“Senseless Act of Terror”

Today the bodies of Israeli teenagers Eyal Yifrach, Gilad Shaar, and Naftali Frenkel were discovered in the village of Halhul in the West Bank. They had been bound and executed. They had been dead for some time, and investigators believe they were murdered shortly after they were kidnapped.

I have had to view many a homicide victim over the past six years. I have had to inform families – mothers, fathers, grandparents, siblings, spouses – that their loved ones are never coming home. I have a good idea what the IDF soldiers are going through right now. I have never had that visit from my colleagues to tell me that a member of my family has died, so I can’t say that I know what they are dealing with. I know, however, that it is an indescribable pain. The sights and sounds of a family mourning a lost child is almost unbearable.

According to the timeline of events, Eyal, Gilad, and Naftali were on their way home from Yeshiva (Jewish seminary) when they were taken by force. One of the boys called the emergency line and was able to tell police that they had been kidnapped; the line then went dead. They weren’t heard from again. Millions of Jews and supporters the world over held vigil to pray and hope for their safe return. Today, that hope was shattered. Naftali Frenkel was a dual US-Israeli citizen.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu looked genuinely exhausted and expressed a sadness that few politicians have ever conveyed when he spoke to the press about the news. He vowed to bring the killers to justice. Two Hamas operatives have been missing since the kidnapping. There has been no word on what action Israel will take.

President Obama said, “The United States condemns in the strongest possible terms this senseless act of terror against innocent youth.”

I am tired of hearing the word “senseless” used to describe terrorism. It isn’t senseless. This attack, like all the others before it carried out against innocent Israelis, was not meaningless. We know exactly what these attacks are about. It is about unbridled, uncontrolled hatred against Jews. What for? Jews no longer “know their place.” We refuse to be dhimmis anymore. We won’t stare at the ground out of respect when an Arab passes by. We won’t pay taxes for being the lowest of low infidels. Jews established a homeland in a region we’ve had a presence in for over three millennia and have the nerve to defend it.

There is nothing about this that isn’t simple to explain. To continue to refer to such acts as “senseless” is akin to burying one’s head in the sand. This was an act of pure hatred, one that is sadly familiar to Jews. I am sad to admit this, but even as I prayed desperately for the safe return of the three missing boys, I knew how it would end. It always ends the same way. Palestinian jihadists only know hatred and death.

Golda Meir said, “we will have peace with the Arabs when they love their children more than they hate us.” It is heartbreaking to wonder if she knew how things would turn in Israel’s history.

Reinventing The Truth

My roommate and I have taken in a 15-year-old girl recently. Her mother is a meth addict and her home life has been remarkably unstable; she’s an amazing kid and a very attentive student (and the only living teenage girl I’ve met so far who didn’t know who Grumpy Cat was and didn’t care). One of my primary duties is helping her with homework.

When I sat down for the first time to help her with a world history assignment, I nearly fell over. The teacher had handed out a map that they were to label and color. It was a map of the Mideast as it was during the time of Alexander the Great – and it, like the textbook she was copying from, had the area we know as Israel labeled clearly as Palestine.

This was the first of many untruths that I discovered in her history book – which, notably, was published by National Geographic. The anti-Zionist crowd would proudly crow about such a thing; it’s a blatant lie. At the time of Alexander the Great’s rule over Asia Minor, the name “Palestine” had not even been invented yet. The region was taken over first by the Babylonians, then by the Persians – but it was always home to the Jews and was often referred to as Judea. There was a neighboring “state” known as Philistia, which tried to take Israel over at one point and lost (read about King David’s early life). The Romans took the region from the Persians around 63 BC, but the overwhelming majority of the people in Judea were still Jews. Then, in 70 AD, a major rebellion was mounted. The Bar Kokhba revolt (led by Simon Bar Kochba, who some believed was the promised Messiah at the time) was soundly crushed by the Romans. Emperor Hadrian was infuriated by the continued Jewish rebellions, so he ordered the complete destruction of Jerusalem – including leveling the Second Temple. The Western Wall is all that still stands and is among some of the best archaeological evidence that Jews have had the longest presence in the region.

Hadrian almost immediately made all things Jewish illegal. Religious observations were banned – even to admit you were a Jew could result in execution. Jews had to preserve their history, lineage, and faith in complete secrecy after Hadrian passed down his edicts. Not only that, but he re-named the region known as Judea. It became known as Palestine, after the Philistines that the Israelites had so famously defeated centuries before.

