Irit Schmerling, the daughter of the murdered Reuven Schmerling, Hy”d, said in an interview Sunday that the family has “no doubt” that her father was murdered by Arabs acting out of nationalistic motives. Speaking to Israel Radio, Irit Schmerling said that “we realized right away that this was not a monetary dispute gone bad. Our father was well-loved and he loved others. He had no enemies, and always was able to reach compromises with others. No one in the world had anything against him. He did business with so many people and got along with everyone. From the beginning we knew this was a murder for nationalistic reasons.”
The investigation into the murder of Reuven Schmerling is proceeding, with Channel Two quoting police as saying that evidence was mounting that it was committed by Arabs with nationalistic motives. Over 1,000 people attended the levayah for Schmerling in his home town of Elkana, after the body of the 70-year-old religious man was discovered in a warehouse he owned in the Arab town of Kafr Qassem on Erev Sukkos.
Police had initially said that they believed that Schmerling had been killed in a financial dispute with workers of his, at the warehouse belonging to his family business. However, Channel Two reported Motzoei Shabbos that police had “growing suspicions” that the murder was committed for nationalistic reasons, based on evidence that had emerged over the past several days. A police gag order was placed over the details of the investigation.
Family members came to the levayah wearing shirts that had been made up especially for the victim’s 70th birthday – which was to be celebrated on Sukkos. “The murder was especially painful in light of that,” said Irit Schmerling. “We were preparing a whole celebration for Motzoei Chag, and we got the horrible news in the midst of our preparations. It is unbelievable.”
Speaking at the levayah, Harav Meir Yehuda Stern, the Rabbi of Elkanah, said that Reuven had “been murdered al kiddush Hashem. We cannot be maspid him on chol hamo’ed, but we can bid farewell to a man whose entire being was simchah. This horrible murder is another attempt by evil people to destroy the bond between our people, our land, and our Torah.” Also speaking at the levayah, MK Nissan Slomiansky (Jewish Home) said that “in the past Jews could only pray for vengeance against their enemies. Today, we tell the government that there cannot be a situation where in the center of the country Jewish blood will be cheap. We demand that this be the end of it.”
Speaking to Channel 10, Kafr Qassem mayor Adal Badir said that “any business person that comes to Kafr Qassem is a part of this town, and the murder of this man is a great loss for us. The investigation is just beginning, and we await its results. It appears that this was a financial dispute, and that its perpetrators were not local residents. We hope that police will finish their investigation as quickly as possible so that the criminals who committed this act can be brought to justice.”