When you and I opened our newspapers to discover that it was in fact a Jewish teenager who had terrorized communities of his fellow Jews across the globe with telephone bomb threats – it was quite a shock. A stranger conclusion to the investigation could not have been imagined. We must presume that his motives will be revealed in a future court case, but they will be twisted as the young man himself is deeply disturbed.
For those inclined to classify him as a “self-hating Jew” and dismiss his deeds accordingly, I would suggest that his affliction is far more complicated.
It has been reported that the non-malignant tumor in his head causes him behavior that is violent and unpredictable. That may be the reason that he was kept out of the public schools and taught at home. We are told that home-schooling is a highly unusual practice in Israel, while widely accepted in the USA and other countries. Hence it is clear that he could not function in a normal school environment with his peers.
It is a foregone conclusion that this young man had few friends and lived a very solitary existence in which his parents were his primary connection with reality.
Trying to understand what goes through the mind of someone who is socially at odds with those around him is not easy. In a teenager who may have borderline personality disorder, or an even more serious mental condition, there is a desperate need to draw attention to one’s self. It is as if they are screaming out “Pay attention to me – I matter.” The most bizarre behavior follows. The more outrageous and distressing their acts are, to those who have rejected them… the happier these perpetrators are. The goal is to punish those from they feel ostracized (in this case, his fellow Jews). These damaged loners are in search of an identity, albeit one which is vile and causes pain to others. I am not a doctor, or a psychologist, but experiences with those who have this condition have brought me to this understanding. It is beyond sad that this young man is in this condition. His acts, however, are not forgivable.
From the amount of equipment that this 18 year old had in his home, it is clear that the parents assisted his creation of his own inner sanctum. The technology and the antennas cost substantial money. The young man was not employed so the parents were the source of the funds. They may well have been pleased to simply see that he was busy throughout the day… but paid no attention to what he was actually doing with the computers and sundry equipment they provided. This is a magnified version of that to which every parent must now pay attention.
Having a socially disturbed child is very difficult. This damaged young adult, in an attempt to become powerful, caused thousands of families great pain. Governments and organizations expended vast amounts of fiscal resources as a result of his twisted game. There is no question, but that he must be punished. The odds are that a mental facility will be required, but there will be serious questions as to whether Israel has facilities which can deal with a young person such as this.
This may impact whether or not Israel will be willing to have the teenager extradited to the United States. His dual citizenship will make this a very real possibility. Most of the victims of his sick adventures were Americans even though he perpetrated his evil from his home in Ashkelon.
In my previous article about the surge in Anti-Semitism in the United States, I suggested that just one person sitting at a computer could cause havoc. Being proven correct gives me little pleasure. Still, it is better to have found one twisted individual at the core of these threats, than a massive organization. That is the only good news in this tale.
There are always life lessons to be learned when these problems are resolved. That the Israeli and U.S. governments worked together so tirelessly to find the source of the threats is incredibly admirable. It is an outstanding example of how Democracies can help one another to improve the lives of their citizens.
On a more personal level, I would like to suggest that those not used to living with terrorism in their midst, take time to reflect on their own emotional responses in times of difficulty such as these. Threats abound against many sectors of our different communities. The UK has just had another terrorist use his vehicle to become a mass murderer in front of the houses of Parliament. The intention of every terrorist and every threat is to instill fear in our hearts.
The demented young Israeli-American man was no different than other evil-doer. It is all about “them.” They need to feel important. They need to feel powerful. The victims are the byproduct. Having achieved headlines in papers written about the perpetrator is the icing on their cake. We need to put their acts into perspective and continue to live our lives without fear. Remembering that living has many risks- helps to remind us that even walking across the street can be dangerous. The odds of being the recipient of a terrorist’s attack is quite slim indeed. The odds of being a victim of an automobile accident are far greater. Still, we drive in cars and walk down the streets on which they flow.
In the Muslim countries, terrorists are glorified. Streets are named after them, parties are held to celebrate their sick acts, large photographs of them are plastered on walls for adulation. This is not a culture we will ever understand.
In the Western world, we find these actions abhorrent and teach our children to respect the gift of life. Sick individuals must not have our permission to frighten us. Each of us needs to reflect on our own reactions to these incidents. Our emotional response will determine whether the terrorist has indeed achieved his goal. You and I hold in our hands- their ultimate success or failure.