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      Op-Ed: Our Response to the Mercaz Massacre

      Published: Friday, March 28, 2008 1:05 AM
      The Jewish State must do more.


      On March 5, 1770, a British regiment shot and killed five American colonialists in what became known as "the Boston Massacre." The massacre became a rallying cry to revolution against the British, even though what had taken place was not really a massacre, but acts of self-defense against a violent mob that taunted: "Fire and be damned!"
      The very idea of a massacre of unarmed civilians by British soldiers riled Americans to fight.
       
      Although ultimately proved false, the very idea of a massacre of unarmed civilians by British soldiers riled Americans to fight to be free of the British. The fledgling American nation had a right to defend itself against massacres.
       
      The right of a nation to defend itself against an aggressor is a lesson that the Jewish nation has been taught particularly well by the harsh stick of exile. As soon as we were able, we therefore organized ourselves to declare our own emancipation from the yoke of the nations. With a Jewish state and a Jewish army to protect and avenge us, never again would a Jew be stricken like a slave, with no defense, no recourse and no just consequence being meted out to the assailant.

      The response of the current Jewish government to the Mercaz HaRav massacre - the brutal slaying of unsuspecting children in the eternal capital of our people - agreeing to a ceasefire or "lull" in violence with those ultimately responsible, thus defies the logic of its own existence.

      Following a war of terror that lasted several years, the members of this government, in the name of peace, led an assault on their own citizenry, expropriating their property, homes, livelihoods and communities without just compensation. Our enemies responded with kidnappings and a torrent of indiscriminate rockets, which has lasted two years. Now, after the Mercaz massacre, the government continues in its policy of active inaction, proving once and for all the maxim that Jewish blood is cheap.
       
      The confrontation between the victims and their community and Education Minister Yuli Tamir was a continuance of this policy. While a visit by an education minister to an educational institution where there was a tragedy sounds normal, Tamir is infamous for cutting funding to religious schools like Mercaz HaRav, while allowing Palestinians to label Independence Day as al-Nakba (the catastrophe) in their textbooks.
       
      Furthermore, the government and Tamir know that the religious community views Tamir as a symbol of those complicit in terror attacks like the massacre, because they have given and continue to give the terrorists money, weapons, moral support and diplomatic legitimacy. This, in turn, allows the terrorists to get money and guns from other countries.
       
      Tamir was therefore asked not to come to the yeshiva in its time of mourning. When she came anyway, angry students yelled insults at her and spat on her, and she claims she was kicked in the back. Their anger and actions were both understandable and predictable, if not rational and advisable.
       
      But the government's declared policy was far more shameful.
       
      Immediately after the massacre, Mark Regev, a spokesman for Ehud Olmert, called the massacre "a defining moment" and Olmert denied that there were any negotiations with Hamas.
       
      Despite these statements, the security officials confirmed to the press the existence of an agreement for a lull in violence between Israel and Hamas. Olmert has denied this, but as yet there has been no appropriate retaliation for the massacre.
       
      Israel has continued in its policy of restraint and concessions as if the massacre, as well as the continuous bombardment of Israel's south, never happened.
       
      Though Olmert claims to be following the policies of his predecessor Ariel Sharon, Sharon's response to the 2002 Passover Massacre was to send troops into the terror stronghold of Jenin. By 2003, Sharon had put a halt to
      The Mercaz massacre has not even dented the Olmert government's ghetto mentality.
      Palestinian terror.
       
      In the 1970s and early '80s, when the PLO bombarded Israel's north and carried out attacks similar to the Mercaz massacre, Israel, under Menachem Begin, responded with a war that destroyed the PLO's infrastructure in southern Lebanon. Even though the results of the Lebanon war are disputed, it was necessary for Israel to respond to Palestinian barbarity.
       
      Unlike the effect of prior massacres on the Sharon and Begin governments, however, the Mercaz massacre has not even dented the Olmert government's ghetto mentality.
       
      Rabbis at Mercaz HaRav have compared the massacre to the 1929 Arab riots, in which Arabs murdered, raped, pillaged and plundered the Jews of Hebron in order to prevent Jews from erecting a partition at the Kotel so they could pray there, and from establishing the Jewish State at all.
       
      The Yishuv responded to the riots by asking Rabbi Avraham Ytitzchak HaKohen Kook - father of modern religious Zionism and the founder and namesake of Mercaz HaRav - to sanction giving up the Jewish right to the Kotel in order to appease the Arabs. Of course, Rabbi Kook did the opposite by proclaiming the Jewish right to sovereignty over the Kotel and Eretz Yisrael before a League of Nations investigating committee.
       
      In the pre-state era, Arab attacks on Jews were rampant. The Haganah and the Yishuv's policy was one of havlagah, "self-restraint." They acted similarly towards the British declaration, in the form of a White Paper on the eve of the Holocaust, that Jewish immigration to Palestine would be limited a maximum of 75,000 people spread over a five-year period. David Ben-Gurion's response was that we "would fight the war as if there was no White Paper and fight the White Paper as if there was no war."
       
      Israel's policy today is the same one of restraint. Olmert even told the residents of Ashkelon that Israel's situation "demands restraint." But this 90-year-old defeatist policy of the Left is no longer acceptable.
       
      In the midst of talk of civil war, we left Gaza, but the enemy still fires missiles at the kindergartners of Sderot. The prime minister talks of giving up Judea and Samaria as well, yet the enemy points their AK-47s at the yeshiva students in Jerusalem.
       
      The government is deaf to the sounds of rockets and bullets, as well as to the cries of the victims. It directs its fury not at the murderers, but at the massacre's survivors and their community, and at religious Zionism itself. It deals with the Arabs as if there was no terror, and deals with terror as if there are no Arabs.

      The prime minister also said we should get used to Kassam rockets. Olmert's disgraced former chief of staff, Dan
      At least we can control how we respond.
      Halutz, similarly said, "There will always be some terrorist to fire a missile." Leaving aside that this is not a case of a single missile or attack by some free radical every few years, but a barrage of premeditated attacks, let us momentarily concede that they are correct. Perhaps we will never have ultimate security, as we cannot control every Palestinian. But at least we can control how we respond to these acts of murder.

      Today, the Jewish State must do more to protect Jews than the Mandatory British government did. In response to the barbaric massacre in the capital of Israel, the government must do more than to conduct further negotiations. Surely, a state with one of the most powerful armies in the world can do more to protect and avenge its citizens than the under-armed and underground Jewish armies of the Mandate era.