Fuersterism:
Accosted woman takes matter into her own hands, teaching lesson

Sometimes an insult alone may be grievous enough to deserve swift retribution in the form of corporeal punishment. Opinion.

Mordechai Sones,

Esther Fuerster
Esther Fuerster
Compliments Esther Fuerster

“Crime reflects more than the character of the pitiful few who commit it. It reflects the character of the entire society.” - Ramsey Clark

Israeli government employee and olah from Poland Esther Fuerster was walking home last night when she was accosted by an exhibitionist, meters from her home. Posting on Facebook immediately after the ordeal, Fuerster wrote: “I won't say who this was, whether a Jew, an Arab, or a Christian, but on my way home now a religious-looking man turned to me as I approached and opened his trousers presenting his manhood.”

This is not the first time Fuerster has been subjected to such an outrage: “Last time it happened it was six months ago and I run away, yet again, like a small child.”

Fuerster, who describes herself as athletic but slim, had reason to capitulate out of fear once again, but this time, she found strength within herself that can now never be taken away: “Tonight, I went off course, approached him and smacked him so hard across the face that his glasses flew off and he tumbled down onto a bench.

“He moaned in protest.

“I asked him very loudly and clearly, why did he think that such behavior was acceptable? Why did he think that it was acceptable to flash a stranger? How does he consider himself religious and yet disrespect a woman like this?

“I shook the entire time, but I didn't run this time. I told him to get dressed and go home.”

Fuerster sums up the incident with a lesson she learned last night: “They aren't scary after all. I don't know why I had been afraid of them until now.”

Fuerster’s post drew widespread approval and support. It seems to be a matter of unanimous agreement that an attack needn’t necessarily be physical to warrant violent - some Europeans may even say “disproportionate” - reprisal. Sometimes an insult alone may be grievous enough to deserve swift retribution in the form of corporeal punishment, with no recourse for the assailant to due process or any of the features of civilized society in which we have become accustomed to place our trust and security.

But in other circumstances of actual physical attack with rock or firebomb, citizens are expected to assess the level of actual threat to life they are under, in real time, and limit their reaction to the absolute minimum use of force required to escape with one’s life. Even then, the victim will be interrogated, his weapon confiscated, and the burden of proof will fall on him to establish that his response was justified.

Esther Fuerster could have responded by documenting the indecent incident with her phone and reporting it to the police, as rock attack victims are expected to do. After all, what kind of anarchy would reign in this country if everyone acted like Esther Fuerster?

Or perhaps it is backwards, and anarchy is actually the here and now?

Had Fuerster taken the route of the Good Citizen, she would have sat in a dreary police waiting room, dictated the complaint to an inspector at a keyboard, be given a piece of paper with a phone number and barcode, and told to wait. Yet it is doubtful whether such a course of action would have generated the torrent of awe, respect, and adulation she received on Facebook, let alone a renewed sense of self-respect and an empowerment shift within herself that resulted from her taking matters into her own hands.

Rule of law is an issue that has been at the forefront of Israeli discourse in the past week. New Justice Minister Amir Ohana was asked about a statement he made insinuating that not every court ruling necessarily need be obeyed. Ohana said, "Tali Hatuel lived in Gush Katif. She reached the Kissufim route and was shot by terrorists who reached the road. It appears the terrorists reached the Kissufim road under the protection of a number of structures. The army had identified the buildings as a security threat but the Supreme Court, although lacking expertise, decided to prevent the demolition."

When asked if in some cases Supreme Court decisions need not be obeyed, Ohana responded: "The supreme consideration should be to protect the lives of the citizens, yes."

Supreme Court Chief Justice Esther Hayut criticized the Justice Minister’s statement, saying "the fact that a Justice Minister in the State of Israel, on his inauguration day, chooses to share with us an unprecedented and irresponsible legal outlook, according to which not all verdicts handed by a court need necessarily be respected, must be viewed with utmost seriousness."

Hayut continued, "In other words, every litigant will be able, with the Justice Minister's blessing, to choose which judgment to uphold and which not. I want to say only one thing about this: Between this worldview and the anarchy of 'every man, what is good in his eyes will do' - the road is short."

National Union Chairman MK Betzalel Smotrich responded to Justice Hayut, saying, "The heart of the matter is that obeying the law is much more important than obeying court rulings. When court rulings become grounded in adherence to the laws of the Knesset, there will be no problem obeying them to the letter.”

