Sunday, July 23, 2017

Savage Murderers and What to Do About Them

ZAKA at the site of a Halamish terror attack
It’s impossibly hard! Impossibly hard to see pictures in the aftermath of the terrorist slaughter of a 70-year-old grandfather and his son and daughter.  I cannot imagine the violent slaughter  that took place resulting in these kinds of pictures. There is no excuse for the kind of violence that took place here. None whatsoever!

These victims of unimaginable terror were sitting in their homes at a Shalom Zachor – the traditional Friday night celebration welcoming a newborn onto this earth prior to his circumcision later that week. This peaceful loving and joyous event that all Orthodox Jews celebrate turned into the kind of terror that is difficult to even imagine let alone experience.

The victims: Yosef, Chaya, and Elad Salomon  (Aish)
Why did this happen? There is no way of knowing for sure. But terrorist attacks like this usually have a precursor event. This time I have to lay the blame right at the doorstep of Mahmoud Abbas who called for a day of rage in response to the installation of metal detectors on the Temple Mount (Har HaBayis).

How in Heaven’s name increasing security at a site holy to both Judaism and Islam calls for a day of rage escapes me. But the Arabs surely felt it did. They say it is humiliating to Palestinians who come there to pray there - to go through a security check.

I understand why they might feel that way based on my own personal experience at O’Hare. Earlier this year I was randomly pulled from my TSA pre-check line and was treated practically like a terrorist until they realized I wasn’t. But I was actually quite pleased with what happened because it assured me that the TSA was doing their job – protecting passengers.

Any normal person would - I think - react the way I did. You put up with some occasional and random inconvenience – even a bit of humiliation - in exchange for security.

Not the Palestinians. Had they just complained about it - that would be one thing. It is understandable to complain about something like that. But to call for a day of rage in reaction to it is irrational and irresponsible. Especially knowing the history of such events - which often result in the kind terrorist slaughter that happened last Friday night.

The installations of metal detectors did not happen precipitously. It was in reaction to a terrorist attack right on the Temple Mount where 2 Israeli police officers were killed. Ironically they were not even Jewish. They were Druze Arabs that were there to enforce the peace. They were shot and killed. Had metal detectors been there, it wouldn’t have happened.

A lot of people are saying that Israel ought to stick to their guns and leave the metal detectors in place. I have to admit that this thought certainly crossed my mind. Israel should not allow itself to be intimidated. Protecting its citizens should be their number one priority. The question then becomes what is the best way to do that? What can Israel do right now to best protect its citizens with respect to the Temple Mount?

As I’ve said many times. Har HaBayis is not really in our hands. It is in the hands of Muslim clerics. As long as there is a Mosque up there that Muslims consider the 2nd holiest site in Islam, that will continue to be the case.

I say this with a heavy – but realistic heart. Especially now that we are about to embark on a 9 day period of mourning for the destruction of the 1st and 2nd Temples on this very site. This is the place we Jews constantly pray to be returned to us so that the 3rd Temple can be built. And although it was captured by Israel in 1967 to the great joy and pride of the vast majority of Jews at the time (including me) -  General Mota Gur’s declaration that Har HaBayis B’Yadenu (the Temple Mount is in our hands) was not a realistic declaration. It is not in our hands. Technically, sure. It is in our (Israel’s) jurisdiction. But as a practical matter, it is still in Muslim hands. That is the reality.

There are many reasons for Jews not to go up there. One is the general prohibition for Jews that are ritually impure (which is the presumption of all Jews in our day) to alight on the Temple mount. They (we) cannot be made pure enough without the ashes of Para Aduma (the Red Heifer).  While there are areas that one may technically alight up there, many Poskim are opposed to it. There is no Halachic benefit to going up there. It might be psychologically or spiritually uplifting. But that is about it.

There are those who say that going up there demonstrates our sovereignty over Har Habayis. In my view that is delusional. Muslim feelings about their rights are not diminished one iota by such things. What does happen is that it incites them toward violence. Any move by Israel in that direction does that – as was demonstrated  once again by the savage murders Friday night in a day of rage declared by Abbas. 

And yet they insist that stopping Jews from going up to the Temple Mount capitulates to terrorism . Perhaps they believe we should even increase our presence there. But I could not disagree more.

In my view Israel ought to deal with the reality that the Temple Mount is not in our hands. This does not mean giving up jurisdiction. But it does mean keeping Jews safe by preventing them from going up there. There is no Halachic reason to go up there now in our time. Especially since it incites the Arabs.

That is not capitulating. This is common sense and is in line with what many Poskim advise anyway. If Arabs don’t want Israeli protection there, that is fine with me.  Now if it were a Halachic requirement to go up there, I would say Israel had a duty to protect us there. But since it is not, we ought to back off entirely until the messianic era.

And then there are those who do their level best to incite the Arabs every time something like this happens. Like what some settlers decided to do in response to that massacre last Friday night. They thought it was a good idea to create a new outpost on the West Bank in to honor the victims. That’s like finding out that smoking causes cancer and dealing with it by smoking even more.

They have the right to feel that way. But not at the expense of inciting more bloodshed.
Of course implementing this idea will not solve the Israeli Palestinian conflict. There will still be terrorism on occasion. The root causes will still be there. Which is over a century of indoctrination of their people to hate us. Many generations of it! The real solution to the problem is to change that paradigm. 

Until that happens, nothing will change. But that doesn’t mean we can’t deal with a specific situation that arises and reduce the possibility of increased violence because of it.

Israel has an obligation to do just that. Eliminating the metal detectors ought to be accompanied by following the Poskim that forbid Jews from going up there altogether. Making it the law of the land until the advent of Moshiach.