Yotam Ovadia, a 31-year-old father of two, was fatally stabbed last week by a Palestinian teenager.
The attack was horrific, inhumane and utterly unfathomable to those of us who live in the relative safety of North America. But the attack did not take place in a vacuum. In the same week that Yotam died, the leader of the Palestinian Authority vowed to continue payments to ‘martyrs’, incendiary devices launched from Gaza destroyed thousands of acres of Israeli farmland, a top Hamas official urged his followers to kill Zionists wherever they could find them, Muslim worshippers hurled rocks at police guarding the Temple Mount, a Jordanian columnist blamed earthquakes in the region on Israeli weapon-testing and a survey of the new textbooks being used in Palestinian schools shows continuing demonization of Jews and encouragement to strike at Jewish targets.
No, the attack should come as no surprise given the depth of the institutionally-reinforced Jew-hatred in Palestinian society. The Israeli military will respond to this attack in an appropriate manner but the army cannot by itself address or begin to undo the irrationalism of Palestinian society. Perhaps, as Gil Troy put it so eloquently last week in the Jerusalem Post, what the Palestinians need is another Nelson Mandela, a person who can convince Palestinians that their best and only hope for a better future is to live in peace with their neighbours.
Until that very brave ‘Messiah’ emerges, or until Israel can formulate a military response that achieves the required result without poisoning its geo-political position, Israel’s priority must be to protect the country as best as it can, given the constraints under which it must operate. We should thank G-d every day that Tzahal is up to that task.
But those of us who reside in the Diaspora can also do our part to protect the vulnerable communities in Judea and Samaria. The army cannot be everywhere at every moment but we can help provide Israelis with the resources and materials they need to protect themselves. One Israel Fund was established for this very purpose, to raise the funds needed to provide these vulnerable communities in our Biblical Heartland with the items they need to protect themselves and to live normal, fruitful lives. Its preventive security projects include armored vests for civilian security chiefs and medics, border defense measures such as surveillance cameras, high-powered lighting and communication equipment. It also funds playgrounds, schools, community centers, synagogues and the like to improve and enrich these communities with the items needed to thrive. The communities of Judea and Samaria and their nearly 500,000 citizens of Israel are the vanguard of Israel’s security and sovereignty as a Jewish State.
One Israel Fund is also raising money for to build a state-of-the-art medical center in Sha’ar Binyamin (approximately 15km from Jerusalem’s city center but, often-times over an hour drive by ambulance). If that center were already in operation, it is conceivable that Yotam Ovadia might have survived, given the proximity of Sha’ar Binyamin to the site of the attack.
I only recently learned about One Israel Fund and how it fills in gaps in vital humanitarian projects. The same projects which many other, larger Jewish agencies provide throughout Israel but rarely in these parts. Unfortunately, many of these items are more needed here than anywhere else throughout Israel. I’m now a big fan and I invite our readers to do the research themselves, learn about the good work One Israel Fund has been doing for the past quarter century, and perhaps most importantly, see what you can do through the fund to help the courageous Israelis who need our help.