For years, Israelis have warned that rock-throwing attacks can, and do, kill. For years, Israelis have sought to tell the world that indiscriminate attacks on civilians are inherently unjust and violate the most basic of human rights. What was true then is true now.
According to numerous reports, a 47-year-old Palestinian woman named Aisha Muhammad Talal al-Rabi was killed on Friday near Tapuach junction when the car she was in was pelted with rocks and her husband lost control, leading to a fatal crash.
The attack took place adjacent to a Jewish community, and the IDF and Shin Bet have identified Israeli Jews as the prime suspects behind the stone-throwing.
If their assessment turns out to be true, it must be denounced unequivocally. There is no justifying murder. There is no difference between a Jewish terrorist and a Muslim terrorist – in attacking random civilians, both violate the universal human rights of others. There is no rationale for terrorism. Terrorism is wrong. Period.
There are those who suppose that such acts stem from the legitimate concern that Palestinian terrorists continue to launch brutal attacks on Israeli civilians. The concern is legitimate, but the course of action is not. The correct reaction to murder is never more murder.
Too frequently, people attempt to suggest that such violence is understandable and a natural response to the other side’s aggression. Such arguments mirror the rationale of pro-Palestinian activists who seek to legitimise the murderous terrorism that has killed thousands of Israelis. Downplaying agency and the effects of extreme violence, they help justify the murder of innocents. We can and must avoid this.
Vigilantism is abhorrent and senseless. In fact, such vigilantism is quite clearly anti-Jewish.
Repeatedly, the Torah describes the necessity of the rule of law. It talks of how Moses installed judges, “people of truth who hate unjust gain”, to help alleviate his workload (Exodus 18:13-27); it calls to us, “Justice, justice, you shall pursue” (Deut. 16:20); and despite Judaism being a non-proselytising religion, it even stipulates that non-Jews must set up courts of law to punish murder (Genesis 9:5-6).
When every person acts as they see fit, our world crumbles into anarchy. The rule of law is essential to deliver justice. The results of such vigilantism are all-too-inevitable, leading to a bloodbath in which innocent people are killed.
As much as our fight against Palestinian terrorism is a just one, it should be patently obvious that the fight against Jewish extremism is also vitally important.
Murder is not a Jewish value. As such, if it turns out that this is indeed the result of Jewish extremism, I am doubly disgusted at this vile, repugnant act. I know many other Israeli Jews feel the same.
As an advocate for Israeli human rights and an educator working to share Israel’s story, I strive to show people what life in Israel is really like. It’s a special country with a special people who live in special circumstances. Our neighbours, unfortunately, are not Canada or France or New Zealand. We face terror attacks on a regular basis, and the vicious hatred which spurred countless massacres of Jews in our land goes back centuries before Zionism was ever a glimmer in the eye of Herzl.
None of that, however, means that Israel is perfect. As different as it is from other countries, in many ways it struggles with the same problems. Extremism and intolerance undoubtedly exist here, too. It’s useless and quite frankly dangerous to pretend otherwise. As much as our fight against Palestinian terrorism is a just one, it should be patently obvious that the fight against Jewish extremism is also vitally important.
In age of social media and online echo chambers, far too many people view the world in black and white, seeing only Palestinian rights or Israeli rights. It’s time for the moderates in the middle to make their voices heard and champion truly universal human rights. We say clearly – murder is murder is murder. Far from undermining our ability to defend Israel, our ability to denounce and combat extreme anti-Jewish violence is strengthened when we make clear our contempt and disgust with those who manipulate Jewish tradition and sully our name with hideous acts of violence.
To them and their supporters, we say unequivocally – those responsible must be caught and brought to justice, just as any terrorist should be.