Photo Credit: Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90
Rabbi Leo Dee and his two surviving daughters (a son also survived the attacks) meet with patients who received organ donations from Lucy Dee, at the Rabin Medical Center (Beilinson) in Petah Tikva, May 2.

Disappointed With CNN Coverage, Hopes for Torah Initiative in U.S.



A man whose wife and two daughters were murdered by terrorists might blame the Israeli government, or G-d, or disconnect from society in anguish. Rabbi Leo Dee, whose wife Lucy and daughters Rina, 15, and Maia, 20, were murdered by terrorists, said he is doing none of those things.

The April 7 attack in which a hail of bullets was fired into the car in which his wife Lucy and his daughters were riding has understandably caused him great emotional pain. Dee was in a different car with his three other children as the family was en route to Tiberias. Lucy, 48, died from her wounds three days after the attack.

Rather than lashing out in anger, Dee said the loved ones he has lost would want him to continue to work to make the world a better place.

“I don’t blame the Israeli government,” Dee told The Jewish Press in a phone interview from Israel. “At the shiva, there were security forces that came one by one to apologize for the fact that they weren’t able to protect my family. But what I said to them all was it could easily be that you’re driving along and a terrorist drives his car straight into yours – which happens. I spent an hour with a friend whose family was wiped out from that – his wife and two kids. If it hadn’t been with a Kalashnikov and 20 bullets, if it was going to happen, it could have happened another way.”

As for his belief in G-d, Dee quoted Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, who was chief rabbi of England and effectively Dee’s boss for six years when the rabbi worked in England. He said Rabbi Sacks would recall the story of a Holocaust survivor answering a question about faith.

“He said the survivor was asked if he had doubts in his faith in G-d after the Holocaust, and the person said, ‘No, I have doubts about my faith in mankind.’

“The Wannsee Conference, where Nazis planned the Final Solution, in which they would massacre Jews in such large numbers, the men in the room mostly had PhDs. Listen, unfortunately, there are terrorists, and they should be eliminated. There is certainly concern in Arab leadership and what institutions are helping them to do harmful things. But we must make a distinction between terrorists and regular people. When I go shopping, I get my tomatoes next to Palestinian Arabs. We have Palestinians friends. When you speak of the general Arab population, they are good people.”

The story made more unwanted headlines when CNN’s Christian Amanpour referred to the murder of his family members as “a shootout” rather than calling it a terrorist attack or at worst, a “shooting.” Calling it a shootout, to somehow suggest that his wife and daughters had a shooting battle with gunmen, managed to pour salt on an already large wound. Amanpour apologized on air after threats of a lawsuit, but there is still one going forward, reportedly for $1.3 billion.

“I also had two other interactions with CNN staff that both made me feel like I was the terrorist and somehow the terrorist was the victim,” Dee said. “So, I don’t think it was a chance statement. It seems to be an outlook. And it seems to be a trend of victimizing the terrorist and terrorizing the victim. We have Jewish legal experts in America and Israel lining up to help. If there is a chance of getting them to change, which is really the purpose of this lawsuit, I hope that can happen, regarding their future coverage of what goes on in Israel.”

He described his daughter, Rina, as the person who, if there was a girl in the class who had no friends, would put her arm around her. If there was a girl who was not invited to play in a ballgame, she would start another game just for her to include her. He said she would look out for people to make sure nobody was left out.

He said Maia loved learning Torah and started to buy snacks with her own money and she would teach the parsha of the week to nine-year-old girls. Dee said that initiative has spread to 560 schools across Israel.

“It’s a beautiful thing that it is being done in her memory,” Dee said. “The initiative is something I’d love to do in America if the right partner could come along and help.”

Dee said the spark for his relationship with Lucy got going at a Tikkun Leil Shavuot, or all-night learning/Torah lectures at Oxford University. He said he realized they were a good team when they later beat two PhDs at bridge.

“She went to Japan for a year, and we communicated mainly over the internet,” he said. “But after that game of bridge, I knew there was a spark.”

That was 1995. They would get married and go from England to Israel in 2004 for him to get semicha, not yet to make aliyah. They went back to England for six years.

“One time, Lucy woke up in the middle of the night and said, “I’ve had a dream,’” Dee recalled. “The shekel got stronger against the pound and house prices in Efrat went up, so we better get a house there or we won’t be able to afford to move back to Efrat.

He said what was odd is that his wife had no financial training or knowledge of property values.

“She had this vision,” he said. “So we sold our house. I went first without her in 2010 and she later came. The crazy thing is she was right. I can tell you now, back then the house in London could have bought three houses in Efrat. Today the same house in Efrat is worth double the house in London.”

Dee said that the media can also give a false impression and likes to refer to “any Jews who live in Judea and Samaria or what the media calls the West Bank” as radicals who are unhinged.

“They want to portray us as fascist anti-Arab right-wingers,” he said. “The truth of the matter is that we live very closely with our Arab neighbors and get along with them. We have friends from Bethlehem, Hevron and even Ramallah. People who live in Efrat understand what it is. This attack didn’t happen in my neighborhood and wasn’t done by my neighbors. It was done by a deranged terrorist.”

Even though they were married for more than 20 years, Dee said he and his wife had been connecting best in recent times.

“Things were going extremely well,” he said. “Sadly, she was taken from us very suddenly.”

On the day of this interview, Dee said he had already done ten speaking engagements. How does he have the energy and capacity to do this in the wake of such a horrific crime?

“Lucy was a person who wanted to activate everyone and get them involved in the community,” he said. “I feel like in a way she is sending me messages.”

His wife’s organs were donated to at least five people. In early May, Israeli officials said soldiers had gone into Nablus to arrest the two men responsible for the attack on Lucy Dee and two of her daughters. The Times of Israel reported that “armed clashes took part around the home” and the two men who were to be arrested were killed, along with another man.

Asked about any possibility for peace in the region, Dee said he is working on a “Shalom” Plan with an imam in Haifa.

“To all Jews in America, they should make aliyah and come and join us,” Dee said. “This is the future of the Jewish people.”

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Alan has written for many papers, including The Jewish Week, The Journal News, The New York Post, Tablet and others.