Fifty years ago today, September 5, eight members of the Palestinian terrorist group Black September killed two members of the Israeli Olympic team and took nine more as hostages. After some negotiations came a failed rescue attempt, during which the terrorists killed all nine hostages. Today, the German government will hold a ceremony in their memory in the presence of the president of Israel. During the half century that has passed, the Munich Olympics Massacre has come to symbolize the evil of terrorism against innocent people. Yet, as we can see, terrorists and terrorism have not been curbed since. On the contrary, they have only grown because of our lack of resolve.
I remember the tragedy. It was not something that came out of the blue. What did surprise me, however, was Israel’s indecision. In my opinion, the only way to deal with terrorists is to give them the same treatment that they strive to give us: annihilation.
In the case of the Munich terrorists, five were killed during the botched raid, and three were arrested after they killed the hostages. A month later, all three were released in a hostage exchange following the hijacking of Lufthansa Flight 615.
As I see it, the whole concept of chasing perpetrators after they have committed their crime is flawed. Israel should not be chasing individual terrorists; it should eliminate any terrorist organizations in their entirety. The same logic that had made the US crush Osama bin Laden’s organization, and finally he himself, should apply to the treatment of any organization that seeks to achieve political goals by slaying innocent civilians, i.e., by terror.
However, Israel will not treat terrorists or terrorist organizations the same as America does. Israelis simply feel they have no justification to do so. It is not a conscious feeling; we do not feel that we are criminals, but there is a tenacious hidden devil that whispers in our ears that we are bad, unworthy, that we deserve the troubles that befall us.
This feeling is nothing new. It has been with us for thousands of years, and will continue to be with us until we understand that we need to behave differently, why we feel this way to begin with, and what we need to do about it.
Like I said, from the operational perspective, we should eliminate anyone who wishes to eliminate us. However, acting only on this level will not achieve lasting results. The most important, and the most difficult work we must do is among ourselves: to deepen our unity and solidarity.
Just as fifty years ago, terrorism is wreaking havoc in our society, sowing fear, and exposing our internal weakness. Just as then, so now, it would not succeed were it not for our division. If we were united, not only would terrorist acts against Israel fail, there would be no attempts.
We are bringing hatred on ourselves by hating one another. No other nation must abide by the law of unity like the Israeli nation. No other country depends on its internal strength as much as Israel does. No other people became a nation by uniting their hearts as if they have one heart, and no other nation has been charged with being a model of unity for all of humanity.
Just as we subconsciously feel guilty for not being a model of unity, and therefore “deserve punishment,” resulting in lack of resolve against our enemies, other nations feel our debt to them. They blame us for every woe and tragedy that befalls them, but underneath their accusations lies one charge against the Jews: You are spreading division instead of unity.
This is why only if we bond together and become united will we defeat our enemies. We will not win through weapons but through closeness of hearts among us, which will restore the essence of our peoplehood to its historic role in the family of nations.*
*For more on this topic, please read Like a Bundle of Reeds: Why unity and mutual guarantee are today’s call of the hour.