It is not that I am unfamiliar with death. My father died when I was young and my career path included working with men and women living and dying with AIDS and cancer. I am very familiar with death and not fearful of my own death. But I am shaken by the deaths of my people in my beloved country, victims of terrorists driven by hate and taught that when they take the life of a Jew, that they are heroes. We witness, time and time again, government inertia and leadership fearful of criticism from abroad.
Not only am I shaken, but I feel anger that so many of my people (all Jews are my people) have been murdered by death cult jihadists. Because terrorism is so random…..a terrorist with a knife can strike anywhere at any time….we all live with heart pounding anxiety as the first reports of an attack come to our attention. Is it someone we know? A family member? A friend? Colleague? Because we are a small country, there often are only one or two degrees of separation among us. Somehow, we are all connected and each attack, each death leaves us drained and angry. For many of us, the murder of Ari Fuld z”l pulled together a community of mourning with his family. Ari’s ability to connect with people was astounding, as was his heroic last act. His work on behalf of our people and our nation inspires us to ask questions, challenge the status quo, and never, ever stop fighting for this nation.
Just three weeks later the murder of two co-workers at Barkan by a fellow employee again left us stunned. The video of Minister of Education Naftali Bennet hugging the mother of Kim Levengrond Yehezkel z”l was heartbreaking as she sobbed in his arms. Minister of Defense Avigdor Lieberman and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visiting shiva homes, over and over again, might provide comfort and a sign of respect for the families, but it is hard to avoid the question: what will you do to save lives?
The ongoing rioting of Hamas terrorists at our border leaves us with the same question. The citizens live along the border with the constant threat of terrorism and the fear that the fence will be breached. They have watched wildlife die and agricultural lands destroyed. They live with the smell of smoke in their nostrils, and with their children inhaling smoke, continuously as terrorists in Gaza set tires on fire and launch incendiary devices. Now the incendiary devices are bigger and better. This has been going on for months. Do we know the effect this will have on the health of the residents near the Gaza border? Asthma? High blood pressure caused by hyperalertness? Future PTSD? To the Prime Minister and the Minister of Defense: what will you do to save lives?
And what about our soldiers who act on orders from above? These young men and women, the children and grandchildren of our friends and family or our own children, deserve clarity of mission and orders consistent with the goal of defending and protecting our people. Are the resources in place so that they can do their jobs? Is there a definitive plan to stop the incursions at the border and the constant terrorist attacks that led to a breach of the fence last week, with mobs screaming “kill the Jews”? Our soldiers deserve strong leadership and policies so that they can do their jobs. We are a thankful nation; thankful that our young men and women work hard and risk their lives to protect us, day in and day out. They deserve better leadership.
This is not political. I have voted for the Prime Minister and remain a dues paying member of Likud. It actually saddens me greatly to have to write this and to have to challenge the Prime Minister and Defense Minister. But what saddened me more was standing with thousands at the Kfar Etzion cemetery at Ari Fuld’s levaya, not quite yet believing that he was gone. What saddened me more was watching Ezra Schwartz z”l be eulogized back in Massachusetts after he was murdered by a terrorist. What saddens me more is the vision of the Salomon and Henkin families….two families destroyed by terrorism. There are so many names and terrorist attacks, just in the four years since I made aliyah, that the list goes on and on.
This nation is my home and always will be. I, like millions of us here, am not leaving. Our return from exile, the largest return of indigenous people to their homeland in history, is for eternity. We are going nowhere. That is not debatable. What is debatable is how we will live here. How we will stand up to enemies that have sworn to destroy us. And how our leadership will take the reins and fight back.
In my heart, I know that the Prime Minister and the Minister of Defense and almost all members of Knesset are equally pained by the ongoing situation at the border and the burst of stabbings and shootings that are occurring. As I am writing this, an attack in the Shomron has been reported. Another day, another terrorist attack. Yes, I know they are pained by this. But their jobs require them to do more than feel emotions. Their jobs require that they do everything in their power with the resources at hand to get control of this situation. If not, many more of us will die as our enemies sense weakness.
So I leave you with the same question for our Prime Minister and the Minister of Defense: what will you do to save lives?