On the day that we no longer know how to weep, we will have lost our humanity.
Ori Ansbacher, 19, was a resident of Tekoa in Gush Etzion. She was doing a year of national service at a youth center in Jerusalem.
On Thursday, Ori was reported missing. Ultimately, her body was found in the nature reserve at Ein Yael not far from Jerusalem’s Biblical Zoo. It quickly became clear that this was a terrorist murder ‒ irritatingly referred to as having “nationalist motivations.”
It didn’t take long to capture the terrorist. Utilizing solid forensic evidence found at the scene, the police were able to apprehend him in Ramallah late Friday. A 29-year old Palestinian Arab from Hevron, he had been seen leaving home with knives in his possession. Security forces holding him now say he has confessed; there are reports of his association with Hamas.
The funeral was held on Friday in Tekoa.
Ori’s mother, Na’ah Ansbacher, spoke to the media on Saturday night:
“Ori was beautiful on the outside and the inside. A gentle soul…
“She loved this land so much…when she walked this land with confidence this kind of evil came and took her away from us.
“She wanted to fix the world, she spoke a lot about compassion, how much she wanted to be compassionate.”
And so, here it is again. Again! How often I have observed that the ones taken from us by terror are beautiful, special people. I do not begin to understand it. I only know it is so.
But these special people do not arise from a vacuum. They come, it often seems, from parents who are themselves special souls.
This is what Na’ah Anshbacher now asks of us: To carry out acts of kindness in order to “add light to the world” in memory of her daughter.
“I ask from those who are listening to us and for whom our words are entering their hearts, to do one small thing to add light to the world — one act of kindness…
“Ori was a child of light, adding so much light in the world. She cured broken hearts wherever she went…”
I stand in awe of this woman, who speaks with love and compassion, and without bitterness.
One act of kindness, my friends.
Sadly, there is yet another reason for tears.
Siwar Keblawi was a 20-year old Israel Arab from Umm al-Fahm, a city in the Galil that is a hotbed of Hamas-associated radicalism.
She fled from her home after being threatened in the course of what the media has called a “family dispute.” To refer to what transpired as a “dispute” is a gross understatement. She would not have run to Turkey, to live with her father, because of a “dispute.” Reportedly, she was being held in her Umm al-Fahm home against her will.
Siwar apparently thought she was safe in Turkey, but she was mistaken: Her brother pursued her there early last week, and her father (perhaps fully apprised by his son of his daughter’s “sins”) conspired with him in her murder. Turkish police are holding both for strangling her.
Sinwar’s funeral was also on Friday.
This was almost certainly an “honor killing.” Palestinian Arabs are part of the honor/shame culture. When a female member brings “shame” upon a family – perhaps by sleeping with her boyfriend or dating someone “unacceptable” – then killing her is thought to restore family “honor.”
We must cry for the cruelty that was inflicted upon Sinwar and for her wasted life.
But I believe it is time, as well, to shine a light on the progressives (notably in the US) who turn a blind eye to what is done to women such as Sinwar Keblawi: to hold them accountable for their hypocrisy and their moral obtuseness.
It is not politically correct to criticize Palestinian Arabs. Beginning and end of the story. I’ve known this for many years, of course. Progressives who claim to support “women’s rights” won’t speak out about female genital mutilation either. They demonstrate a very narrow vision of which women have rights.
And right now there is increased reason to be distressed by what progressives in the US are supporting.
In New York State there is a new, liberalized abortion law that permits abortion to 24 weeks, which is well past the point of viability. This law – allowing a mother to “dispose” of a fetus that is already capable of living outside the womb – was widely celebrated by progressives because of a woman’s “inviolable rights” to “reproductive freedom.”
I see this as a moral regression and I grieve for what America is at risk of becoming.
Social commentator Bruce Thorton describes this situation as part of the “MORAL IDIOCY of OUR TIMES: How leftist political degeneracy leads to civilizational collapse” (emphasis added):
“One of the foundational myths of modernity holds that the progress of scientific knowledge and technology has been accompanied by moral progress. As wealth and knowledge increase, the old impediments to moral improvement such as poverty, religious superstition, and ignorance are being swept away, resulting in a kinder, gentler, and more pacific human nature.
“Last week we were presented with evidence that this argument is woefully mistaken…
“…infanticide, once a practice of savage and barbaric cultures…has now been legalized by the culture that boasts of its moral progress and superiority. But this legislation is…a species of moral idiocy much worse than the savagery of the past.
“Abortion and infanticide in the past had practical and religious purposes…
“As horrific as such practices were, they made religious sense to the peoples who performed them…
“But to what god are we, who fancy ourselves morally superior and products of reason and science, legalizing the sacrifice of a baby able to live outside the womb at 22 weeks?”
