A Strong Nation

The Jewish people, too familiar with mourning the murder of our innocents, has again been plunged into national grief over the unsurprising discovery that the three teenagers kidnapped more than two weeks ago were murdered in cold blood shortly after they were seized. Once again, faithful practitioners of the “religion of peace” have trampled on the flower of Jewish youth and, as has happened across the globe, become celebrities within their large circle of co-religionists. As PM Netanyahu said today at the funeral, “we sanctify life while they sanctify death.” If there are Muslims with a conscience and sense of decency, their voices are drowned out – or perhaps they too have been smothered – by the evil wind that blows through their faith.

Reactions, for the most part, have been predictable. President Obama, whose name apparently begins not with an “O” but with a zero, waited weeks to react and then offered a generic denunciation even though one of the murdered youth was an American citizen. Other administration entities decried the “cycle of violence” and pleaded for “restraint on both sides,” as if there is some moral equivalence between the murderer and the victim, or between the murderer and the victim who wishes to defend himself against future homicides. That moral obscenity stains the American government, and those Europeans who embrace that notion as well. The people of Israel are truly a “nation that dwells alone.”

We are also an inherently decent people that has never fully developed the tools to deal with absolute evil. And so as Israel’s government struggles for a response, it has unfortunately fallen into one of its bad habits – that of distinguishing between the “good enemies” and the “bad enemies.” Hamas serves the desirable purpose of being the bogeyman of choice, a convenient (and deserved) target. But Hamas is largely supported by a society. Hamas is not operating in defiance of their national consensus but in furtherance of it. The Palestinian Authority, a terrorist entity propped up by Israel so – for unclear reasons – there should be a “partner” with whom to negotiate Israel’s gradual surrender, or at least maintain the illusion that there is a diplomatic solution, is as guilty as Hamas. After all, it is the PA that has tried to rehabilitate Hamas by bringing them into the government through their unity agreement. It is the PA that pays terrorists and their families a salary (partly with American money) which rewards, encourages and incentivizes the murder of innocents.  The Arabs who dwell in the land of Israel are a pathologically sick society in which mothers rejoice over the homicidal and suicidal madness of their children. It is not human.

Conversely, the faith of the people of Israel has been profoundly moving. The grieving families are symbols, because Jews rightly sense it could have been anyone. The three boys – Eyal Yifrah, Gil-ad Sha’er and Naftali Fraenkel hy”d– are everyone’s sons, a point underscored by their burial together in the city of Modiin which is roughly equidistant from their three homes. Although the entire nation mourns, we can’t escape the fact that the three precious families bear the bulk of the grief and the loss affects them the most. And yet, their grace under pressure has been consistent, and their messages affecting and pointed. Uri Yifrach, father of the slain Eyal, eulogized his son by saying that “We cry not because we are afraid but because we are human. We have hearts of flesh. We have love and love will triumph.”

And their faith, their strength, has been astonishing and inspirational, even through the pain. Few will forget Rachel Fraenkel’s message sent especially to young people  that “G-d is not our employee.” We can pray, make requests, and storm the heavens but G-d has His own calculations to which we are not privy. It is especially heartrending to realize that all the prayers for their safe return occurred after they were already murdered. Many have understandably questioned G-d’s role and justice. Perhaps we should first look closer to home.

G-d’s Torah is quite clear that hostile elements must be removed from the land of Israel, or “they will be pins in your eyes and a thorn in your side” (Bamidbar 33:55). G-d’s Torah is quite clear that murderers are to be executed, so that there is atonement for the spilled blood and atonement for the land in which the blood was shed (ibid 35:33-34). We are admonished several times “to burn the evil from your midst.”

When the government of Israel serially negotiates with terrorists, gives terrorists a territorial stronghold in the land of Israel, provides terrorists with weapons, arrests terrorists and then coddles them in prisons with color TVs and advanced academic study, supplies a terrorist society with its water and electricity, captures terrorists and then releases them back into a society which welcomes them like heroes, and makes terrorism a worthwhile, even lucrative, career choice, then perhaps the problem is not G-d but man, and not just any man but those men and women who have propounded and implemented such policies, and of course never been held accountable for them.

