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Sunday, March 9, 2008

Merkaz HaRav

---this post was delayed, due to our server being down.... again! ---

I can't write about anything other than the terrible tragedy of last Thursday night.

A brutal Arab terrorist walked into the Merkaz HaRav Yeshiva, and machine gunned the yeshiva students, killing 8, and wounding 11 (reports about the number of wounded vary).

I had plans for Thursday night: KAA just turned 40 and I invited her and LF to come over and celebrate! We planned a fun & light-hearted "girl's night out" (more accurately a "girl's night in"). LF brought all the fixings for ice cream sundaes, and KAA brought a great selection of "chick flicks". We never got around to watching a film. We were having such a good time talking and laughing, we decided to forgo the movie and just enjoy sharing thoughts and stories.

The evening was filled with laughter and good humor... until we learned of the terrorist attack, as it was still going on.

Then, what could we talk about? What could we laugh about?

The rest of the evening, as we learned what happened, our conversation turned to living with fear and terror, and the frustrations of living under a government that does not protect its citizens.

We talked about hope for the future, we talked about Jewish leadership, we talked about how nice it must be to be a leftist and believe that it is up to us to create peace, how much easier it is to live with cognitive dissonance and believe that peace is in our control, rather than live with the knowledge that no matter what we do, the Arabs will hate us and seek to destroy us.

"I believe that the "amcha" (the common people) are like us, that they just want to live in peace," said one of my friends.

I used to believe that too.

But, I ask you, where are the Arab peace movements? Where are the bereavement support groups for mothers of suicide bombers? Where are the parents protesting what Arab children are learning in kindergarten (to grow up and be suicide bombers) or watching on TV (that the best thing they can do is to kill Jews)? Where is the outrage when other Arabs go out and slaughter Jews?

Why does the world tolerate this silence?

I am sick and tired of hearing excuses like "They have to say that," or "They can't speak out."

What happened to social responsibility and social accountability?

As Edmund Burke said, "All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing."

It's time to stop excusing the Arabs as if they were weak-minded and stupid.

The Arabs are clever and strong.

The reason that they say what they say is because they mean it.

They want to kill us. They want to destroy us. They do not want to live in peace.

They have a different worldview and it is time we let go of our colonialist attitude that if we just "educate them" then they will want peace. We need to recognize that these people have their own, very different, worldview, and they have a sophisticated plan for achieving their goal.

And let's face the facts: they are winning.

Israel is the only place in the world where Jews can be killed just because they are Jews and NOTHING HAPPENS.

As we were discussing all this, Y came home from babysitting.

She needed to re-adjust her plans for the next day, since she would not be able to take busses under the current circumstances.

"It's not fair," Y protested.

"It's not fair," KAA concurred.

"It's not fair," I echoed.

What else could we say? It wasn't fair.

I felt bad for Y. And I felt bad to be the one limiting her.

It's not fair that she has to grow up like this.

It's not fair that our government does not protect us.

It's not fair that Y (and MD, and A) will always remember guards in front of kindergartens and restaurants.

Israel wasn't always like this.

It used to be safe to eat in restaurants. It used to be safe to ride on busses. It used to be safe to walk in the Arab marketplace. It used to be safe to drive through Arab towns. It used to be safe to hike in nature without a gun.

On Shabbat, shul (synagogue) announcements were framed by Thursday's incident. First, the acknowledgement that it is difficult to deal with Thursday's terrible event. Then, information about various simchas (celebrations), like births and weddings. Then, a public request that members of our shul (synagogue), who own weapons, bring them to davening (prayers).

I don't know why I was surprised.

It makes sense.

We are all at risk.

Still, it makes me sad.

It's just not fair.

Please daven (or send happy, healing thoughts) for RivkA bat Teirtzel.

With love and optimism,


Rochie said...

I know we don't share the same opinions about Israeli politics (to say the least) and I am not going to start saying what I make of it.
There is, however, one thing I do want to say.
I was born here and grew up in Israel. The fear was ALWAYS there. There were bombs in buses and in the streets, there were terrorists who entered schools, houses and many other places, and it was NEVER safe here. I, like your kids and mine, grew up with the fear and the limitations set upon us based on terrorism.
I clearly remember as a child looking for a safe hiding place in my own house where terrorists, if they enter the house, won't find me.
Just a thought...