And here Thorton comes to the heart of the matter: The god is “choice,” he says, but it is a very limited and self-absorbed definition of “choice”:
“…this ‘choice’ seems to be a strange deity, one that is indifferent to the non-negotiable corollary of choice –– responsibility for one’s freely chosen behavior and its consequences. True freedom cannot exist without people taking responsibility, and holding themselves accountable, for their choices. To sacrifice a human life…in order to avoid the consequences of one’s careless choice and to serve one’s own convenience, is moral idiocy.”
Dr. Thorton is a fellow with the Hoover Institution and a professor of humanities at California State University.
Here in Israel, thankfully, we will not see this sort of abortion legislation.
But something else is going on in the political sphere that is also distressing. In its own way, it too smacks of self-absorption. Humility is a trait that is all too uncommon, as is the notion of working for the greater good rather than the good of one’s own party, or oneself. (Of course, each individual who works on behalf of his/her party or his/her own political future is convinced that this is what is best for the nation.)
I’ve discussed this in several respects, but right now have concern with regard to the right wing.
Likud is showing well in the polls – with something like 32 mandates (it varies a bit according to the day and the poll), it is leading all other parties by a good margin. And so, Binyamin Netanyahu is probably on his way to remaining prime minister.
What remains of concern is the question of who would join his coalition. Those of us who see it as critical that there be a right-wing nationalist coalition are watching the situation carefully and with unease. Bennett’s warnings about a Netanyahu-Gantz coalition are not without some rationale.
The New Right of Bennett and Shaked, showing eight mandates in the polls, would join in the coalition. After this, it gets shaky, for there are a number of small right-wing nationalist parties and even center-right parties that might not pass the threshold (which is 3.25% of all votes, or four mandates).
What is required is a reasoned merger of lists, and this is not happening.
It had been widely assumed that Habayit Hayehudi (Jewish Home), headed now by Rabbi Rafi Peretz, would merge with National Union, headed by Bezalel Smotrich. These parties had merged before. But all talks are now frozen.
According to Smotrich, there had been an agreement struck on Friday between the two parties, but that when they met after Shabbat, Peretz reneged.
Reportedly, Habayit Hayehudi – although weakened because of the pullout of Bennett and Shaked – declared it would go it alone. This seems unlikely, as it would run the risk of not passing the threshold. More likely is the possibility of another deal, which might better serve Habayit Hayehudi but not necessarily the interests of the right wing more broadly.
Smotrich declared an intention to keep trying to achieve a broad list.
This situation, which is still fluid, will play out by later in February, when all lists must be presented.
Among the very small parties to the right that still have not announced list mergers: Otzma Yehudit (Jewish Strength) with attorney Itamar Ben-Givir, Baruch Marzel, Bentzion Gupstein and Dr. Michael Ben-Ari; Moshe Feiglin’s Zehut (Identity); and Eli Yeshai’s Yahad (Together), founded after his break with Shas.
There is a theory circulating that Gantz is not actually as popular as he appears in his own right, but rather because people are tired of Netanyahu and eager for an alternative. Douglas Altbef cogently addresses this concern in “’Anyone but Bibi’ might not be the best way to pick our next prime minister” (emphasis added):
“…Ultimately, this is not about Gantz. And in truth, we know very little about how Gantz would steer the ship of state.
“This is all about Benjamin Netanyahu. To put it mildly, a seemingly (so far) unobjectionable alternative has shone a light on Bibi-fatigue…
“The occupational hazard of a citizenry is ingratitude. There is the famous Ajax Syndrome. Ajax, a Greek god, was importuned against his will to save the world. Once he did, he was cast aside.
Most recently, this syndrome was exemplified by Winston Churchill, who having played an irreplaceable role in steering England through the treacheries of WWII, was forced out of office shortly thereafter. The current case of Bibi-fatigue is not quite so dramatic, neither for the role Bibi has played nor for the consequences, at least as of now. But there is something in the current search for an alternative that seems to willingly put aside the achievements and accomplishments of the prime minister.
“Electing a prime minister is not like finding suitor or casting a movie. ‘Go get me a guy who looks like a leader and doesn’t say much,’ might get someone through the door, but what happens the day after the vote?
“…I have a good frame of reference to appreciate Israel’s standing in the world, and I have a pretty good sense of how our economy is doing, and where it needs improvement. As an immigrant, I am probably not as imbued with ‘general worship’ as are many Israelis. I know that the skill set for being a successful general is not necessarily the same as that needed for being a successful statesman…
“As a native American, I well know that Ulysses S. Grant, the savior of the Union in the Civil War, went on to become one of the very worst-regarded presidents of the United States.
“This isn’t junior high school. It’s not a popularity contest. It’s about serving in one of the world’s most challenging jobs.
“What we don’t want is to wake up after the election with voters’ remorse and ask ourselves, ‘What was I thinking? What are we going to do now?’
“…Sometimes, we want to hold our noses when we vote. Fair enough.
“But let’s make sure we’re not cutting off the air supply to our brains.”
© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by independent journalist Arlene Kushner. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution.