Prof. Phyllis CheslerThe writer, a Shillman-Ginsburg Fellow at the Middle East Forum and recipient of the 2013 National Jewish Book Award, is the author of sixteen books, including Women and Madness, Woman's Inhumanity to Woman, and The New Anti-Semitism. She has written four studies about honor killing, Her latest books are An American Bride in Kabul, (Palgrave Macmillan) and Living History: On The Front Lines for Israel and the Jews.Professor Chesler may be reached at her website www.phyllis-chesler.com
First, some facts on the ground. Then, a brief Talmudic discussion of how civilized peoples are supposed to deal with someone who is “coming to kill you.”
Here’s what Israel just did: Last night, the IDF went door to door in cities in the 'West Bank' and confiscated a huge cache of weapons. Photos and a video show what they found in Nablus/Shechem, a city that has an ancient Jewish Biblical-era history. It is now a city ready for battle.
Here’s what members of the local Palestinian Arab community did: They posted anti-Jewish cartoons and posed their children giving three fingered salutes—one finger for each captured “Shalit.” And they baked cakes celebrating the kidnapping.
Here’s how Hamas sounded: Their spokesman, Mushir al-Masri, “warned the Zionists against committing any more stupidities, including their violations of international laws by their arresting of the Parliament speaker.” As of yesterday, Israel had arrested over 150 Palestinians, including the Hamas representatives in the newly formed Palestinian Unity Government. Al-Masri continued: “The resistance is the only route to freeing the (Palestinian) prisoners.” He said that he did not believe that the “lives of the three Israeli teens are actually worth “those of the 5,000 prisoners.”
What else did Israel do? The authorities cancelled visiting privileges for all Palestinian terrorist prisoners who, unlike the Israeli captives, have access to excellent medical care, other prisoners and visitors, literacy and university educations, exercise, prayer sites, and entertainment. According to Noam Shalit, Hamas kept his son, Gilad, in the dark and in isolation for five years. The Red Cross was not allowed to visit him. These privileges that Palestinian prisoners routinely enjoy will be returned when the three kidnapped boys are returned.
Israeli authorities are also considering re-incarcerating those terrorists whom they swapped out for Gilad Shalit as a dis-incentive to use kidnapping as a way of freeing terrorists with blood on their hands. Naturally, the Israeli left-wing media has condemned such measures and ideas. The Israeli Cabinet also discussed the possibility of declaring “null and void the 2011 deal which freed a thousand convicted Palestinian terrorists, including murderers, in exchange for Gilad Shalit, the soldier Hamas held hostage for five years.”
But mainly, here is what Israel has done: Both Israelis and Jews have surrounded the families of the kidnapped boys with prayers, love, food, support, and continue to stand vigil with them.
And, in response to rockets from Gaza, the IAF destroyed terrorist weapons storage targets in Gaza.
Here’s what Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah did: They froze the salaries of at least 40 Hamas members. Abbas et al are, perhaps, considering dismantling their unity pact with Hamas.
Here’s what Egypt has done: El Sisi’s Egypt assisting Israel in the search for the kidnapped boys. Egyptians are "destroying tunnels under its border with the Gaza Strip that could be used to smuggle them out." This was reported in Ha’aretz, but neither the Israelis or Egyptians would comment on this officially
Otherwise, the Arab media, both in English and Arabic, continue to refer to the Israeli captives as “settlers,” not as human beings or teenagers or civilians.
Here’s what the European Union (EU) has done: It remained absolutely silent for five days, but after PM Netanyahu “criticized” this, Chief European Foreign Policy Representative Catherine Ashton finally condemned the kidnapping. Please recall: Ashton was the diplomat who presided over the infamous Durban conference at which Jew-haters were allowed to run amuck in the name of “anti-racism.” However, she has still called upon both sides to play nicely—as if the Israeli civilian victims are morally equivalent to the Palestinian terrorists.
Here’s what the United States has done: Early on, American Secretary of State John Kerry condemned the kidnapping. President Obama has said nothing. It seems he might be considering an alliance with Iran against the Sunni Islamists in Iraq. One cannot make this up.
For millennia, Jews have been persecuted, exploited, and massacred in every country in which they once lived in Europe, the Middle East, North Africa, and central Asia. Since the early twentieth century, Jews have been massacred and attacked in the Holy Land by Arabs and, from 1948 on, subsequently attacked by Arab armies and Arab-funded anti-Zionist propaganda. Palestinians and Islamist Jihadists also attacked Israeli and Jewish people and sites in North America, South America, Europe, the Middle East, India, Africa, and the Far East by bombing Jewish centers, stabbing and shooting Jews, blowing up synagogues, etc. That’s only the Sunni Muslims. Iran, a country run by Shiite Muslims, has been calling for a genocidal war against the Jewish state ever since Khomeini took over.
These facts are in evidence.
How, then, should the Jews and the Jewish state respond?
I have been reading a very informative book by Rabbi D.B. Ganz titled Uncommon Sense: Solutions to Modern Political and Social Challenges Based on Ancient Jewish Wisdom (The Talmud). In the Biblical ook of Samuel (the prophet), King Saul’s unilateral decision to “act with compassion when the cruelty of execution was appropriate, (later led to) a great deal of cruelty.”
Rabbi Ganz gives a number of examples to illustrate this problem but then goes further. In the Talmud (tractate Shavuos 39a), the question is raised as to whether the family of someone who sins (a robber, a rapist, an idol worshipper, etc.) is also responsible for those sins and/or should also be held morally or criminally liable.
Rabbi Ganz then discussed what we might call the “bystander” or “collaborator” phenomenon. If relatives, friends, neighbors, and people in general know that such crimes are going on but do nothing to stop them—including turning in the wrong-doer; if presumably “good” men (and women) do nothing, then they, too, are empowering evil to flourish in the world. So said Edmund Burke. Rabbi Ganz writes: “Despots also require the cooperation of the army, police force, and government bureaucracies.
As such, the morals of the leader can only stray so far from the morals of the general populace. If so, when a country’s government commits well-publicized murderous acts, it is all but certain that the underlying lack of ethics was largely shared by the people of the country and their (the despot or sinner’s) families. This makes them complicit, despite not having participating in the actual wrongdoing.”
What Rabbi Ganz, his revered teacher, and their interpretation of the Talmud are saying is this: “The civilians in whose midst terrorists reside share the responsibility for their murders… and if so, the Talmudic advice, 'If one is coming to kill you, rise up and kill him' (in self-defense) applies to those civilians as well.”
Listen carefully. If one is “coming” to kill you—even if they have not yet arrived… self-defense is in order.
As we know from all the blaring headlines, social media, United Nations resolutions, and BDS campaigns (to name only a few ), the terrorists have the support of their people, their police, their leaders—and a serious global cheering squad.
I decided to ask a friend and colleague, Israeli-American Dr. Richard Landes, about his thoughts and feelings on Day Five. He said:
It is all painful and personal. Everyone knows someone who knows these boys.
One also feels helplessness in the face of this kind of mean hatred. Then, frustration, at seeing the rest of the world (New York Times, Hillary Clinton), blame us for, in trying to get (the boys back), harming the (non-existent) peace process. (This is hard) especially when they do nothing to help.
What should Israel do? Use this as a chance to really hit 'West-Bank' Hamas infrastructure hard, and press the PA to behave like mensches (decent people) and pull out of the disastrous for peace Unity Government that they engaged in recently. Good luck with that.
Perhaps we should also turn to the Talmud and consider what is says about What Must Be Done.