To label the area as Palestine several hundred years before the name came into usage is, I think, deliberate. If the anti-Zionists in education can establish Palestine as a legitimate entity during a period before the current age, then claims that today’s Palestinians have to the area are justified. It’s a slow way to redefine the truth. A slow introduction to half-truths and lies by omission is the only way to get people to accept a lie; Adolf Hitler learned quickly that if you try to introduce an extreme too quickly, the people won’t tolerate it. That was how he ended up in prison. When he got out, he started over, slowly introducing extremes to Germany until they became a way of life.

The same thing has been done by Holocaust deniers. I’ve heard people try to tell me that, in fact, it wasn’t really six million Jews killed in the camps – it was more like one and a half million. That is a partial truth. On a stone marker in front of Auschwitz, visitors can see that one and a half million Jews died in the camp. Of course, that is just the number that died at one single camp, but those who want others to believe that it never happened will start there – as if Auschwitz were the only concentration camp run by the Nazis.

Not only does this girl’s history book dishonestly establish Palestine long before its time, it fails to point out that the Muslims actually invaded Palestine in 632 AD and took it by force from the Byzantine Empire. When the Muslims invaded, they killed off the peasant Arabs living in the area. They had decided that the farmers and shepherds that inhabited the area were inferior and weren’t worthy to own the land. The book barely mentions that the Crusaders targeted Jews on their trek to Jerusalem, instead focusing on the economic and political impacts that the Crusades had on Europe.

Still later in the book, when talking about more modern history, further egregious omissions are made. “Jihad” is defined as “an emotional and spiritual struggle.” When I was 15, my history book rightly defined it as “holy war.” When discussing 9/11, the book describes the 19 hijackers as “international terrorists” rather than telling the truth, that 15 of them were from Saudi Arabia and ALL of them were jihadists. It misrepresents the term “infidels”, claiming that it was the European Crusaders who coined the term to describe Muslims as unbelievers. All of this is done by design to blunt the fact that jihad is alive and well in the Middle East. It is deliberately twisted to blind this generation to the reality that Muslim terrorists are very real, many Muslims aren’t willing to admit it, and we are still in very real danger from their extreme ideology. The book spends far too much time teaching smoke and mirrors about Islam, leaving out key points about the life and beliefs of Muhammad – while practically ignoring the beliefs of Jews.

Hysterically, the book has an exercise called “critical thinking skillbuilder: distinguishing between fact and opinion.”

If only…

What Right Did They Have?

(Author’s Note: my good friend Meredith wrote an excellent piece on the recent emerging stories of journalists being intimidated by members of the Obama administration. Click here, read, and give her some love!)

Someone whose opinion I have long valued just dropped a bomb on me. He no longer believes that the Jews had a right to found the Nation of Israel.

His question to me? “What right did the Jews have to displace the people living in the Palestinian Mandate?”

I’m going to answer that here, because apparently The Economist ignores the fact that Israel has the highest standard of living in the Middle East and believes that Israel had no right to be founded. The common argument has become one of turning the spotlight on us (deflecting is a poor way of winning an argument, by the way) – how would we, as Americans, feel if the Mexicans decided that they wanted to finally carry out Reconquista and take back the Southwestern United States by force? Well, first of all, Mexico wasn’t originally Mexico – it was taken over by the Spaniards, and if you really wanna get technical, there are indigenous people who were murdered and displaced by the ancestors of today’s Mexicans, so really, they don’t have a claim to their own land if you look at it that way.

But I digress.

Nations and cultures the world over have hated the Jews for centuries. If you go back far enough, it really started with Roman Christians a few generations after the crucifixion of Jesus blaming the Jews for “murdering” Him. (Side note: my take on that is that it’s ridiculous to blame the Jews. Jesus Himself didn’t have to die – He could have killed everyone who came for Him with a snap of His fingers, but He made the choice to go to His death willingly because all of mankind needed a way to get to God, and His sacrifice was that way.) This attitude carried over until the mid-1400’s, when Jews were restricted to very, very few professions – one of them being the middle-age version of banking. For centuries, it was one of the only real professions Jews were ever allowed to hold anywhere. They became adept at saving, lending, and larger economic principles because they had to.

