Building new homes is not the correct response to terrorism

Almost immediately after the horrific murder of Hallel Ariel yesterday, many Israelis, including members of Knesset, called for the construction of thousands of new Jewish homes in response.

I think this is a mistake for two reasons.

Firstly, I don’t think that building Jewish homes in our homeland should be a response to anything except our national aspirations. We belong here. We have a historic, religious, and legal right to build anywhere we want within our sovereign borders. For us to imply that we can only exercise that right when a Jew is murdered belittles that right. It turns it into a macabre reward for losing those we love. We should build thousands of homes to accommodate the thousands of families who will soon fill them, not as a response to Hallel’s brutal murder.

Secondly, I think the equation of building Jewish homes to murdered Jews is terrifyingly dangerous. Anyone with even a tenuous grasp of logic or basic math or language can see the problem: equations can always be reversed. If we say that building homes is the proper response to murdered Jews, then that allows the twisted, grotesque minds of our enemies to reverse the equation and understand that murdering Jews is the appropriate response to us building homes. Such an equation is repugnant to me. I don’t think the two should ever go hand in hand.

That’s not to say I don’t think there should be a response to Hallel’s murder. There should be a response, and a strong one at that. We can no longer punish her murderer, as he is (thankfully) dead. But we can punish those responsible for his decisions.

The Palestinian Authority needs to be held accountable for this in a huge way. When they glorify his actions, they encourage others to follow in his gruesome steps. Any statements other than condemnation should result in sanctions. If they are going to incentivize terrorism, they should have harsh financial penalties levied against them. If their officials are going to incite terrorism, they should be treated as belligerent towards Israel and fought like any other enemy we’ve fought (and defeated) before. Destroying the house of the terrorist’s family is a good measure as well, and I’m pleased that the IDF is already following through on that. The entire Palestinian society, from its upper echelons down to every individual, needs to learn – in the harshest manner possible – that terrorism is unacceptable.

These notions for swift, harsh responses are not meant to be merely punitive. I believe that they are necessary temporary elements which will eventually lead to an agreed-upon peaceful coexistence, as spelled out in Zev Jabotinsky’s 1920 essay “The Iron Wall.” “But,” Jabotinsky writes in the closing lines, “the only way to obtain such an agreement, is the iron wall, which is to say a strong power in Palestine that is not amenable to any Arab pressure.  In other words, the only way to reach an agreement in the future is to abandon all idea of seeking an agreement at present.”

About the Author
Proud resident of a town in the heart of Jewish history, still watching it unfold.