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When the terrorist is one of our own

My mother prayed: 'Please don't let it be a Jew who did this terrible thing' -- what do I do when it's too late to pray?
Relatives of Aisha Rabi mourn at the family home during her funeral in the West Bank village of Biddya, October 13, 2018. (AP Photo/ Majdi Mohammed)
Relatives of Aisha Rabi mourn at the family home during her funeral in the West Bank village of Biddya, October 13, 2018. (AP Photo/ Majdi Mohammed)

I got my first lesson in what it means to be part of the Jewish people when I was 6 years old.

When President Kennedy was assassinated, my parents grieved as if a member of our family died. Before the identity of the assassin was known, amid shock and tears, my mother said again and again, “Please don’t let it be a Jew who did this terrible thing.”

She feared the backlash of anti-Semitism that would result. But there was more. The shame would be unbearable.

My mother understood that the actions of each Jew reflect on all Jews. That for better or for worse, we are bound to each other. Or, as Yossi Klein Halevi would say, decades later: We are a community of fate.

It’s a lesson I never forgot.

Over the years, there have been countless opportunities to burst with pride over Jewish achievements in the US, Israel, everywhere. All those Nobel prizes! The daring rescue at Entebbe! Israel’s lightning victory in the Six Day War! The Start-Up Nation! IsraAid’s amazing humanitarian work!

But the Jewish people also include despicable individuals, such as Harvey Weinstein and Bernie Madoff. Not only am I revolted by their actions, I’m ashamed that they are Jews. We are supposed to be a light unto the nations. Not sexual predators. Not financial predators.

And we are not supposed to be the sort of people that hurl stones at a moving car and murder innocent people.

Which brings me to the Jewish teen who is the key suspect in a stoning attack that killed a Palestinian woman in the West Bank on October 12, 2018.

I want to repeat my mother’s fervent prayer, “Please don’t let it be a Jew who did this terrible thing.” But it might be too late for that.

I have written many blog posts about Jewish victims of Palestinian terror. Hallel Ariel, stabbed to death in her bed. Ezra Schwartz, shot to death while bringing care packages to Israeli soldiers. Newborn baby Chaya Zissel Braun, murdered when a man rammed his car into a crowd. Jewish men, stabbed to death while praying in their synagogue. The Salamon family stabbed to death at their Shabbat table. A nameless elderly woman, also stabbed. Soldiers rammed by a truck while standing at the Tayelet in Jerusalem. Ari Fuld.

This time, when the murder victim is a Palestinian and the suspect an Israeli Jew, shall I avert my eyes and change the subject?

I think not.

The victim was Aisha Rabi. She was a married mother of eight, 47 years old.

What enables a person to hurl a rock toward the windshield of a car in which innocent people are riding?

The same thing that enables a person to drive their car into a crowd, plunge their knife into strangers, shoot an innocent person.

They have no empathy for the suffering they are about to inflict because they see their victims as prey, not as human beings like themselves.

The pictures of the shattered windshield and its gaping hole are sickening. Now imagine that stone shattering the skull of Aisha Rabi.Imagine her horrified husband trying to stop the car and get help for his mortally wounded wife. Imagine the children whose mother was ripped from their lives, no warning and no goodbye.

One of our people, our youth, is suspected of doing this terrible thing.

The Shin Bet arrested him after months of investigation. I hope their investigation yields the information they need to crack down on hate crimes — to apprehend not only the perpetrators but anyone who incites such hatred.

Please don’t let it be a Jew that did this terrible thing… ever again.

About the Author
Sally Abrams co-directs the Speakers Bureau of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas. She has presented the program “Israel and the Middle East: the Challenge of Peace” at hundreds of churches, schools and civic groups throughout the Twin Cities and beyond. A resident of suburban Minneapolis, Sally speaks fluent Hebrew, is wild about the recipes of Yotam Ottolenghi, the music of Idan Raichel, and is always planning her next trip to Israel. Visit: sallygabrams.com
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