First, I am unharmed and my family is unharmed.
But we are not okay.
In the midst of what is occurring, I want to pan out a bit and share my thoughts about what comes next.
skip this part if you want, it was important for me to put a frame around things.
First, I am a religious man. This means that I believe that G-d is involved in our lives. The most natural question – the question that must be asked – is “How could G-d allow this to occur?”
In my reading, this question forms one of the centerpieces of the Five Books of Moses.
G-d says to Abraham “I brought you out of Ur Kasdim.” But G-d didn’t tell Avraham to leave Ur Kasdim. It was Terach, Avraham’s father who left Ur Kasdim. Why did Terach leave? The Torah tells us: “And Haran died in the face of Terach his father, in the land of his birth, in Ur Kasdim.”
Terach left because his son died right in front of him – and he could not stay.
When G-d tells Avraham “I brought you out of Ur Kasdim”, G-d is saying “I killed your brother so your father would relocate.”
Avraham’s answer is telling. He says: “How can I believe you?”
We can see it now. Haran’s death enabled Avraham to change the world. His death is barely even a footnote of a footnote in our reality. But for Avraham? For Avraham, it was beyond comprehension. G-d could not be trusted.
The sons of Aaron, Nadav and Avihu, died to serve as an object lesson in the nature of holiness. For Aaron, it was beyond comprehension or speech. And yet every Rabbi and commentator since has found reasons for why it occurred.
The Torah makes the length of the bridge between the divine perspective and the human perspective clear. In the first reading of Vayikra/Leviticus, it reviews all the offerings brought by man. Only one is called ‘Holy’ – the offering of grain that is eaten by the Kohen. The word ‘Holy’ is not applied to any other offering. For the common man, an animal being sacrificed, or grain being burned, feels so destructive that they cannot internalize its holiness. In the very next reading, from the perspective of the Kohen/Priest who did not raise that animal or plant that grain, every offering is called ‘Holy.’ Their perspective – the divine perspective – is different. They can see the spiritual beauty created through the offerings.
The Torah embraces that difference. We are not meant to share G-d’s perspective.
Jewish tradition records that 80% of all Jews in Egypt died during the Exodus. Why had there been slavery in the first place? From the divine perspective, the price paid was appropriate as an enabler of the Exodus, the return to our land and the creation of a relationship between a nation and G-d.
From the human perspective, it was incomprehensible.
Our greatest leader, Moshe, fights against it every step of the way. His brother Aaron does not. I believe this is why Moshe is chosen as the leader – and not Aaron. We are not meant to accept – we are meant to push back and to argue. We are meant to be human.
The Exodus was tied by so many to possibly the greatest tragedy in Jewish history (the extent of the Roman tragedy is greater than many realize): the Shoah/Holocaust. It is a direct parallel – the mass death of Jews and Germans leading to an Exodus and then a return to our land. My grandfather held a Passover Seder in which he cursed G-d for both the Exodus from Egypt and the Shoah. There are many things G-d may not have appreciated about my grandfather, but I somehow feel confident that *this* wasn’t held against him.
From a human perspective, the divine calculations should be impossible to internalize – even if we understand them.
I’m not writing this, today, as a theological argument. I am writing it with a very practical purpose in mind.
I believe it is within our power to see the divine purpose behind what has just occurred.
Prior to this weekend, 1715 Jews had been killed by terrorists since the Oslo Accords. Despite – or perhaps because of – our efforts at peace we are both no closer to peace and no closer to security.
I am not the kind of religious man who believes our suffering is engendered by well we wrap our tefillin (prayer phylacteries) or pronounce the Shema (our core prayer). If G-d wanted a community that followed Halacha (Jewish law) perfectly – he may well have rescued the Jews anytime during the roughly 1,900 years from the destruction of the Temple until 1948. I don’t believe the 250 who died at a Music Festival for Peace were any less beloved by G-d than the 250 who didn’t show up for prayers in my synagogue because of the threat of rockets.
This too is made clear in the Torah. When the leaders of the tribes are chosen, the leader of the tribe of Dan (the tribe of Judgement) is AchiEzer son of AmiShadai – “My Brother is my Help son of My Nation is God.” His co-tribalist Amiel – another phrase that means “My Nation is G-d” – is identified as a Prince who helps lead the spies into the land of Israel. This is a tribe – much like our modern tribe that embraces the role of Judgement and Judges – that sees little place for G-d. And yet, Dan is welcomed to bring an offering that is exactly the same as every other tribe’s offering. In no way does the Torah demote or skip over the Tribe of Dan. Everybody can have a relationship with G-d.
