The massacre in Har Nof was no different from any other massacre carried out against Jews in Ukraine. There, too, rioters raided shuls and murdered mispallelim wrapped in tallisos and tefillin with butcher knives. But they always said that it happened because there was no state. So what happened Tuesday? Maybe the problem is the state?
I don’t know what photos you keep on your work desk.
For many years, sitting on my desk is a dreadful illustration of Cossacks slaughtering Jews during the pogroms of 1648-49, Tach Vetat, a bit less than 400 years ago. The illustration was drawn by a Jew, a survivor of the pogroms, which were considered to be the worst acts of murder against Jews until the Nazi Holocaust. In the illustration, the Cossacks, dispatched by Bogdan Chmielnicki, burst into a shul and murdered all the people inside, wrapped in tallis and tefillin, with Jewish blood flowing freely to the floor.
Yesterday morning, I returned to the murderous steppes of Ukraine. Maybe to Kishinev.
A bit after seven in the morning, while I was still in shul, my phone vibrated in my pocket. I continued listening to the shaliach tzibbur repeating Shemoneh Esrei and ignored my phone—also because I didn’t want to be confronted by the gabbai, who is known to confiscate ringing phones. After a few minutes, my pocket vibrated again, and I continued to ignore it. But the third time, during Aleinu, I went outside and that was when I learned of the horrific drama unfolding at those very moments in Har Nof.
I managed to get into the building for two minutes. Zaka personnel and police were busy fulfilling their obligations.
The scene of the massacre in the Ukraine, which I have been looking at for years, rose in my mind. I thought of hundreds of communities that were decimated during the pogroms of 1648-49. Some one hundred thousand Jews were slaughtered, Hy”d. Tens of thousands were caught and sold as slaves, or forcibly baptized. Many others were victims of constant harassment, abuse and murder.
“It happened because there was no state then,” the political leaders of Israel and its founders always said. Yesterday morning, in front of my eyes, in the Yerushalmi neighborhood of Har Nof, that thesis was shattered to smithereens. The Arab Cossacks came with the same axes and knives that Chmielnicki’s men used, and slaughtered people wrapped in their tallis and tefillin. The haters of our nation have not changed. Once, they spoke Russian and Ukrainian. Later, it was German. Today, it is Arabic.
On paper, there is apparently a state. In reality, I did not see it. Certainly not yesterday morning, nor a week ago, or a month ago or two months ago. And in general. And a state that fails on the one hand to deter and on the other hand to prevent two Cossacks today raises questions whether it will be able to stop hundreds and thousands of rioters tomorrow.
Murderous Muslim terror has collaborators among Israeli Arabs and Israeli citizens. These collaborators are all those who try to find with a magnifying glass the reasons on which to blame everything that is happening here on the Jewish, Israeli side.
In the seventh century, or more accurately, in 624, Mohammed, the founder of Islam, instructed the followers of his new religious ways to break into the shul in the city of Al Medinah with axes and knives, and to kill the Jewish worshippers, from the Nachir tribe. The massacre began in the home of the Jewish leader in the city, Chaab ben Alasharaf, Hy”d. His Muslim neighbors knocked at his door, and when he emerged, they beheaded him and took the head to Mohammed. A few hours later, they broke into the shul. Dozens of Jews were murdered. Hundreds more were injured.
Was there a Jewish state then? Were there Arabs in the Gaza Strip who were “blockaded” by the Jews? Not one of these. Muslim anti-Jewish terror is ingrained in the Muslims for the past 1,400 years, without any connection to the groundless and frivolous claims aired by all those who find empty things to blame us for, for example, that we are preventing metal and cement from entering Gaza (for use in creating tunnels)and that is what is causing an intifada.
“Yado bakol — His hand is against everyone,” is what was foretold about Yishmael long before all the excuses existed. Dancing on Jewish blood and distributing sweets in public upon hearing news of Jewish deaths is also not new. And it says a lot about those who do so.