That the Jewish people unify in times of tragedy is as welcome as it is typical, as typical as are the calls that such unity should carry over when the immediacy of the tragedy fades. We can hope, but as always, this unity also won’t carry over. People’s political positions are usually hardened by tragedy rather than transformed by it. The monstrous evil of our enemies confirms our world view, whatever it is. The kidnapping and murder by Arabs (never caught, by the way) of two other teenagers, Koby Mandell and Yosef Ish-ran in May 2001, changed no minds. The televised and gruesome lynching of two Israeli soldiers in Shchem in October 2000 shocked and horrified Israelis but ultimately changed no minds. (One of the lynchers was released in the Shalit exchange.)  There are many other such incidents, too macabre to mention. I fear it will be the same here and I have no reason to assume it will not be the same.

Those who see no use for negotiations and no hope for peace are justly bolstered by the recognition that Jews are surrounded by a barbarian society that has spawned such beasts with two legs that murder children and then celebrate their accomplishments. On the other hand, peaceniks are even more emboldened to pronounce elements of that evil entity – the “good enemies” – as true partners for peace and rush even more headlong into oblivion. After all, nothing can stop a “process;” it just goes on and on.

Yet, two events give me hope that something has changed and can make a profound imprint on Israeli society. For all our flaws, it turned out that the default position of Jews is faith and prayer, no matter how estranged from tradition some people seem on the surface. It was natural, and moving, to see secular Israelis don kippot, pray in public, recite tehillim and join all of Israel in beseeching G-d’s compassion. They may not pray tomorrow but they will surely remember that during a crisis they, like all Jews, reached out to G-d in prayer. They will remember that this heinous act served as a catalyst to reinforce their Jewish identity, not just their Israeli one. That can only have an ennobling effect, even if we soon return to the political shenanigans of old.

And, even if we didn’t need the reminder, it was rewarding to feel (here and in Israel) the overpowering sense of family that is the Jewish people. We all hoped and prayed together, as we all mourn and grieve together. Everyone in whom a Jewish heart beats feels the loss intensely. In the rest of the world people are preoccupied with soccer and in the United States with Obama’s endless scandals and missteps. All of that pales before the Jewish people – the family of Yaakov – coming together, overcome by the brutal and senseless murders of three of our children.

It was moving to see Yair Lapid state at one funeral yesterday that “behold I accept upon myself the positive commandment of ‘And you shall love your neighbor as yourself.’” Notwithstanding that we all accepted that commandment (and 612 others) at Sinai some time ago, it was poignant. Whether or not it carries over, and perhaps it will, it perfectly captured the spirit of the moment that gripped an entire nation, one family.

The day of reckoning is to come. Terror cannot be defeated because it is rooted in a depraved ideology that will endure, but it can be deterred by inflicting such pain on their society that the murderers are restrained by their own population, admittedly a tough call in a world that glorifies suicide bombing. But terrorist prisoners can serve their terms under harsh conditions; hunger strikers can be allowed to die, thereby purifying some of the world’s air; their leadership can be terminated, as can their successors; disputed land can be annexed, new settlements can be built and negotiations can cease, for a generation or two; riots can be suppressed, forcefully, the world’s outrage ignored; the IDF’s rules of engagement can be relaxed; each rocket attack (the recent upsurge is Hamas’ attempt to deter Israel from retaliating for the murders) can be responded to with proportionately overwhelming force. Their atrocious society can be broken, such that those who aspire to a normal life for their children will want to leave.

The enemy will use every means available – including that old standby, the blood libel – in order to lessen the impact of the moment, in order that our memories should fade. We cannot let that happen, but we must rather crush evil even as we fill the world with good.

As the three boys take their place among all the holy martyrs of Jewish history, we all pray that G-d should grant strength and comfort to the families, and to His people, enable us to retain our goodness even in the fight against Israel, and send His righteous Moshiach to redeem His turbulent world.      And soon.

