King Omar

And so it ends, as it always does: after the bang, we whimper.

The saga of the metal detectors/ magnetometers is over, and we could have done without this retread.

As always, we futz around with the status quo for some noble reason, which leads to unreasonable and unreasoning outrage. So we double down. We’re not backing down, they’re not backing down. If any among us suggest that maybe we should reconsider–well, let’s roll out the list of epithets: kapo, Judenrat, appeaser. And if some of those people are in fact in senior positions in the intelligence services, military AND the police? Well, they’re too close to it. You can’t talk to Mahmoud Abbas. You can’t negotiate with King Abdullah. That would be a sign of weakness.

And then the protests, which will turn violent. They happen every Friday, but we usually ignore them. Three dead, as we heard going into Shabbat. Personally, I was consumed by dread, because I knew it would not end there. It never ends there.

And so we come out of Shabbat to the gory reality of triple slaughter in Halamish. I cannot help but think of the mother, my mother’s age, who comes out of the hospital to bury her husband and two of her children, instead of the brit mila they were planning.

And still our government cannot come to a decision. Table it for another day. Take it under advisement.

And then something else happens. A 17-year-old Jordanian with a screwdriver attacks an Israeli embassy guard, who shoots and kills him. And hits his landlord, a doctor, as well. The latter dies in hospital. More death, more blood, more hand-wringing about moral equivalency. And now, since Jordan refuses to let the guard go, we have a hostage too!

My concern is the way people develop a siege mentality. It’s very corrosive and counterproductive. I don’t get my morality from CNN. If you’ve seen my posts, I think it’s pretty clear that I do not morally equate the murder of the Salomons with the harsh tactics we use against Palestinian protestors. I went into Shabbat with a sense of dread because three Palestinian protestors had been killed, because I knew what would happen next.

Omar al-Abed is a terrorist and a murderer, and I hope he spends the rest of his life in a very small cell. But now our government has made him the Hero of Al-Aqsa, the man who forced Israel to remove the blasphemous metal detectors from Haram al-Sharif. And there’s not a shadow of a doubt in my mind that he’ll go free in a prisoner exchange before my toddler is old enough to enlist.

So what is the message we’re sending? That we’ll do the smart thing, not the right thing, but only once enough Jews have been killed or taken hostage? I don’t think that’s what we want to say, but I don’t see how anyone could hear anything else.

After the bang, we whimper.

About the Author
Yoseif Bloch is a rabbi who has taught at Yeshivat HaKotel, Yeshivat Har Etzion and Yeshivat Shvilei Hatorah and served as a congregational rabbi in Canada. He currently works as an editor, translator and publisher. As a blogger and podcaster, he is known as Rabbi Joe in Jerusalem.
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