The murder of Ari Fuld and the lessons of standing up to terror

Ari and I spoke about a multitude of topics over the years and he both enlightened me and inspired me to greater heights.

Ronald Edelstein, | updated: 22:57

OpEds Ari Fuld
Ari Fuld

It is only hours after the conclusion of Yom Kippur as I write these words, and my heart is still racing and my mind practically numb. As I stood in synagogue and confessed my sins to the One Above, the one that gnawed at me the most, the one that tore my soul asunder was that I had not done enough to help my friend, Ari Fuld, zts'l.

As I was busy with work and family related matters on Sunday, September 16th, I took a brief respite to glance at the day's headlines from Israel. Suddenly, and without notice, I froze. When I read the news that Ari Fuld had been stabbed to death by a 17-year old Arab terrorist, it was immediately apparent to me that this premeditated murder was meant not only to silence Ari, (who was known as the Lion of Judea), but it was specifically designed to silence all of us, while instilling within us fear.

After being stabbed at the Gush Etzion junction near the Rami Levy supermarket, I had read that Ari pursued his attacker by brandishing his firearm and shooting at him to ensure that he would be neutralized and unable to stab others. Despite his mortal wounds, Ari kept shooting until he collapsed.  

The news hit me with the ferocity of a deadly storm. Scraping myself from the floor in the metaphorical sense proved to be an excruciatingly painful task. But nothing was more heartbreaking than to see the profound grief etched on the faces of Ari's wife Miriam and their four children at his funeral.

I had no power to control it, as my mind kept returning to that day many years ago when I first met Ari. It was a delightful Shabbos afternoon at the Hamptons Synagogue. Ari began speaking - a strong, idealistic and captivating orator. His innate intelligence and dedication to his people and the land of Israel reverberated throughout the synagogue.

Ari spoke of the project that he was so incredibly passionate about and exceptionally proud of.   Founded in 2004, Standing Together is a non-profit organization that started by sending pizzas to IDF soldiers guarding the checkpoints. Seeing the smile on the soldier’s faces helped the volunteers of Standing Together realize the importance of keeping our soldiers happy.

Standing Together then began to cater to the different needs of soldiers, sending drinks, food, clothes, undergarments, and more to our soldiers in the field.     

Ari told us that every week the Standing Together truck makes it out to numerous bases and meets hundreds of active IDF soldiers. The truck brings them sponsored operational gear, care packages, unit BBQs, Pizza, cold / hot drinks, fresh pancakes and ice cream and much more. The current truck has a built-in grill, freezer, popcorn machine, phone chargers and more equipment that assists in giving Israel’s heroes some much deserved appreciation.

I couldn't resist Ari's eloquent appeal for funds for this crucial project. After his talk, I introduced myself to Ari and suffice it to say, we connected on many levels and became fast friends. I was more than thrilled to become a part of the outstanding work that he had devoted his life to.  I gave him my business card which contained my phone number and e-mail address and thereafter we were in constant communication. Throughout the weeks and months to come, I learned more about Ari.

Prior to meeting Ari, I had seen him on social media but upon meeting him I recognized him. I was awestruck by his presence and found out what an icon and phenomenon he was on the many platforms on which he appeared.

In retrospect, I now realize that Ari's presence on social media made him the perfect target for the insidious network of Arab terrorists.  

Besides being a valiant IDF paratrooper who was wounded during the 2006 Lebanese war, Ari was a larger than life figure for his strenuous advocacy for the expansion of the "settlement movement". Routinely appearing on Israeli news programs Ari was both an exceptionally bright and articulate debate opponent as he persuasively argued for the cause of Jews living throughout Judea and Samaria.  

A deeply religious man, Ari was totally devoted to the Torah values that were taught to him by his father, Rabbi Yonah Fuld, who was the former principal of SAR Academy, a prominent Orthodox school in the heavily Jewish Riverdale section of the Bronx.

Ari would disseminate his Divrei Torah far and wide through the videos he posted and remained anchored in his unwavering faith and trust in Hashem. His love for the land of Israel and his willingness to sacrifice
The time is long overdue for us to unflinchingly become masters of our own fate and captains of our own ship.
everything for his family and his people were evident to all who had the privilege of being in his orbit.

Ari and I spoke about a multitude of topics over the years and he both enlightened me and inspired me to greater heights. I contributed on a regular basis to the magnificent cause that Ari championed but in retrospect, I only wish that I had given him more, done more, been there for him more. The one thing I know for sure, is that I became a better man for having known Ari.  

“Zion cries and the land of Israel cries. Ari influenced thousands of people all over the world,” his father, Rabbi Yonah Fuld, said in a eulogy. “He gave his life to sanctify God, to sanctify the land. If you would have asked him, that’s the way he would have said he wanted to go.”

