Today we learnt that while the entire Jewish world had united in prayer for the safe return of our kidnapped boys, they were in fact lying dead in a field – murdered and then discarded by their captors.

During this entire episode, the world media ruminated on whether the story was worthy of broad coverage in amongst the rest of the ‘breaking’ and ‘developing’ news. If they did choose to publish, they ruminated on whether the boys were even kidnapped or just ‘missing’, and whether the story was about an act of terror against innocents, or about ‘collective punishment’ of the Palestinians.

And now that their fate has been confirmed, the response from the US State Department is the same old nonsense: they urge restraint. Even as President Obama finally found the fortitude to the ‘t-word’ to describe an act perpetrated against Jews, he mitigated the word in the very same phrase by calling it “a senseless act of terror“, and then fell back to the standard pattern of equivalence in “urg[ing] all parties to refrain from steps that could further destabilize the situation”.

The vile perpetrators of this crime against innocents not only say they are not terrorists, but would also disagree Obama’s characterisation of their act as “senseless“. They know full well how much we Jews value life, and they use that against us at every opportunity. They know the heavy price we paid for the return of Gilad Shalit, and since his return have plotted and continue to plot to exact a similar or greater price for their next ‘bounty’.

And while the world wants Israel to show ‘restraint’, it never calls upon Hamas to show ‘restraint’ by not kidnapping students, or show ‘restraint’ by not firing missiles indiscriminately at civilian populations, or even show ‘restraint’ by not repressing their own population and ‘restraint’ in not misappropriating funds intended to help its people for their more important goal of destroying another people. Where is those calls for ‘restraint?

Those calls for ‘restraint’ are absent because they fall on deaf ears.

However, our own people continue to heed those calls for ‘restraint’ because for some reason we maintain a false belief that maybe – just maybe – there is something we can do that will cause our enemies to stop hating us and stop wanting to destroy us.

There is no ‘cycle of violence’. But unfortunately there is a cycle of

  1. terror attack(s) against Jews
  2. half-baked and ‘restrained’ response
  3. terrorists slowly regroup
  4. rinse and repeat; return to step 1

It has happened again and again, and will continue to happen until we break free from that cycle.

We are fighting an asymmetric war against an enemy with whom there is no common ground or even common values. While we may seek win-win outcomes through negotiation, they see things as a zero-sum game. While we mourn the murder of our innocents, they celebrate the unintentional death of theirs as another tool against us in the war of public opinion. While we celebrate life, they celebrate death and martyrdom.

As Rabbi Sacks wrote so eloquently in a tribute to our three boys, “too intense a focus on heaven is capable of justifying every kind of evil on earth”. “Judaism is supremely a religion of life”, he wrote, and “Eyal, Gilad and Naftali were killed by people who believed in death”. This asymmetry is one that cannot be bridged by negotiations and agreements.

I pray for the souls of Eyal, Gilad and Naftali. I pray that their families and friends find comfort. And most of all, I pray that the government of Israel find no room for ‘restraint’.