HolyCityPrayer said...


I wasn't born here, but I grew up here.

Fear, terror, and safety are not pass/fail.

While we agree that Muslim Arab terror has had the same goal since the beginning of Zionism (in fact, arguably since the beginning of Islam), the opportunity and capability has grown unrecognizably since Oslo. And the confusion of Israel in response to it as well.



RivkA with a capital A said...

Israel has certainly changed in the 18 years since I moved here.

While there was always terrorism, and always fear, to a certain degree, security has deteriorated exponentially.

When I moved here 18 years ago:
There were no guards on busses
There were no guards at restaurants
There were no guards at kindergartens

When I moved here 18 years ago:
Jews could walk safely through Arab villages, including Hevron and Ramallah

When I moved here 18 years ago:
It was safe to go on tiyul (hikes)without a gun

When I moved here 18 years ago:
Israel was still fighting terrorism and terrorists

When I moved here 18 years ago:

Israel didn't negotiate with terrorists.

It was illegal to have contact with terrorists.

Israel didn't give land, money and weapons to terrorists.

Israel didn't release terrorists from jail as "good will gestures"

A lot has changed in the last 18 years.

Anonymous said...

There's an amazing interview with the head of the Mercaz Harav high school ("Yashlatz"). You can read it at www.inn.com and from there you can link to the original hebrew video.


Lurker said...

Rochie: I was born here and grew up in Israel. The fear was ALWAYS there. There were bombs in buses and in the streets, there were terrorists who entered schools, houses and many other places, and it was NEVER safe here.

Certainly, you are correct that Israelis have always been victimized by Arab terror, ever since the founding of the state (and for half a century prior, too). But surely you're not trying to suggest that the magnitude of that terror has always been the same? Terrorism in Israel had never even approached the horrible levels that they jumped to during the past 15 years.

Do you know how many suicide bomb attacks there were before the Rabin government signed the Oslo Accords with the PLO?
Answer: ZERO (0). Yes, really. Suicide bombings first began only following the signing of Oslo.

In September 1993, Rabin's and Peres' new policy of negotiating with terrorists and arming them sparked a massive wave of terrorist attacks in Israel, of unprecedented proportions: Immediately following the signing of Oslo, terrorism skyrocketed to levels that had been previously unknown. In the 30 months beginning with the Oslo signing, more Israelis were killed by terrorists (213) than in the entire preceding decade (209 from January 1983 to September 1993). You can find a graph illustrating this phenomenon here.

This massive explosion of terror attacks continued until Netanyahu came to power -- when they dropped dramatically, for the very first time since the Oslo Accords had been signed. Netanyahu's term in office marked the first time that the level of terror attacks dropped back down to pre-Oslo levels. You can see this visually, along with the figures, on the graph cited above.

This respite didn't last very long, of course. In 1999, Netanyahu was succeeded by Ehud Barak, who declared his intention to continue the policies of Rabin and Peres. True to his word, at Camp David, he offered Arafat a final-status deal that included the entire Gaza Strip, 97% of the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Temple Mount. Arafat's response was to reject the offer, and to launch a new terror war (the "Second Intifada") that dwarfed even the monstrous levels of bloodshed that had hit Israel during the Rabin and Peres governments.

More Israeli civilians -- men, women, and children -- were slaughtered in the years since Oslo than in all the years since the founding of the state in 1948 up until the accords were signed in 1993. The numbers speak for themselves.

Rochie: I, like your kids and mine, grew up with the fear and the limitations set upon us based on terrorism.

Again, it's true that all Israeli children have had to grow up with the fear and threat of terror. But (without discussing exceptional cases) it is simply absurd to suggest that the level of that threat for children growing up since Oslo, was the same as that for those who grew up prior to it. Before Oslo, kindergartens did not, as a rule, have armed guards standing in front. Nor were there armed security men on buses, or guarding restaurants. Living in the midst of this fortress mentality, it's easy to forget that things were once very different. But the fact is that they were.

Lurker said...
This comment has been removed by the author.