Another hour and a half and it will be Shabbat. The Sabbath starts early this time of the year.
I’ve been thinking back. A week ago today I was in New York, staying with friends in Queens, getting ready for our annual Hebron Fund dinner. Shabbat there was very pleasant; a quiet and holy atmosphere, nice people, and of course, great food.
Saturday morning I spoke in a neighborhood synagogue. The people were very warm and the Rabbi’s introduction almost left me with little to say. But, spokespeople, as it goes, always have something to say, and so I did. But the ‘interesting’ part of the prayer service, as far as I was concerned, wasn’t my speech. Rather it was what the wise Rabbi mentioned to me after my ‘aliyah,’ making the blessings over a portion of the Torah reading.
According to Jewish law, when a person has survived a ‘dangerous event’ he or she recites a special blessing of thanksgiving, called “HaGomel.” Plane trips, being over a great distance, also require recitation of this blessing, upon arrival at one’s destination, when receiving an ‘aliyah.’ So following the final blessing over the Torah portion, I dutifully repeated that particular blessing, thanking G-d for my safe arrival in New York.
When I returned to my seat and shook hands with the Rabbi, smiling he said: “you, who live in Hebron, and walk the streets of Hebron every day – here in New York you have to give thanks to G-d for your safety!?
That certainly is an interesting way to view our lives, and in truth, we don’t even pay attention to that thought of ‘walking the streets of Hebron’ and the seeming ‘dangers’ involved. After all, that’s our life.
Last week in New York, and yesterday, ‘covering’ a terrorist attack at the entrance to Kiryat Arba, at the gas station where I fill up every time my tank gets thirsty. An Arab stepped out of a taxi, holding a knife, and according to some reports, also an axe, starting screaming, not ‘HaGomel,’ rather Allah HuAkbar – and started slashing. Only true Divine miracle prevented anyone from being killed.
That kind of event brings a person back to ‘everyday reality’ very quickly.
But, thinking back is not only yesterday or last week. This Shabbat, exactly seven years ago, three terrorists attacked Jews outside the south gate of Kiryat Arba, leaving 12 dead, including 3 civilians from Kiryat Arba’s emergency squad, and nine officers and soldiers, among them, Col. Dror Weinberg, commander of the Judea Brigade, the highest ranking officer killed during the “Oslo War,” aka the 2nd intifada. Thinking about, not only those men we lost, but the bravery of those who stood and fought, and finally killed the terrorists, still sends chills down my spine. Several of those heroes are from Hebron, but the person I remember most was a Druze officer name Siach, who drove over two and a half hours from his home in the north of Israel to Hebron to take part in the mission. Arriving and hearing that the last terrorist was still hiding on the roof of a house, he climbed up by himself, all alone, and faced off with the terrorist, killing him before the Arab killed him. Courage and faith so strong; it’s beyond my human comprehension.
And yet, with the terror, past and present, we continue to live ‘normal lives.’ The dinner last week on Saturday night at Citi Field in Flushing Meadows was a tremendous success, and in some ways, even an answer to terror. How so?
I don’t just measure the success only in terms of dollars and cents, or number of people attending. Of course, both are important; that cannot be denied. And in these respects I think the event was also successful. However, at least this year, success had another aspect – that being, the very fact that dinner took place, where it took place. American and Israel left wing organizations, Jewish and Arab, worked very hard to have the event cancelled. They wrote letters to the NY Mets, owners of Citi Field, initiated media events and protests, demanding that the event not take place, at least not at the home of the Mets. Newspaper and internet accounts, in Israel and in New York, were publicized.
To no avail. The Mets and the major league baseball commissioner refused to kowtow to these cowardly demands, and this is, in my opinion, part of the overwhelming success of the event.
It would be nice to see others, especially here in Israel, learn from the Mets, and refuse to accede to these types of terror. Like maybe our own Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu?! Last night minister Limor Livnat stated in no uncertain terms that the Israeli government has fallen on ‘an awful American administration’ and that the Prime Minister is going through heavy hardships and is ‘under a lot of pressure’ from the Obama administration.
So, what to do? To stand up, as did a soldier yesterday who shot the axe-wielding terrorist, and as did Siach 7 years ago and say “NO” – we will not accept this, and do something about it, or to cave in, to surrender, to declare a ‘construction freeze’ and again acquiesce to diplomatic terror?
I know what the answer is, as did those 12 men seven years ago, who gave their lives for Am Yisrael, for the people of Israel. As did all the people who today filled up their tanks at that same gas station where yesterday an Arab wounded two, attempting to murder them. You cannot run away, you cannot hide your head in the sand, you cannot make believe that ignoring it will only make things better. As someone said to me today, it’s like feeding the crocodile, hoping that if you feed him long enough he won’t eat you.
It doesn’t work that way because in the end, you wind up being the crocodile’s dessert.
Advice to Bibi: take note of Obama’s big teeth and hearty appetite.