Yesterday morning, the news in Israel was interrupted by a bulletin reporting that a 14-year old girl had been stabbed in Jerusalem’s Armon HaNatziv neighborhood while she was waiting at a bus stop on her way to school. We let out a communal sigh of relief upon hearing that she was only lightly injured, and our lives returned to normal. Terror attacks, heart-breaking and painful, have become a bleeding part of our routine.
A thousand terror attacks cannot undermine our firm hold on the land of Israel. The covenant of blood between our nation and its land gives our lives in this country greater and greater depth and rootedness.
A single terrorist attack perpetrated by our people, however, undermines our right to live in our land. Israel’s Shin Bet security service has determined that the stone hurled at the car of the Rabi family in October, killing Aisha Rabi as she travelled with her husband and one of her daughters, was thrown by Jewish youth who had decided to spend the Friday night of Parshat Noah terrorizing Palestinians driving past the Tapuah junction to their homes.
The rabbis who ruled that it was permissible for Jewish activists from Yitzhar to drive to the settlement of Rehelim on Shabbat in order to prepare yeshiva students suspected of terror for Shin Bet interrogation understood that the suspects were in a life-threatening situation that justified the violation of Shabbat. These rabbis see falling into the hands of the Israeli internal security service as comparable to being captured by Israel’s enemies. In their eyes, the state has become the enemy of the people.
Last weekend, well-intentioned rabbis also signed a petition calling for moderation in the interrogation of the “boys.”
Responding to Jewish terror with a forgiving attitude is unconscionable. There must be one consistent law in Israel, for Jews and Arabs alike. The Shin Bet that has identified the yeshiva students in Rehelim as being involved in the killing of Aisha, a mother of nine children, is the same Shin Bet that has identified and tracked down Palestinian perpetrators of terror against Jews throughout Israel.
It is clear that there must be limits on the use of force by Israel’s security services and it is clear that we must warn against the excessive use of force during interrogations. But when Jewish youth are arrested on suspicion of killing, we — who are committed to the values of the Torah and to education — must stand shoulder to shoulder with the security forces and help them track down those who threaten to harm the very fabric of our lives.
The prophets of Israel warned that shedding innocent blood will cause us to lose our right to our land. By the grace of God, we have been given a strong and sovereign state. We must maintain our internal fortitude and moral integrity lest we lose this privilege.
Rabbis and educators must condemn hate crimes and violence against innocent people in a clear, strong voice, and in so doing elevate our nation — a nation that aspires to be a chosen people that can serve as a model for all the nations of the world.
Translated by Shira Pasternak Be’eri.