A virtue that Judaism teaches is of utmost importance is giving a person the benefit of the doubt, which involves remembering that there are at least two sides to every story. Which is why I’m dismayed that many Jews fail to give their fellow Jews, who are known as “settlers,” the benefit of the doubt.
This week a group of Jews were captured and beaten by a group of Arabs. Many accounts of the beating from Jewish sources were extremely biased. The Jews were promptly labeled “price-taggers” out for revenge. Because after all, it seems according to the liberal mindset, a Jew living in a settlement can’t walk near an Arab settlement, hell they can’t even look towards an Arab settlement, without having malevolent intentions of price-tag revenge in their heads.
But if you are open-minded, as most liberal Jews pride themselves in being, then perhaps you would be interested in hearing the other side of the story. The side given by the father, Rabbi Chaim Richman, of two women who live in Eish Kodesh, where the episode began.
On January 7th, IDF and Israeli police arrived in Eish Kodesh and destroyed orchards and vineyards and confiscated and/or destroyed farming equipment belonging to two of the residents, who together sustained over 80,000 NIS in damages and financial loss. The destruction was ordered by Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon.
As one might imagine, news quickly spread about the events that had transpired in Eish Kodesh. Residents from other communities quickly emerged to show their support and express their outrage at the government-sponsored destruction. And please, before Peace Now supporters get carried away with applause over the destruction, keep one little detail in mind. As Rabbi Richman reminds us, “The land upon which Eish Kodesh sits, by all accounts and even according to the maps of the extreme left, is acknowledged as Israeli land.” Yet, despite this fact, Arabs claimed the land was theirs. And the Israeli government of appeasement, despite any legal documents to back the claim, destroyed the livelihood of Jewish citizens.
The group of Jews who were captured and beaten by Arabs were reported as being settlers out for revenge. Yet, here is the other side of the story recounted by Rabbi Chaim Richman:
“The Palestinian locals were greatly emboldened by the way the Jews of Eish Kodesh were treated by Israeli security forces. A large group of Jews, led by a resident of Eish Kodesh, decided to hike through the adjacent hills in order to show that they consider this area to be their home, they will not stop living here, nor live in fear. A number of weeks earlier, a similar hike had taken place along the same route without incident.
“The hike was peaceful. The entire group was completely unarmed. The purpose of the hike was to declare: We live here. We will not be afraid.
“The participants in this hike had no intention of committing any ‘price tag’ act of revenge or intimidation against the local Palestinians. They did not walk to the village of Kusrah and had no intention of entering the village.
“Near the outskirts of the village the group was ambushed by a mob of hundreds of Arabs who blocked their way and set upon them. This mob forced the group into an unfinished building outside the village, where they bound them and proceeded to beat them with their fists as well as with clubs and pipes. One of the Jewish men lost consciousness (and was subsequently hospitalized . . . and arrested!). After 40 minutes, the IDF arrived and ‘convinced’ the mob to release the group; until they were released the beatings continued under the noses of the soldiers, who did nothing to stop them. Some of the Jews were arrested; none of the members of the Arab mob were arrested, although they had kidnapped and beaten the Jewish group.
“It is an absolute miracle that none of the hikers were killed. They suffered horrible beatings. Photographs of the bloodied and broken Jews, bound and prostrate, taken by members of the Arab mob, have been widely circulated on their Facebook pages.”
And that folks, is the rest of the story. But whether you believe this side of the story, or the liberal press side of the story only matters to a certain extent. Because there is another story told by a Jew named Jeremiah, and let’s just say, despite what anyone believes about it, no one can change the contents or the outcome of his story.
Jeremiah’s story involves another Jewish parent who was upset over the treatment of her children. So Jeremiah consoled this upset parent, who was Rachel, and promised, “There is hope for your future – the word of Hashem – and your children will return to their border.”
The border that Jeremiah mentions is not the border Peace Now, liberal anarchists, or U.S. & European governments envision. In fact, I don’t recall Jeremiah ever mentioning “1967 borders” to Rachel. No, indeed. The border that will be established for Jews to live on is a great, big fat border that includes Eish Kodesh. No one can change that no matter how hard they try. No one.