A Response to Terror
By: Rabbi Yeruchem Eilfort
This week has been very difficult as the casualties from the latest Palestinian wave of terror continue to pile up. This week’s synagogue massacre was particularly agonizing for me, as fellow Rabbis, whose only ‘sin’ was their Jewishness, were targeted and mercilessly hacked to death with meat cleavers and knives. Copious amounts of blood stained their formerly snowy-white Talaisim and the holy pages of the prayers books they read from. The attack didn’t take place in legally disputed territory – it took place in the Western Jerusalem neighborhood of Har Nof. The murdered rabbis were not soldiers – just Jews speaking to G-d. 26 new orphans were created and four widows due to this attack. Again it has become ‘fashionable’ to murder Jews. Again Jewish blood is cheap.
The difficult part of this particular story for me is that I see myself in the shoes of victims. After all, I am a rabbi who conducts daily services. I relate, in a very personal way, to the tragedy. Devastatingly I am no longer shocked or even surprised when such a vicious attack is perpetrated against our people by the Palestinians (or radical Muslims in general). What I find maddening is the reprehensible coverage of such attacks by the likes of CNN, the BBC, Reuters, and most of the other ‘mainstream’ media. Through tortuous ‘logic’ they manage to try and show ‘balance’ between the murderous perpetrators and the innocent victims, like CNN’s headline that four Israelis and two Palestinians died. They misreport critical facts, like the attack occurred in a synagogue – NOT a mosque, or that the area where they were attacked is ‘occupied’ territory. Or they attempt to impart the message that this was somehow Israeli (Jewish) aggression like the headline that read “Two Palestinians Killed by Israeli Police.”
In my opinion these ‘news’ outlets are complicit in these terror activities. They have become so biased and twisted in their coverage as to have become propaganda agents for the enemies of a Jewish national home. They are generally quite hostile to peaceful people and Jewish interests, most of the time overtly. They have stilted their editorial bent to such a degree that their methods would make the Nazis proud.
I have become cynical. I do not think most of the world cares any more, or at least those with power. We can count on one hand the number of reliable allies Israel has in the international arena. The leader of the free world equivocates and advocates for a dramatically weakened Israel and continues to give those with blood on their hands (including American blood) the benefit of the ‘doubt’. I believe that Jewish blood has again become cheap. I can only shake my head sadly as people offer excuses for the Palestinians.
The answer is because they are Muslim and the Israelis are for the most part Jewish. Today, and for the past number of years, it has become unfashionable to criticize Islam and/or Muslims. Anyone who does offer unapologetic criticism is labeled an Islamaphobe (or is marked for death). Islam now seems to be above reproach. Everyone seems terrified of antagonizing Islam. I find it astonishing that those who strongly speak out for democracy, human rights (including women’s rights, gay rights, and racial equality rights) seem to go strangely silent when discussing the Jewish – Muslim battle for Israel. How can any liberal-minded human being with half an ounce of common sense not vigorously defend Israel and assert her rights?!
I am also very disappointed in my co-religionists who call the Palestinian perpetrators of these atrocities ‘monsters,’ or ‘animals’ or numerous other inaccurate descriptions. It is an insult to animals and ‘monsters’ to call people, who are intelligent and who have choice, by these names. These people are much worse than any animal. They are as low as the Nazis (maybe lower because they should have learned the lessons of Nazi evil) – just not as well organized. They are the personification of evil. They are the mortal enemy of civilized human kind.
Now that my hands have been wrung in despair what answers may be offered? What words of consolation may be recited that won’t sound hollow or superficial?
Unfortunately there is no easy way out of this darkness. It will take dedication and a lot of hard work. It will take courage and generosity of spirit to climb out of this deep hole.
We must first of all take every possible step to enhance security, starting in Israel, which is on the front lines of this battle for civilization, and simultaneously working on all other vulnerable targets. This may mean utilizing certain methods that go against our natural tendencies towards openness and tolerance. We may have to look twice at someone wanting to enter our shul who does not look like he belongs. We may have to ask some extra questions of someone who asks a lot of questions about our schedules and routines. Israel may have to create more security checkpoints and use more discretion regarding who they allow into their neighborhoods and institutions.
The bodies of the terrorists should not be returned to their families for burial. On the contrary, they should be incinerated and their ashes should be cast into the sea. If a street or a school is named after the terrorist, it should be destroyed. Their homes should be demolished, their families (if found to be supportive of the terror) should be evicted and their homes and assets should be given to the victims. This may seem cruel, but it is actually kind, for if/when these types of measures are instituted a lot of the terror will finally stop. Everyone will benefit when Israel wins this war, even (especially?) the Palestinians themselves. After all, who suffers the most from this war on decency and civilization? Obviously, the Palestinians who continue to raise bumper crop after bumper crop of hateful murderers who have nothing positive to offer humanity.
On top of those steps, and beginning immediately, we must demonstrate that the terrorists will actually accomplish the opposite of their goals. New villages should be contemplated in Judea and Samaria in the name of the terror victims. New shuls should be built. New Jewish schools opened. The money currently being sent to the Palestinians should be used for these purposes. The money taken from the terrorists should used as incentives to help these people get new lives out of the land of the Jewish people. Help them get away from their corrupt (and very rich) ‘leaders’ who continue to bilk the world out of billions.
Locally we must find a way to add in our educational programs, particularly those that teach the truth; that Israel belongs to the Jewish people, and that it is the Jewish people who have the moral high-ground in this conflict. Jews certainly must find ways to enhance our unity, to build our communities, and to be strong in our attachment to Israel, each other, and G-d’s Torah.
In our case, our Friday night services will be in the memory of the victims of Palestinian terror.
It is (still) with complete faith that I believe in the ultimate victory of Israel and the Jewish people!
Rabbi Eilfort welcomes readers’ questions/comments via email at RabbiE@ChabadatLaCosta.com.