The details of the heinous rape of a seven-year-old needn’t be repeated. But on the background of this nauseating crime and the nonsense emerging from the politicians who preside over this society whose character is reflected in the crimes committed herein, it must be said that the concept of vengeance occupies an honored place in Torah outlook. Sources that forbid acts of vengeance speak in relation to personal revenge. As opposed to personal revenge, avenging Jewish blood or any insult of such magnitude are considered meritorious acts and sanctify the Creator in His world. This should be a matter of national policy, not vigilante attacks by individuals. Avenging the wicked shows the world there is judgement and there is a Judge Who avenges insults to His People Israel.

But lest the discourse deteriorate into talk of an halakhic state versus Western democracy, here is a section from Stanford University Professor Thomas Sowell’s book, A Conflict of Visions. In this classic work, Sowell analyzes the two competing visions that shape the West’s debates about the nature of reason, justice, equality, and power: the “constrained” vision that sees human natures as unchanging and selfish, and the “unconstrained” vision, where human nature is malleable and perfectible: “Adam Smith acknowledged that the infliction of punishment is itself a negative experience to humane individuals, but again it was a cost he was willing to pay – a necessary trade-off in a situation with no solution:

When the guilty is about to suffer that just retaliation, which the natural indignation of mankind tells them is due to his crimes; when the insolence of his injustice is broken and humbled by the terror of his approaching punishment; when he ceases to be an object of fear, with the generous and humane he begins to be an object of pity. The thought of what he is about to suffer extinguishes their resentment for the sufferings of others to which he has given occasion. They are disposed to pardon and forgive him, and to save him from that punishment, which in all their cool hours they had considered as the retribution due such crimes. Here, therefore, they have occasion to call to their assistance the consideration of the general interest of society. They counterbalance the impulse of this weak and partial humanity, by the dictates of a humanity that is more generous and comprehensive. They reflect that mercy to the guilty is cruelty to the innocent, and oppose to the emotions of compassion which they feel for a particular person, a more enlarged compassion which they feel for mankind.’

“But, whereas Smith saw the infliction of punishment as a painful duty, believers in the unstrained vision have seen it as an unnecessary indulgence in vengeance, a ‘brutalizing throwback to the full horror of man’s inhumanity in an earlier time.’ With this vision, the criminal is seen as a victim – a ‘miserable victim’ in Godwin’s words, first, of the special circumstances which provoked the crime, and then of people with a lust for punishment. The criminal’s ‘misfortunes’, according to Godwin, ‘entitle him’ to something better than the ‘supercilious and unfeeling neglect’ he is likely to receive. The death penalty, especially, imposed on ‘these forlorn and deserted members of the community’ highlights the ‘iniquity of civil institutions’. True, the criminal inflicted harm on others, but this was due to ‘circumstances’ – these circumstances being the only distinction between him and the highest members of society. Within the framework of this vision, executions are simply ‘cold-blooded massacres that are perpetrated in the name of criminal justice’.” (Thomas Sowell, A Conflict of Visions; pp. 159-161)

Of course, talk of the death penalty always follows the most horrific crimes. Yisrael Beyteinu Chairman Avigdor Liberman demanded the little girl’s rapist be put to death.

"It caused me a deep shock: It's not pedophilia, it's pure terror - one of the worst I've ever heard of," Liberman analyzed.

"This is precisely one of the cases in which I would not hesitate and demand that the court sentence the despicable terrorist to death," he added.

Then, to maximize political gain from the rape, Liberman was quick to add "It’s a pity that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu continues to torpedo the death penalty for the terrorists, despite his written and public commitment."

Then Liberman, like Adam Smith, quoted the Talmudic saying: "Those who are merciful unto the cruel will one day be cruel unto the merciful."

They don’t mean it. There will not be a death penalty in Israel under the current climate of political discourse. What Israel needs is a Fuersterist conception in our national dealings, that would not only resonate positively in our foreign affairs, but will act as a balm to heal our people from the violence and insults that we have accepted as part of the natural order. Let something happen in prison that will wipe that smile off the face of Ori Ansbacher’s murderer permanently. Let the Muslims make it their personal responsibility to protect every Jewish boy and girl, so help them. Perhaps we'll come to learn the lesson, “They aren't scary after all. I don't know why I had been afraid of them until now.”

Personally, I’d feel much safer with Esther Fuerster as Defense Minister.




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