Recently everyone seemed to be enthralled with the story of a wedding in Israel in which celebrants shouted "Death to the Arabs" while brandishing weapons. Much anguish was aired across the press, both print and electronic, about this occurence. As is common in the right wing National Religious community, there was much chest thumping and declarations of guilt. How could this have happened? Isn't it terrible? Isn't the National Religious community terrible by association? The outrage was so strong that Rav Avi Shafran wrote a hack piece assuring us that, in fact, the Chareidi community had no connection to any terrorism or violence within the Jewish religous world. (Pause for laughter)
While I certainly do not condone the actions of the celebrants or share their desire for open hatred of the Arabs in Israel, I would like to note something amidst all the wailing.
Yosef Trumpeldor was killed when he was 40 years old by Arabs back in 1920. Ninetyfive years ago Arabs decided to kill a Jew not because he was occupying their supposed homeland because at that time Israel was occuped and ruled by the British and before them the Turks. He was killed because he was a Jew that wished to live in the land of Israel and for the Arab community that was unacceptable. No Israel, no occupation, just a small number of Jews trying to build a community and that was enough to invite death. Ninetyfive years ago.
Since then it is impossible to count the number of attacks against Jews committed by Arabs in Israel. How many people killed while riding the bus or walking on the street? How many infants and children? How many elderly? How many gunned down while observing Jewish rituals?
And each time, if Israel, or its pre-State equivalent, dared to respond to remind the Arabs that Jewish blood isn't cheap, how many calls of condemnation or accusations of disproportionate response and war crimes?
Today in the so-called Palestinian Authority along with its sidekick Hamastan in 'Aza we are treated to daily calls by various political and religious officials to kill the Jews and wipe out Israel. A major national or religious gathering isn't complete without the requisite Itbach al Yahud!. (Kind of makes Lubavitcher meshichistim seem so benign, yes?) But one wedding where Jews do the same and suddenly we are facing demands for a cheshbon hanefesh! Our community is out of control!
One wedding against thousands (if not more) of similar acts on the other side. We consign such views to the extremist fringe while they make them mainstream and extol their virtue. Is there any comparison between us and them?
We have a further enemy within, happy to make unbalanced biased films in which a small group of settlers with a violent agenda are portrayed as the influential guides of the entire Jewish community of Shomron and Yehudah with the Arabs as innocent victims. In the finest style of German World War 2 propaganda we are shown the ugly Jew and his insatiable appetite for causing the suffering of others.
We are accused of occupying Yehudah and Shomron as if there was no Jewish presence there until 1948 when the invading Arab Legion of Transjordan ethnically cleansed the area. We are accused of wanting to regain possession of our holiest site of worship from squatters who act as if we have no connection to it. These are the crimes we are accused of.
So let me say that yes: we are guilty of those charge. I don't call for violence against the Arabs of Israel. I don't want people going out and shooting innocents, adults or children. Don't burn their olive tree groves or vandalize their mosques. Such acts are not those of civilized people and if we truly embrace God's Torah then we must be civilized people. Is it frustrating? Yes. Is it fair? No. But until Moshiach Tzidkeinu arrives and properly reapportions the land, removing the foreign element, it is a suffering that we must endure as galus ends.
We do not need to be suckers or helpless victims but the Torah demands of us that we remember our holiness and not let our zeal degrade our piety into fanatic barbarism.