By Shmuel Katz
I wrote the original version of this column (titled “Caught Between My Heart and My Head”) over three years ago, a couple of days after members of the Fogel family were murdered in their home by animals in the guise of humans. The names and dates have changed but the emotions are so similar.
The entire Jewish world has been dealing with a crippling crisis these past few weeks. Rumors abounded, yet there was great hope that perhaps this time we would see a positive outcome. A great feeling of achdut surrounded our people in that time—a feeling of concern, yet with hope. It was not to be.
The latest news is less than an hour old as I write this. I am sure we will hear more details and they will nauseate us to no end. But the simple truth is that three teens were snatched and shot so they could be used as bargaining chips, a play right out the Hamas playbook for terrorism.
And if you thought it was just the Jews who are targets, look no further than Nigeria, where, you guessed it, Muslim extremists kidnapped hundreds of teenage girls and are reported to have sold them off as wives to their followers. Who does this?
No matter who you are or where you live, no rational human can condone the killing of three teens simply for the sake of killing them. No one can justify the kidnapping of teens to be sold into slavery. Shootings in museums. Flying airplanes into buildings. Attacks worldwide.
No thinking, intelligent person can rationalize that an animal could have any justification or moral imperative to its (and an animal is an “it,” not a “he” or “she”) actions. The mind can barely absorb the information, much less make sense of it.
You can claim whatever you want about oppression, occupation, aggression—it makes no difference. These are crimes against humanity, outrages that are so clearly evil and abominable that the entire world needs to rise up and eradicate those responsible.
And there are those who will have the audacity to say that the attacks make sense. I’ve heard and read people saying that Eyal, Naftali, and Gilad (zichronam livracha) were hitchhiking in a dangerous area. And the Fogels were killed in a yishuv surrounded by Arab villages. That’s what happens in dangerous places, they argue.
Unfortunately, when we talk about Arabs and Jews, everywhere is dangerous. Do we forget the murder of an American tourist in the forest outside of Bet Shemesh (where we live)? Do we forget bus attacks in Jerusalem? Yeshiva students killed in Mercaz HaRav Yeshiva in Jerusalem? How about an Israeli couple killed in a museum a few weeks ago in Belgium? A teen tasered in Paris? Terrorists do not care about boundaries, they care about terror. Plain and simple.
It would be irresponsible to say that all Arabs want to kill Jews, yet sometimes, too often, it seems as if they do. And to insinuate that anyone asked to be attacked because they live in an area surrounded by people with whom they dispute dominion over the real estate is even more irresponsible. Not all Arabs want simply to kill Jews, nor is anyone who chooses to live anywhere within the borders of a democratic society inviting violence.
So where does this all leave us?
Sadly, right where we always seem to be. The world will ignore our pain and our losses and speak of “restraint” and the need to look past the minor bumps in the road. They will tell us that we need to make peace in order to prevent more such deaths, that we need to deal with “moderate” Arab leaders who have denounced terror and terrorist actions in order to ensure our long-term safety and security.
They will overlook the fact that those same “moderates” recently made a unity government with Hamas, the group reportedly responsible for this latest horror. It is as if President Obama would issue a statement renouncing the kidnap and murder of three high-school seniors in downtown Detroit by the armed militia of the Democratic Party (there is no such militia).
They will dismiss the fact that they will again be passing out candies in Gaza in celebration, just like they did in Itamar and as they do with every heinous attack, including the 9/11 Twin Towers suicide attacks. They will treat us with the same disdain that they always do.
Our side will declare unilateral moves to demonstrate that we will not be deterred from determining our actions independently of the pressure of terrorists or the world. Those who wish us harm will seek to do more and more harm and inflict more and more pain in a fervor of passionate hatred and regionally supported terror. And time and events will move on.
After my absolute loathing of those that carried out these murders and the murders themselves, the thing I hate most is that I have no answers.
There are so many opinions and so many smart people who have offered them that the soup is muddled and murky. There are no simple solutions. It would be easy to simply say, “kill them all” or “kick them out—they have other places to go and we don’t” or any one of hundreds of other cookie-cutter solutions that have no glimmer of actually happening, much less working. This issue is so divisive, not just here, but worldwide, that such unilateral solutions are impossible, no matter if we believe them to be just or not.
And so all we are left with are our emotions. Our sadness and our bitterness. And yes, our hatred. They have made it so hard not to hate. v
Shmuel Katz is the executive director of Yeshivat Migdal HaTorah (www.migdalhatorah.org), a new gap-year yeshiva. Shmuel, his wife Goldie, and their six children made aliyah in July of 2006. Before making aliyah, he was the executive director of the Yeshiva of South Shore in Hewlett. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.