As the vibrant memories of Ari come rushing back in the recesses of my mind, I ask myself, who really murdered this unassuming hero of his people and my dear friend?

Yes, Ari's murder was planned as his attacker stood behind him, dressed in black, for several minutes; waiting for the perfect moment in which to end his life. This Arab terrorist teenager was part and parcel of a well oiled network of calculated murderers who main mission is to spill the blood of Jews; to vanquish the lives of those they perceive as the "enemy" and "occupier".

The reality is that Ari's murderer, Khalil Yousef Ali Jabarin, (who made it out alive and is nursing his wounds in an Israeli hospital paid for by Jews) is a paid assassin who completed his mission. Jabarin, who comes from an Arab village near Hevron, was tasked with snuffing out not only Ari who represented the voice of truth and righteousness but was tasked with murdering a part of each and every one of us.

It has been reported that the Palestinian Authority has already paid out over $3000 to the Jabarin family following Ari's murder. But it does not stop there.

The World Israel News website reported that my friend, US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, communicated his shock at the Palestinian Authority’s recent announcement that the Jabarin family would be “eligible to receive a monthly salary” based on the crime he committed.

“The Palestinian Prisoner Affairs Commission has confirmed that the family of the terrorist who murdered Ari Fuld is ‘eligible to receive a monthly salary’ as compensation for his incarceration,” tweeted Friedman on Thursday, September 20th.

“This practice is unconscionable and must stop if there is to be any hope for peace,” he added.

Friedman made the comments after a PA official confirmed to the Times of Israel that the family of the killer would in fact be eligible for payments.

A paid political murder of this kind is essentially tantamount to employing the most worst form of intimidation. Silencing one's enemies through terror and fear is a tactic that has been utilized by sadistic tyrants since time immemorial.

Yet and still, for we the Jewish people who have endured inquisitions, pogroms and the unspeakable atrocities of the Holocaust, it is incumbent upon us to never remain silent in the face of brutal adversity.

Therefore, I write this article for all to see.

The Holocaust and its devastating aftermath has profoundly affected me on a very personal basis. As we are in the midst of the holiday of Sukkot with all its attendant rejoicing, my heart remains forever broken, as it was on the second day of Sukkot that my father's entire family (with the exception of my father and my grandfather) were murdered by the Nazi barbarians.

Now more than ever, we must raise our collective voices in outrage and anger and demand that the lives of our brethren be protected at all costs.

But it is also incumbent on us all to make a personal and national accounting as well. Are we at all responsible for the murder of Ari Fuld?

Every time that the government of Israel agrees to a terrorist prisoner exchange, does that not embolden the Khalil Jabarins of the Arab world to raise their swords or plant their bombs or shoot innocent people?

Every time we speak of making territorial concessions to the Palestinian enemy in the name of a "suicidal" peace accord, do we not strengthen the will of those who seek our destruction?

Let's remember the  tragic summer of 2005, when 10,000 brave Jews of Gush Katif were forced from their homes and communities in order to serve the cause of an elusive "peace" by relinquishing the Jewish presence in Gaza. The Palestinians of Gaza quickly transformed the strip into a launching pad for Iranian sponsored rockets that would rain terror into Israel on a routine basis.

Every time any concession of any kind is made to our sworn enemies, the hostilities become further ignited and the murder of more Jews is the inevitable outcome.

Let us heed the words of prolific writer Tzvi Fishman, who in his tribute to Ari Fuld, ztk'l on Arutz Sheva, said:

"The fact is that all over Israel, at the junction of roads leading to areas controlled by the Palestinian Authority, there are large signs warning, in bold red lettering, that Jews are forbidden to enter the area. The same thing must be done on roadways leading to all Jewish communities in Israel – large signs with bold red lettering forbidding Arabs to enter the area.

"Have you ever asked yourself why Arabs can walk around freely in Jewish communities, supermarkets, hospitals, and shopping centers all over Israel without worrying that someone will kill them, when, in contrast, a Jew entering an Arab community or Arab hospital is likely to be slaughtered within minutes?"

The time is long overdue for us to unflinchingly become masters of our own fate and captains of our own ship. Israel is the one and only Jewish state and must be made safe again and great again for our people as well as our future generations to survive and flourish.

For Ari's sake, for our sake, for the sake of sanity and common sense, we must put an end to this madness now!!  May it be the will of Hashem and may we be worthy to follow in Ari's great legacy. Let us all become "Lions of Judea". That is the most fitting of tributes to my dear friend, Ari Fuld!  

(Note: A GoFundMe page has been set up to help support Ari's widow and his children.)