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19 responses to “A Strong Nation

  1. Brilliant and full of wisdom!! Well done, Rabbi!

  2. There is a “Jewish” charity called PresenTense,
    which helps “Arab entrepreneurs in Israel.”

    To learn more about this outrageous and traitorous waste
    of Jewish money (and hopefully stop them), go to:

    http://ejewishphilanthropy.com/promise-in-nazareth/comment-page-1/
    http://presentense.org/

    Please contact them, and tell them they should be helping
    Jewish victims of Arab terrorists, not the Arab terrorists
    who create Jewish victims!

  3. A majority of Christians homes like mine pray for Israel and its people everyday. The GOD of the Bible says HE will BLESS those who bless Israel and their people and curse those who do not. Our family is not like our President because we call upon Mr. Netanyahu not to give up not even an inch of Israeli soil to anyone .Blessings David, Faye, and Brett Smith

  4. “[Winston] Churchill did not accept that the Jews were a foreign race
    [to the Holy Land].
    He said [in 1937 CE] it was the Arabs who had been the outsiders,
    the conquerors.”

    SOURCE: Churchill and the Jews (chapter 10,
    page 115) by Martin Gilbert, year 2007 CE

    CHRONOLOGY:
    Winston Churchill was British Prime Minister
    from 1940 to 1945 CE and from 1951 to 1955 CE.

  5. Winston Churchill said this in 1937 CE:

    “When the Mohammedan upset occurred in world history,
    and the great hordes of Islam swept over these places,
    they broke it [Palestine] all up, smashed it all up.
    You have seen the terraces on the hills which used to be
    cultivated, which under Arab rule have remained a desert.”

    SOURCE: Churchill and the Jews (chapter 10,
    page 116) by Martin Gilbert, year 2007 CE

    CHRONOLOGY:
    Winston Churchill was British Prime Minister
    from 1940 to 1945 CE and from 1951 to 1955 CE.

  6. Arab extremists [in the Holy Land in 1938 CE]
    murdered several hundred Arab moderates.

    COPYIST’S NOTE:
    History repeated itself in the 1980s CE when hundreds
    of Arabs who favored peace with Israel were murdered
    by their fellow Arabs.

    SOURCE: Churchill and the Jews (chapter 12,
    page 140) by Martin Gilbert, year 2007 CE

    CHRONOLOGY:
    Winston Churchill was British Prime Minister
    from 1940 to 1945 CE and from 1951 to 1955 CE.

  7. “The Cabinet [the government of Britain in 1938 CE] was convinced that a quiescent* Arab and Muslim world was essential for Britain, and that if appeasement was required to secure that quiescence, the government’s commitments to the Jews in Palestine were an obvious sacrifice. The fate of the Jews in Jerusalem or Tel Aviv had become vulnerable to pressure exerted in Delhi, Karachi, Cairo, Baghdad and Riyadh; pressure that was proving all-too effective.**”

    * VOCABULARY NOTE:
    One dictionary defines QUIESCENT as: quiet; still; inactive or motionless.

    ** EXPLANATION:
    The British government responded to pressure from Arabs and Muslims by blocking the paths of Jews who were fleeing from Nazi Germany to the Holy Land. As a result, thousands of Jews who could have been saved from the Nazi Holocaust were murdered, because Arabs and Muslims did not want Jews living in the Holy Land.

    SOURCE: Churchill and the Jews (chapter 12,
    page 144) by Martin Gilbert, year 2007 CE

    CHRONOLOGY:
    Winston Churchill was British Prime Minister
    from 1940 to 1945 CE and from 1951 to 1955 CE.

  8. “One result of this particular appeasement policy [towards the Arabs and Muslims] was an upsurge in official British pressure against Jewish refugees from Germany and Austria who were trying to reach Palestine without Palestine certificates, the essential documentation without which they would not be allowed to enter. With Lord Halifax’s approval, British diplomatic pressure was put on five governments, those of Greece, Yugoslavia, Turkey, Bulgaria and Romania, not to allow illegal immigrants to transit their countries en route for Palestine.”

