like a collage."
When asked what she thought regarding the fact that Samir Kuntar, the man who killed her family, was freed by Israeli authorities, Haran said "when others asked what I thought about Kuntar's release, I wrote a letter to the prime minister saying that Kuntar isn't my personal prisoner, and I'm not his personal jailer. I said the decision needs to be made for the greater good and be done with the best interests of the State of Israel in mind. I knew he would return to terror, it wasn't something that surprised me."
When she was asked what her feelings were when Kuntar was assassinated, she said "to my surprise, I didn't feel anything, but I was happy to know that he wouldn't be carrying out any more terror attacks in the future."
The foreign journalists left the meeting with the emotion showing on their faces.
"Smadar is a model to be emulated, a true hero. The thing that really amazed us was her lack of hate and need for revenge after everything she had been through."