After all the years I spent [in prison], the natural inclination is to try to focus on rebuilding my life. That is what my beloved wife Esther and I tried to do during that one year of grace we were given together here, and that is what I am trying to do now after I lost her.
But the clear knowledge of the disaster that we are leading ourselves to, with the images of the past few months, and in particular the gut-wrenching massacre in Elad, leave me no peace.
I simply cannot remain silent any longer.
For decades, Esther went in my stead to be with the families of fallen IDF soldiers and terror victims during their most difficult moments. I don't understand how she was able to stand it. Ever since her passing, I have been trying to follow in her footsteps, but I am haunted by the faces of relatives who have lost everything, and I tremble with a handshake; a hug at a funeral leaves my body and soul trembling, especially since, like them and like everyone else, I cannot flee the knowledge this loss could have been prevented.
During the 30 years I was in prison, I lived with incredible fear and concern for my life. I had to have eyes in the back of my head. I couldn’t sleep at night, concerned that someone would enter my room and stab either me or my roommate to death. I had to always carry a knife and be prepared to use it without hesitation. I constantly had to witness the horrible deaths of other people-especially my friends, that occurred suddenly and without warning. In prison, the most frustrating thing of all had to do with the fact that the officials in charge of protecting us, were basically scared of the violent prisoners and accommodated them as much as possible.
Put plainly, our administrators wanted peace at any cost, even if it meant that innocent people were murdered without serious consequences to those who attacked them.
We couldn’t even rely upon the guards to protect us because they didn’t want an inmate injured by them taking them to court. I quickly learned that we didn’t have a right to self-defense under any circumstances. People can’t believe me when I tell them that we were always wrong if we tried to defend ourselves. And those who did were always punished excessively in order to make the point that they were no better than their assailants. It was total insanity.
I prayed that when I came home, I wouldn’t have to live this way. I was wrong. Indeed, given what I’ve seen over the past year, it’s even worse now for me because this time it’s not about one or two people getting randomly killed, but about an entire nation being traumatized by an army of cold-blooded anti-Semitic psychopaths, who the authorities are afraid of “provoking”. I’ve seen this movie before, and it never ends well.
In prison, I had one or two good friends who watched my back and I watched theirs, and I lived under G-D's grace and tried to remember that you fear no one but G-D, and strike first. Here, incredibly, I'm living with a whole country that is either scared to death or in denial. We are all suffering on account of a group of intellectually challenged political and judicial elites who have an infinite capacity to tolerate the suffering of our citizens, all the while insinuating that we are somehow responsible for all the violence we are experiencing.
I see the faces of the captured terrorists after their carried out the terrible massacre in Elad, and I see clearly how they aren't afraid of prison. They know that they will get conditions many times better than what any common criminal would face, and a stipend from the Palestinian Authority in honor of the murders they committed, etc.
I know perfectly well what a prison designed to deprive a prisoner of his will to live looks like. But here, the conditions for the jailed, despicable murderers only encourages more terrorists to join the club. How can we let this situation continue for even a minute longer?
I’m tired of this. I’m tired of seeing our so-called leaders taking our flag, and washing out the blue, and leaving only the white of surrender. I’m waiting for somebody, a leader, a true Jewish leader, to come forward and put the blue stripes and the Magen-David back on our flag.
I’m waiting for a leader that will put the fear of G-d into our enemies. I’m waiting for a leader who will act without any concern about what anybody else outside our country thinks. Whether it be the United States or the European Union, the UN, or anybody else who believes they can tell us where we can live or how we are to defend ourselves.
We know why we are here. G-D gave us this land; not the British Empire, the League of Nations, Washington, or the UN. But despite this fact, it is sad for me to realize that our holy mission of reestablishing the Third Jewish Commonwealth is not even halfway done. And this is because of our own fear and trepidation, not the result of our enemies’ actions.
We still don’t have our land back. We don’t have our self-respect back, we don’t have our independence back the way we should have after 2000 years of pogroms, crusades, inquisitions, and genocidal attempts to eliminate our people. I’ve spent 30 years in prison hoping and praying that I would come home to a state that would defend me. Was I wrong? It certainly feels that way.
A story my father often told me comes to mind. He said that a soldier’s principal duty is to protect the lives of his comrades, not to let them down because some high-ranking officer was too scared to order a necessary, but politically incorrect, action. As I see it, our lives have essentially been reduced to such a battlefield, where our citizens, my brothers and sisters, are forced to defend themselves and those around them, not only from the enemy but from our own government, which is too scared to do what is required to eradicate the terrorist threat. This state of affairs is totally unacceptable!
We desperately need to get rid of this ‘galut’ mentality that prioritizes the need to ‘understand’ our enemies over the security of our people. We simply can’t think like the ten spies, who attributed to others what they felt about themselves – namely, that they were like grasshoppers. Well, I’m not a grasshopper, and neither are my brothers and sisters in this country.
We are the descendants of proud and noble warriors, who feared only G-D and never hesitated to defend our land from some of the greatest empires the world has ever seen. But over many years our leaders have relentlessly tried to have us forget this fact in favor of our adopting a more liberal post-modernism, where we ‘share’ our land with those who openly seek to destroy us. No more! We must reject this type of cynical defeatism before it kills us.
It is time for us to regain both our individual and collective self-respect. It’s time for our nation to demand that our leaders care about us rather than their foreign masters. It’s time for our elected representatives to finally eliminate once and for all those groups and countries who seek to destroy us. Lastly, we want the army high command to wake up and stop pretending that ‘managing the enemy’ is an acceptable strategic doctrine. It isn’t. It’s a form of appeasement that preserves our opponents while making us look weak and stupid.
I know we can enact these essential reforms. If we actually want to be an independent country, we have no other choice. Indeed, these goals should be seen as sacred obligations we must embrace not only for our sake, but also for the sake of our future generations. May G-D grant us the wisdom and strength to do so.
A Hebrew version of this piece appeared in today's edition of Yedioth Aharonoth.