    SOURCE: Churchill and the Jews (chapter 13,
    page 154) by Martin Gilbert, year 2007 CE

    CHRONOLOGY:
    Winston Churchill was British Prime Minister
    from 1940 to 1945 CE and from 1951 to 1955 CE.

  9. Derech hateva, the State of Israel is ruled by the far-left media and, the far left Supreme Court. Generally the government fears and submits to the media, the whole court system and the police force is subject to the Supreme Court which rules the country, and they all jump through hoops to appease the insatiable court of international opinion. Israel is not fighting with one hand tied behind its back. More like two hands tied, and a blindfold. There is a military and administrative solution, but for as long as the above mentioned powers prevail, and the goverment refuses to rule in reality, and not just in name, the situation will not improve.

    In the spiritual realm, I can only think that things are this way to make us realise that everything is Hashem, because it’s definitely not us running the show.

  10. “Their atrocious society can be broken, such that those who aspire to a normal life for their children will want to leave.”

    That sentence lost me. Why would you want those who aspire to a normal life to leave? How would it benefit Israel to have a higher density of terrorists in Palestinian society?

  11. Israel needs smart focused vengeance. Some say vengeance means Israel should kill Palestinians whether innocent or guilty in retaliation for what Palestinians did to the 3 Israelis. I disagree, because killing innocent people just for their nationality is totally immoral. The 3 Israeli teenagers were not killed for anything they did; they were killed because they were Israeli. If Israel behaves in a similar fashion by killing Palestinians just because they are Palestinians, how is Israel better than Fattah or Hamas? It also leads to a never ending cycle of vengeance.

    Instead, Israel needs focused vengeance. In my opinion, this should consist of 3 things:
    1) Punishment of the Guilty. Israel has released the names of 2 suspects; Israel should find them and put them on trial.
    2) Destroying the Terrorist Infrastructure. The kidnappings did not happen in a vacuum. Palestinian institutions eg radio and TV stations which preach hate create a climate condoning the kidnappings and an infrastructure which assists them. Those institutions and infrastructure should be destroyed or a least seriously degraded.
    3) Building Homes in Judea and Samaria Regardless of Washington’s Opposition. This serves a triple purpose; first, it provides a living memorial to the victims. Second, it tells the Palestinians that attempts to uproot Jews from Israel will have the opposite effect. Third, it helps remedy Israel’s housing shortage especially in Jerusalem.

  12. It is easier to operate militarily if there are no innocent civilians around. That is what inhibits the obliteration of Hamas and other terrorist groups.
    -RSP

    • Got it. We (a) break Palestinian society so that (b) peaceful Palestinians suffer so that (c) they leave so that (d) we can attack non-peaceful Palestinians. What could go wrong?

      • What could go wrong is an inability to sustain an offensive against the enemy. That is why nothing will change, not even after the next atrocity and a thousand more rockets and missiles.
        -RSP

  13. Around 1947 CE, British Palestine was divided into two parts:

    Eastern Palestine (78%) became the Arab state of Jordan.
    Western Palestine (22%) became the Jewish state of Israel.

    The Palestinians already have a state: It is called Jordan.
    All Palestinians should be transferred to Jordan,
    because JORDAN IS PALESTINE.

    Jews cannot live in Jordan [selling land to Jews is
    a death penalty felony in Jordan], so why should
    Palestinians be permitted to live in Israel?

  14. Stanley Fischman

    Good evening Rabbi, I hope you are enjoying your trip. Regarding the statement you quoted by Yair Lapid, in case you might not be familiar with the Edot Mizrach siddur, it contains the following beautiful tefilah: הרני מקבל עלי מצות עשה של ואהבת לרעך כמוך והרני אוהב כל אחד מבני ישראל כנפשי ומאודי and only then, והרני מזמן פי להתפלל לפני מלך מלכי המלכים הקוש ברוך הוא Best regards, Stanley Fischman

  15. Stanley Fischman

    I thought you would like to see this. Best regards, Stanley