So, I see no punishment in what happened this Simchat Torah. No, just as with the death of Haran and the Exodus from Egypt – there is instead opportunity.
What Comes Next
Before I continue, let me make very very clear that I believe in peace and opportunity for Palestinians. I want a road towards a better reality. You can read my Constitution at IsraelConstitution.org.il and see it written right in there. I create provisions that grant full citizenship to Palestinians on a city-by-city basis; with the precondition that they turn over those who incite or carry out violence against Israel. I want an off-ramp in which Palestinians enjoy full rights and lives of freedom.
I will go even further. I am a religious Jew, but I do not believe that Jews are the only people with a relationship with G-d. I believe all of mankind is capable of such a relationship – and I believe both Christians and Muslims are monotheists who have their own distinct relationships to G-d. Nobody can simply be disposed of or ignored.
So, what is the opportunity created by this tragedy?
For years, Israel has been stuck in a halfway point.
They have been trying to secure peace by giving concessions to the those most powerful (and violent) forces in the Palestinian world. The outcome has been predictable – those violent forces become more violent.
When Israel has engaged in war, it has been unable to eliminate these groups because of international condemnation driven by concern for civilians. And the outcome has been predictable – those violent forces perfect their exploitation of civilians.
Now we have a chance to change that narrative. Israel has an opportunity to bring peace through war. To many Western minds, this seems impossible. But consider that Egypt made peace after being thoroughly defeated in 1973. Germany and Japan made peace, after being thoroughly defeated in 1945.
Once your enemy gives up on war, peace is possible. But, until now, Israel could not conduct a war so thorough that that would be possible.
Now the sickness of the society created by Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad and all the others has been revealed. Now Israel can strike – as the US and UK did against Germany – and deal with the sickness. Now, Israel has an obligation to do so. People who behave like this must be so thoroughly punished that they will never seek to do so again.
I am not recommended the targeting of civilians. I am also not recommended that fighters be spared because they hide behind civilians. Up to 2 million German civilians died in WWII. I am okay with that. The Germans allowed an evil to spread and metastasize and they were made an example of. I see no moral quandary in the carpet bombing of Dresden – they allowed an evil as yet unseen to overcome their society. I see a lesson being taught to German citizens: Never let this happen again.
So far, that lesson has held.
In this case, Hamas and PIJ and their ilk must be punished. They talk of a victory that will be remembered for generations. I believe their generations – such as they may be – should only speak of the terrible, overwhelming, mistake they made. I want Israel to kill every single fighter in Gaza. This is not tit-for-tat – this is an example being made for their society. In the Torah, it is called an Arur.
If there are 130,000 militants in Gaza, then I want them all dead. If they do not yet have children, then I want them to never have generations who may honor them.
The EU calls for de-escalation. They are quite simply wrong. A crime like this cannot be carried out and then simply ignored. It must be punished and in so thorough a way that it would not be conceived of for generations to come. If you do not do this, then you encourage this sort of illness. Your society – the world’s society – will collapse into murder and mayhem.
So that is the opportunity. We lost well over a thousand innocent woman and children – and men and soldiers who wanted peace. If Israel had ever decided to engage in an act like this, millions would be dead. We do not want this – and the evidence in clear. We have never engaged in this sort of slaughter.
The world imagines a Palestinian state will bring peace, but this slaughter shows what the Palestinian powers actually want. They want an orgy of murder. They want 8 million dead Jews strewn in the streets. They are building – from the much more powerful rockets of Hezbollah to the nuclear weapons of Iran – the capability to deliver that dream.
Only this slaughter could have enabled Israel to do what needs to be done. Only this could enable Israel to suppress the sickness in Palestine – just as had to be done in Germany.
From a divine perspective, it can make sense.
From a human perspective, we cannot accept it. We can never internalize it.
We can never stop mourning.
But we must step through the door that has been opened.
If your friends or your leaders say: “I hope for an end to the conflict soon” or “I hope the fighting will stop soon” or “We hope there will be de-escalation and a cease fire” DO NOT AGREE WITH THEM.
There must be war now. There is a moral imperative to strike out this evil. And, afterwards, there can be peace. I do not hope for peace now. In a few weeks or a few months, when the followers of Hamas and PIJ are all dead – then I will want peace. Peace with an understanding that the dream of killing all the Jews will never be realized. This is not a cycle of violence, this is a closure of violence.
