Blessed is the righteous judge.
This is the first order of business. We accept the horror of the Hamas murder of three innocent Israeli students: Naftali Frenkel, 16, Gilad Shaar, 16, and Eyal Yifrach, 19.
These boys did not die in vain. We have witnessed for many days now an incredible mood in the nation: a mood of unity, after so much painful dissension. A mood of prayer, even among those who do not usually pray. A mood of kindnesses and human sensitivity.
See here scenes of people gathered after learning the tragic news:
Joel K., a reader, wrote, “People from Jerusalem are going to Kikar Zion; in Tel Aviv they are congregating at Kikar Rabin. Everywhere in one central place and lighting memorial candles. Haven’t seen this kind of public mourning since Rabin was assassinated.”
We must recognize this – all of the good that has happened and is happening. We cannot lose it and must not throw it away. In the memory of those who died, we must sustain this and enhance it. Doing acts of tzedaka (“charity”), increasing Jewish study, being mindful of the need for sensitivity to others, unifying ourselves as a nation. In this way will we bring blessing to their memory. And, we are told, in this way do we elevate their souls.
I have been astounded throughout at the bravery and graciousness of the boys’ families. After they were informed of their sons’ deaths, they thanked security for all they had done, and thanked the people of Israel for their support. They stand as a model of Jewish rectitude for all the world to see. We can hold our heads high.
This said, vengeance is also necessary. I absolutely do not preclude this. Not at all.
In his statement after learning of the death of the boys, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu quoted our national poet, Haim Nahman Bialik, who wrote a poem after a 1903 pogrom, that included the words:
“Such vengeance for blood of babe and maiden hath yet to be wrought by Satan…”
“Nor,” added Netanyahu, “that of young, pure lads on their way home to meet their parents, who will not see them again. Hamas is responsible — and Hamas will pay. “
We become weak fools in the eyes of Hamas if we do not now make them pay. We become sitting ducks for what they will plan next. Especially is this so after what the prime minister has already said. If he were to fall into his habitual pattern of issuing strong words and not following through, it would be terrible.
The exact price to be extracted can be determined in discussion. We might start, for example with targeted executions of Hamas leadership in Gaza. Hamas in Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria should be totally banished. Perhaps the infrastructure of Hamas in Gaza must be severely compromised.
But the fact of the need for meaningful and tough vengeance, whatever its precise nature, should not be a topic of discussion at all.
Unfortunately, it is. We are hearing reports that the Security Cabinet met late last night and came to no determination about vengeance, with the holdouts being Livni, Lapid, and, very sadly, Ya’alon, our minister of defense. Naftali Bennett, we are being told, is furious and fighting on this. The hero of the moment, surely.
“The response currently being discussed is weak to the point of disgracefulness,” he is reported to have said.
Foreign Minister Avigdor Leiberman was out of the country when the boys were found, but he is flying back. Perhaps he will have constructive words in the next Cabinet session.
Some reports say that the decision was deliberately delayed until after the funerals, which will be in Modi’in at 5: 30 today. The boys will be buried side by side, after earlier services privately for each boy.
I do not want to take a great deal of time writing details of what is happening here, because I want this out with an appeal to you: PLEASE! write immediately to our prime minister and tell him that he must, absolutely must take strong action against Hamas.
Actually, in spite of the prime minister’s words, there is a way to see strong action against Hamas not just as “vengeance,” but also as a matter of our coming to our senses and beginning to act for our own protection. This is the responsibility of a government. For Heaven’s sake, they have stockpiled 70,000 missiles and rockets, which are aimed at us, and we let it go. Not a responsible position, for we will have to deal with it sooner or later, and it only gets worse. Their goal is to destroy us. This might be seen as a wake-up call.
Write to the prime minister at:
This must be done very quickly. He must be barraged before the next Security Cabinet meeting tonight.
This is especially important from Israeli citizens – who should identify themselves as such when writing. If you are not in Israel, and have family and friends who are, please forward this immediately. If you are in Israel, of course share as broadly as you can.
What the Shin Bet believes is that the kidnapping was originally done with the intention of demanding a trade for thousands of prisoners. But the abductors panicked and shot them. The boys, they believe, were dead within minutes after being picked up. Their bodies – now in bad shape – were brought to a field outside of Hevron, and partially buried.
As we contemplate this horror, we can only hope with all our hearts that the boys were dispatched quickly and did not suffer.
The abductors are still at large and being sought. But the point here is that they acted on orders from above.
Hamas is nervous about what we may do next, as is the PA. Abbas is asking the world to restrain us.
“Restraint” is, actually, the key word internationally. How sad, say leaders, but Israel, watch what you do in response. This was certainly the message from the White House.
And so, if you are in the US, give strong voice to our right to defend ourselves. Expose the evil that we face day in and day out.
Criticize the president for not taking a significant role in this in spite of the fact that Naftali Frenkel is a US citizen – something he never alludes to at all (something he would prefer not be known).
One last word here: As a form of vengeance, large scale building in Judea and Samaria and all of Jerusalem is being discussed. This irks me greatly. Not because the building should not be done. Of course it should!! But it is not vengeance, for Heaven’s sake.
It is our RIGHT, legally and morally and historically. To represent it as only a punishment sends the wrong message to the world and further weakens us.
© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by Arlene Kushner, functioning as an independent journalist. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution.
If it is reproduced and emphasis is added, the fact that it has been added must be noted.