Jews scattered to the four corners of the world never lost their longing to return to the Israel that had been founded by Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. In 1881, the First Aliyah began due to severe persecution of Jews worldwide – pogroms in Europe and Russia. In Russia, the assassination of Alexander II ended up being blamed on the Jews and they had to flee en masse. The overwhelming majority of the 3 million or so Jews came to the United States, but about 25,000 went to the area that once was Israel – which, at the time, was ruled by the Ottoman Empire.

At the time, there were already sizable Jewish enclaves in major cities in the area, particularly Jerusalem. The financial industry wasn’t established at all in the region, and most of the new settlers had absolutely no farming experience, so a British lord (whose name escapes me at the moment) gave them some help.

In 1904, the Second Aliyah began – and more than 40,000 Jews immigrated to the region, all expelled from Russia and Yemen. The Kishinev Pogrom kicked it off. In April 1903, an article in an anti-Semitic Russian publication claimed that a boy found dead and a young girl who committed suicide and was declared dead at a Jewish hospital were actually murdered by Jews who wished to use their blood in the preparation of matzah for Passover. The pogrom was led by Russian Orthodox priests and calls to kill the Jews were made as entire Jewish neighborhoods were leveled. By the time it was over, 49 Jews were dead, nearly 600 wounded and thousands were homeless. The very next year, Aliyah began – and in 1905, a second pogrom born of anti-Czar protests left 19 Jews dead, more than 50 wounded and hundreds more homeless.

It should be no surprise that Theodor Herzl would give birth to the World Zionist Organization. Jews were hated everywhere, to the point of mass murder. They needed a home – more than they knew. With the fall of the Ottoman Empire during WWI, the area known as Palestine (so named by the Romans, “Palestina”) became a tribal area with no government. Arabs quarreled with Jews in the area, sometimes had all-out battles with them, but that was nothing new – Jews weren’t wanted anywhere they went. The Russian Revolution led to the murder of 100,000 Jews and another 500,000 being turned out of their homes.

Then came the Nazis and Shoah. The pogroms escalated until Jews were forced out of their businesses, then their homes, then their ghettos – then their lives. between six and eight million Jews were slaughtered by the Nazis (along with three million other “undesirables”, including homosexuals and gypsies). By the time Shoah had begun, there were around 200,000 Jews living in the British Mandate of Palestine. Muslims in the area rioted in 1920, protesting continuing Aliyah. Also, America had enacted severe limitations on immigration and the British were tired of trying to quell Muslim riots against Jewish immigration so they banned Jews from immigrating to the area – the Jews literally had nowhere to go. They had to immigrate in secret.

The area known as Palestine has never been an actual nation. It was originally a tribal region populated by farmers and shepherds until the Muslims came in and slaughtered them all – by 1938, the Palestinians were made up of the descendents of the Muslims who invaded and took the area by force (which led to the Crusades, but that’s a different argument). Jews made up nearly 35% of the population in the region by the end of WWII. Muslims in Palestine were so opposed to the Jews living there that Britain finally had to give up and leave. While the entire area from the Mediterranean all the way to the Eastern border of modern-day Jordan was originally supposed to be Israel, The United Nations had to come up with a compromise. The Jews needed a home, and the Muslims in the Palestinian Mandate hated the Jews just as much as the Russians and Europeans did. Their compromise? Two states: one for the Jews, one for the Muslims. 20% of the land originally promised as Israel became Eretz Israel. The rest became Transjordan.

On May 14, 1948, David Ben Gurion declared Israeli independence. On May 15, every surrounding nation – Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Syria – declared war and attacked Israel. Some 700,000 Palestinians left – many will try to tell you that they were kicked out, but in reality, the majority of them left of their own volition. Only about 100,000 had been expelled from their homes and Israel later offered to allow them to come back, even offered citizenship and full rights as Israeli citizens; they all refused. It was Muslim Palestinians who began the violence against Jews settling in the area, and the Jews had to fight back; eventually they started hitting back afterwards to make it clear that they weren’t going to be pushovers. It still hasn’t ended.

Israel today is more accepting than any other Mideast nation. Whereas gays and lesbians are tortured and killed by Muslims in neighboring countries, they are welcomed in Israel. The Israelis have also contributed more to science, agriculture and economic issues than all of the Islamic republics combined. Yet we have gay groups in America standing against Israel and supporting groups that would murder them if they visited.

Golda Meir, one of my heroes, said quite succinctly, “there will only be peace when the Palestinians decide they love their children more than they hate us.”

What right did they have? I think it’s pretty clear.