Maurice Silber

Terrorism, unity, and the heifer

If a slain man is found in the land which the Lord your God gives to you to possess it, lying in the field, his slayer unknown, then your elders and your judges shall go out and measure the cities which are around the slain man ….. And (they) shall wash their hands over a heifer … and they shall say, “Our hands have not shed this blood, nor did our eyes see it. Forgive Your nation, Israel, whom You redeemed, Lord, and do not lay innocent blood amongst Your people, Israel.” And the blood shall be forgiven them. (Deut. 21:1-9)

This passage from the Bible is extraordinarily relevant to the current situation here in Israel due to what seems to be an endless barrage of terror attacks and tragedies. We learn that the Elders and Judges must take responsibility when a murdered person is discovered between two cities. Why must only the Elders and the Judges bring the Heifer but not others? Because the responsibility of keeping the unity of the people of Israel lies in their hands.

So how far are we today from unity?

It is clumsy and scandalous when the first thing that the opposition leader Yair Lapid felt he had to do after his coalition was defeated, was to rush to the United States to meet with Jewish community leaders and lobbyists and to try to convince them that the new coalition will not hold. Forgotten is the sacrosanct rule that a politician does not criticize his own country when he is abroad. Everything looks as if Lapid wants to take the power back despite having lost the elections. All noisy means are good for that purpose, including an endless stream of demonstrations against the government.

It is also clumsy when the newly elected government proposes to pass a controversial law immediately upon arrival. Why not take the time for a round of discussions across the political spectrum? Why not respond to the call of the president of the State of Israel who proposed a period of consultations?

Shocking is the behavior of some of the commission’s opponents to the Law, who violently climbed onto the tables during a discussion in the commission’s room, rushing and shouting at the commission’s president to oppose the new proposed law. Are we still a respectable democracy, or have we become gesticulating monkeys?

Astonishing is the attitude of Itamar Ben Gvir, the security minister of the government, losing all self-control and shouting in front of live cameras against the heads of the Police as if they were little children, while the entire nation was reeling in shock – and the bodies of the two young brothers murdered at a bus station, not yet buried.

It is also clumsy to propose a law introducing the death penalty for terrorists, knowing that it can never be applied, there is no need to explain why. Only Iran can sentence and hang dissidents without any consideration to the reactions of the international community, but Israel definitely not, even for murderous terrorist acts.

Our political leaders must calm down and focus on tackling the root causes of terrorism. The author of these lines does not claim to have a miraculous solution (one probably does not exist); but it is important to remember that since 1967, 56 years have passed, during which three new generations have been influenced by social media and terrorist propaganda alike. They are easily manipulated because they have never known anything other than “Israeli occupation.” Their education system skips over the fact that the land they consider “occupied” was previously governed by Jordan without any incident, not to mention the fact that this is the land of our forefathers. These terrorists, young people between the ages of 13 and 20, have not even begun their lives but they are looking for glory in death over finding joy in life.

We must address these issues as a matter of the highest priority, together with the uncompromising hunt against terrorism before more heinous acts are committed. The fear with which our brothers in Judea and Samaria live now, is in itself terror.

The unity of the people of Israel has always been the spearhead of the State of Israel; it must remain so. Let us remember David Ben-Gurion, who made the controversial decision to sink the Altalena during the War of Independence to avoid creating division within the embryonic army’s high command. Let us not forget the unity of our Nation during both the Six Day War and the Yom Kippur War

If we do not remain united and determined, we will lose the war against terrorism. This is precisely the message the Bible teaches us: the unity of the Jewish people must be protected by the Elders and by the Judges. If we do not quickly learn this lesson and continue to remain divided, we can rest assured that the terrorists will not have to worry about their future, we will finish the job for them.

The two families of the slain brothers, along with all innocent victims of terror, have paid the most terrible price. May this remind our leaders and politicians of just how big their obligation is to protect the unity of the Nation of Israel.

May they be able to say : “Our hands have not shed this blood, nor did our eyes see it. Forgive Your nation, Israel, whom You redeemed, Lord, and do not lay innocent blood amongst Your people, Israel.”

About the Author
Maurice Silber is a French-Israeli legal adviser and strategy consultant. He was a special adviser to SodaStream when the company faced a boycott from BDS. He was part of the team that testified before the US Congress in Washington about the boycott, which led to Federal anti-BDS legislation. He currently advises other Israeli companies on community relations and BDS.
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