Eyal Yifrah, 19, Gilad Shaar, 16, and Naftali Fraenkel, 16 – murdered on June 12.
Muhammed Abu Khdeir, 16 – murdered on July 2.
Since then: War.
Some of us are religious, others are not, but almost all of us were raised in a society based on the values of Judaism and Islam.
Yes, there are many disagreements about what exactly these values are.
I understand love of humanity and life are the most basic of these values.
In the story of the binding of Isaac, Abraham is prepared to sacrifice his son Isaac in order to prove his faith in God. God causes a ram to appear and be sacrificed in place of the child in order to demonstrate that the life of the child should not be sacrificed on the altar of faith. This is in the Bible.
Muslims took this story a step further and celebrate Eid al-Adha, the Feast of the Sacrifice, which commemorates this commandment from God – do not make human sacrifices on the altar of our faith. This is a higher commandment for both the religious and secular among us. This is a moral commandment – do not make human sacrifices on the altar of our faith, and know that when a human being dies, it is a terrible thing. Even when your enemy falls, do not rejoice because joy at the death of a human being is perhaps the lowest low that a person can reach. All of us human beings, we are all the children of Adam and Eve, we were fashioned from one seed, and when we rejoice at the death of human being, it is joy at the death of a brother.
During war, when people die, we must sometimes take up weapons and defend ourselves, but we do not rejoice, ever. War is often unavoidable, or at the very least we are unable to prevent it. But to rejoice about war, to rejoice about the death of human beings is indeed the lowest of the low.
We are currently at war. Our enemies are firing at Israel and their rockets do not distinguish between Israel’s citizens. One of the rockets struck and killed an Arab Muslim in the Negev, one of them also did not identify the foreign worker who was struck and died. During this war, we must defend ourselves and the IDF is currently fighting a defensive war, but its outcomes will be very bitter indeed for both sides.
We must remember and not forget what led to this war – one hundred years of bloody and bitter conflict and two acts of human sacrifice which horrified all Muslims and Jews. In these two incidents, the four innocent teenagers Eyal Yifrah, Gilad Shaar, and Naftali Fraenkel and Muhammed Abu Khdeir were sacrificed on the altar of twisted faith. The murderers did not heed God’s moral commandment “do not lay a hand on the boy” and decided to murder them.
Two wars are currently being fought in Israel. The first is the one between the IDF and Hamas. The second war is being fought in the hearts of all human beings here in the Middle East – will we rise up above the lowest low of the murder of these four teenagers or will we wallow in it until we die? Will we rejoice at the death of every casualty of one side or the other or will we mourn each life that is taken? Will we desire the war to end with “images of victory” of the number of dead, or to end with hope for peace between people? Will we live as moral people, Jews and Muslims, or will we live like beasts of the field and among the corpses.
I will not discuss here the war between the IDF and Hamas, but rather the war in our hearts, which is perhaps the more important one for our ability to live here together, and for the ability of our children to live here.
I have no clear answers – I have no answers at all. I only know that if I do not say loudly and clearly that both societies – Israeli society and Palestinian society – are going down a path that leads only towards death, then I will be a collaborator with death.
A society which rejoices on the death of human beings, a society which does not make an effort to protect its people, a society in which a lynching can take place in the bright light of day, a society in which people are afraid to express their opinions, a society in which teenagers become human sacrifices – this is not a sustainable society, not a society we would like to live in. We also cannot live in it.
The two societies are today at the edge of this abyss. Both societies have citizens and leaders who want death and war, who see them as their purpose. Both societies also have people who choose life and peace. It depends on us which voice will be heard louder, or which voice will not be heard at all.
On behalf of the four teenagers, I am saying loud and clear that the death of any human being is evil, because we cannot rejoice about war, and we cannot sanctify death. On behalf of the four teenagers, I request that you also say this. On behalf of the four teenagers, I invite anyone who wants to talk about this, to talk about us, about human beings living in this little piece of heaven blessed with sun and plagued with wars.
On behalf of the four teenagers whom hands were laid upon, and on behalf of all of the teenagers who have been in harms’ way ever since, we wish to do whatever we can to preserve humanity.
May hands never be raised in violence again.
The Dror Israel movement is a pioneer Zionist movement of educators that work in all sectors of society to strengthen faith in man and action in society and to actualize the values of equality, social alliance and social responsibility in everyday reality. In response to Operation Protective Edge, Dror Israel has launched educational programs for children, teens and adults in communities in southern Israel, and has also expanded co-existence programming for Jewish and Arab citizens of Israel.