There is an overwhelming strand of thought that will rear its head in the weeks to come. I’ve seen it already. “The Jews are occupiers and so they deserve no protections and no safety.”
Do you know who settled Sderot – the largest city overwhelmed?
Refugees from the Arabic world.
In fact, the Muslim and Arab worlds expelled 99.5% of their Jewish populations. This is ethnic cleansing. Even the Nazis only managed 80%. Israel is a land of refugees – many from Europe but MOSTLY from the Arab and Muslim world. Communities that were thousands of years old – in Iraq, Egypt, Syria and elsewhere – were erased. Property was taken and the people expelled. They came to Israel. In Israel these same states and people hoped to finish the job. They wanted to drive the Jewish people into the Sea.
They wanted to kill all of us.
They failed. In 1948, 1967 and 1973, they failed. Today 20% of Israel is made up of Arab citizens – full citizens. There are 2 million Arabs in Israel, and 15 Jews in Egypt. Not 15 thousand, 15.
There are 2 million Arabs in Israel and 0 Jews in Iraq. Our greatest text is the Babylonian Talmud – and there are no more Babylonian Jews.
Israel is a country of refugees who organized and said “THAT IS ENOUGH.”
Well, the time has come to say it again. THAT IS ENOUGH.
It does not matter whether the Jews are occupiers or the just inhabitants of this land. We are a people who were harried and slaughtered in the years leading up to the establishment of our State – and ever since.
We are a people who have a right to live – like any other people.
We have demonstrated we will live in peace with Arabs and Muslims who will live in peace with us. We embraced peace with the UAE, Bahrain, Morocco, Jordan, Egypt and, G-d willing, with Saudi Arabia. We left Gaza so we could have peace. We left South Lebanon so we could have peace. We presented Arafat and Abu Mazen with the opportunity to have their own state. My own Constitution creates a path for Palestinian Arabs to have full rights as full citizens.
But many Palestinian Arabs, as shown over the weekend, still want our elimination. They want an orgy of murder that makes this weekend look like a blip on the radar.
We cannot allow that to happen. This is a dream that must be crushed.
I am asking you, all of you, to be our advocates.
When people say “there should be a de-escalation” or “Israel should stop” or “I wish the fighting would stop” – step out of your comfort zone and your platitudes and say “no!”
Just as a murderer cannot be allowed to walk free – because of the rot he will create in society – a murderous society cannot be allowed to slaughter without consequences.
Explain us. Explain why we are doing what we are doing. And do not take the empty moral road that will once again lead to us the Jews being made into the villains in this story. Those same villainous Jews who slaughter children to make Matzah, steal organs from prisoners and poison candies for pleasure. Don’t allow those lies to become ‘truth’.
For years Israel has been criticized for its fight against these forces. “Why shoot people who approach the border fence, they haven’t hurt anybody??” I hope the reasons behind our actions are clear now. We do not allow them pipes so they cannot make rockets. We do not allow them tractors so they cannot drive over barricades. We deprive them of so much because we know – have long known – that the orgy of murder is what they desire.
But we do not need this to be the reality in the future. We can create peace through war. At this point, there is no other way. Hamas will not become partners in anything – they are murderers who will see any weakness as proof of their power. Our lesson must be so complete that peace will be possible. And then Gaza, a beautiful place, can have tractors and skyscrapers and industry and wealth and freedom. Just like Germany and Japan.
But not yet.
You have a job to do. Advocate for us. Explain us. Support us. If you have any questions, ask me or somebody else. But do not simply abandon us as the dead militants of Gaza – and the accidental civilian deaths – pile up.
A lesson must be given and it unfortunately will come with a price. We could not distinguish the good Germans as we bombed their cities. We try, but it will be hard to distinguish the good Gazans as we do the same. The goal is not to destroy infrastructure, but terrorists.
Perhaps the Palestinians themselves will rise up against Hamas – as the Italians did against Mussolini. Then peace can arrive more quickly – if they then surrender. Or perhaps not, in which case the visions of post-war Germany – of cities flattened – will be necessary step on the road to peace. It may not deliver peace. If it does not, at least the price of slaughter will be made clear.
This is not a war between armies, this is a war between peoples. Their people wants ours erased. They must learn that this is a dream that will bring only suffering. We ask only that you stand with us as we crush those who would slaughter all of us. Then, and only then, can our peoples live side-by-side in peace.
Thank you for reading.
Yes, I know Hamas is only step 1. For the broader picture, read: The Wider War.
If you want to be added to my regular list, use my contact form.