Perceive from Heaven, and see
Posted by Ron Coleman on March 9, 2008
Since blogging this story about the murder in the Mercaz HaRav yeshiva in Jerusalem on Thursday, I haven’t been too inclined toward political, humor or clever blogging. I left that story at the top of my blog, therefore, and with this I will make my final points on the matter for now, though, and… “move on,” as they say.
It is hard to explain how significantly this attack has been felt in particular by orthodox Jews in America. Most outsiders do not even understand what these students, who mainly learn the Babylonian Talmud, do all day, or why. That’s beyond the scope of this item, but this slaughter was emotionally wrenching in a unique way to people such as myself because as the father of yeshiva-age students, most of my friends have or very soon will have children studying in similar institutions in that very same neighborhood or otherwise nearby. I also studied in yeshiva in Israel myself.
Until now there had been what may have looked like an “understanding” that religious institutions were off limits to Arab terrorism. This was not some sort of good will gesture; Arab antisemitism is so deep and profound in its modern form that Jews are hated as Jews and Judaism as the offensive creed of Jews more or less on the visceral level of Nazis. But as a tactical matter, it does not “look good” in the West to kill rabbis, or students, and it could make the Europeans hold onto their regular infusion of cash for a month or something if they get embarrassed by their Palestinian clients.
The Mercaz HaRav yeshiva, though, was a good place from the Arab point of view to break down that wall. It is, unlike the non-Zionist yeshiva where I studied or where my particular circle of friends would send their boys, the flagship of the Religious Zionist movement. Its philosophy expressly mixes the State of Israel into religion, and frequently in a militant fashion. And its student body is mainly Israeli, unlike the Mirrer Yeshiva, for example, which has a large American contingent.
But no one familiar with this scene is kidding himself. Political and philosophical distinctions aside, these are absolutely our boys, and they are the targets of the murderers who have been raised by birth to believe that to kill a Jew is a politically and morally justifiable act; no, praiseworthy; and that there is, in the greater world, no penalty for this, no opprobrium, no condemnation.
Right wingers, Jewish and otherwise, and even those more moderately inclined burn with a desire for vengeance for these killings, but there is no tactical advantage to it, and the emotional satisfaction is short-lived. The actual killer is dead. He probably acted more or less alone, or with a loose group of friends. Do we kill in Gaza because they are so debased that they celebrated the spilling of our blood? Does that save our children the next time?
The Jews in Israel cannot, as a practical matter, or a spiritual matter, engage in endless warfare for generations to come. No nation can — where is Sparta? A permanent war footing is not tolerable to any society, economically, socially, spiritually. Total war against all Arabs is not a winning proposition for the Jews. Those who say it is are either not really exposed to the costs and risks of maintaining such a fight, or are lashing out emotionally, viscerally, hormonally, or are simply delusional.
Well, is a permanent state of victimhood tolerable?
It is not … “tolerable.” But we have tolerated it.
Twice a week we Jews beseech the Creator:
Look down from heaven and perceive that we have become an object of scorn and derision among the nations. We are reckoned as the sheep led to the slaughter, to be killed, destroyed, beaten and humiliated. But despite this we have not forgotten Your Name. Pease do not forget us.
It is a very old prayer.
Cross-posted on Right Wing News.