The terrorist does not get up in the morning, take down his axe from his storage closet and travel to western Yerushalayim incidentally. He comes with his axe, infused with a clear mission. He chose this target because it is a familiar one to him. Because he works there, or once did. He knows when Shacharis begins in the local shtieblach, or anywhere else. He is familiar with the entrances and exits to the shuls and yeshivos because he cleans there, or cleaned there in the past, and if not there, he certainly has worked in the local grocery. He comes with a goal—to kill, murder, slaughter.
He works, perhaps alone, on his specific incident, but he is part of a chain of thousands of other terrorists who are instructed, guided and funded from the outside. They all live under the same cloak of inciteful education that envelops their children from elementary school to the institutes of higher learning, in the media and at the mosques. And in all these places you will hear the reasons justifying why the Jew is deserving of being killed. The reasons make no difference, because they are irrelevant. The murderer came to murder. Period.
Why were Jews murdered in Baghdad? And why did it happen in Cairo, Damascus and in hundreds of other places around the world, long before the idea of a Jewish state was even conceived? Because murder is a direct product of the Palestinian worldview, which perceives the Jew as the enemy. An enemy that needs to be fought, at all times and in any way. He needs to be murdered. And it makes no difference who he is, a child or an adult, man or woman.
For political and international reasons, and under pressure by American and European friends and others, the Palestinian leadership is trying to don the skin of a sheep and present itself as flexible and open to compromise, while they have remained wolves that ransack the vineyards.
Had the Palestinian statesman asked, in whatever way, to speak to Israel, and to reach an agreement with it, the right wording for an agreement would have long been found. But he didn’t want. And he won’t even admit it, in public. Because the true objective of the Palestinian operation is not to share land with Israel, but to take its place. And that will never happen.
What have the current politicians done since the new intifada began? Nothing. How many houses were destroyed? Sealed up? How many rioters were deported? How many rioters who were proven without a doubt to be guilty had their benefits taken away? Not a single house has been razed, no benefits have been taken away from even one family. Because we continue to boast about being a law-abiding country controlled by a justice system. And there, they have not yet approved the razing of the houses. And certainly not the other steps. So what, if so, is the prime minister talking about when he says that he “ordered the houses razed?” Who is he to order? Is he the lawyer from the state prosecutor’s office, who, just two months ago, accumulated even more power when she directed the pilots where they were allowed to drop bombs and where they were not, and now he will take from her those powers?
So what if all the measures mentioned here are civil, without any shooting or murder? They can still contribute to a shift in the trend, albeit cannot put a stop to it.
And in order to stop the murderous activities of those inhuman beings who carried out the attack Tuesday in Har Nof, two days before in Bais Yisrael, and in other places before that, the government of Israel has to stop being busy with trying to survive and has to begin taking action. And as long as no action is taken, things are liable to deteriorate even further. Even after Tuesday’s massacre, let’s not delude ourselves into thinking we’ve hit bottom.
The politicians are not getting to the root of the problem the country is facing. Another one thousand officers here, another order to increase security there, won’t change anything. A state whose leaders have lost control can and must do one of two things: change direction or go home. The situation cannot remain the way it is, certainly not after Tuesday’s heinous act. It had to stop after the murder of the baby last month, after the run-in attacks. After the stabbings.
Israel must announce that it will not capitulate to terror and to those who think that terrorist pressure will make it fall to its knees. There are enough Israeli politicians who lend a tailwind to these sentiments, with their declarations that not responding to the demands of terrorists to return to the negotiating table so we can give in to all their demands is the cause of everything that is happening.
What happened Tuesday in Har Nof has to be, as far as Israel is concerned, the turning point that the massacre at the Park Hotel in Netanya was at the time. After that, the entire IDF launched the biggest operation in its history while not actually going to war. And it stopped the terror, for years.
If there is a state here, can it please stand up and report itself present?
And whether there is or isn’t, we will remain with our tefillos, as we have always done. Ki L’Hashem Hayeshuah.