Monday, June 27th | 28 Sivan 5782

July 4, 2014 10:41 am

Too Many Memorials and Too Many Tears

avatar by David Algaze

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at slain teens' funeral (screenshot

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at slain teens' funeral (screenshot

We have had too many memorials, too many tears shed. It’s time to create a proper response for our times. The tragic end of the three boys has come as a blow to the entire nation and the Household of Israel. We have all fallen victims to a cruel and ruthless sword.

We had hoped that we would be celebrating their return home and instead we are broken-hearted and left to ponder what is the proper response to this heinous, malicious, and brutal murder. Words are too inadequate to describe our pain. Human language has no capacity to encompass the meaning of this vicious crime in words or comprehension and, even when spoken, words will always be found wanting.

Now the vacuous, the vaporous, and the hollow statements are heard: “A threat to peace;” “Restraint on all sides;” “The sadness to both peoples” – such statements betray the memory of these beautiful boys. If anything, their death is a sacrifice, a moment in history that calls for reflection and response. They did die “al Kiddush Hashem”, sanctifying G-d’s Name for sure but how is G-d sanctified in this case? G-d surely takes no pleasure in the death of the righteous, so how is His Name sanctified with this murder? The only possible reason for their death is that their tragedy will engender something special in their people, a reaction that will indeed give meaning to their sacrifice. That is the response we must articulate and ideally it should unite the entire Jewish nation as we execute it.

The usual response in our history has been to endure and to persevere and this is also appropriate now. The continuity of Jewish settlement in our Land and the expansion of Jewish life and creativity everywhere are essential today as in earlier times, but they are not enough. Today, Israel has the capacity to act in order to prevent future tragedies, something that was impossible through the 2,000 years of Exile.

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The best honor we can give Eyal, Gilad, and Naftali is to ensure that there are no more victims as they were. The world will counsel Israel on what to do or not do, but only Israel can fashion its response in the manner that serves its interests best and particularly in order to protect the lives of its citizens and of Jews everywhere. We need to support Israel in whatever it decides and to encourage it to act without fear of international repercussions. We need to mobilize ourselves to tell our elected officials in America and the rest of the world that they too must lend support to Israel it acts to deter future terrorist violence.

Jews have always been regarded as if they were a sheep to be slaughtered, and we have accepted this image in our long years of Exile. This has to end. The world is happy to build us memorials and Holocaust museums but is unhappy to witness a vibrant and strong Jewish life in the land of our national birth. The divestment and deligitimization campaigns are also responsible for this tragedy, as are the preachers of a hateful Islam and those who silently acquiesce to their teachings and incitement to violence.

What culture can celebrate the kidnapping of innocent children? What kind of culture can produce mothers that distribute candies to rejoice in the kidnapping of Jews? Part of our response has to be to encourage people to look at Islam, read the Koran, and ascertain the influence that it has on those who create murder. We should pay more attention to those who preach violence and condemn those who refuse to acknowledge this and condemn it.

Some Jewish leaders are concerned about Islamophobia to the detriment of an honest and unbiased view of the influence of Islam on the present generation. This must stop too. An honest assessment of the meaning of jihad and its role in Islam, especially as read in Islamist circles, must be an essential part of our response to this crisis.

Therefore, let our reaction to this tragedy be not only memorial services and more Kaddish. We do not need more Kaddishes, more memorials, more weeping and more tears. We need a radical rethinking of the situation that created these murders, the society that produced them, and the atmosphere in which preaching hatred has been perpetrated.

We need an analysis of those who wish to harm us and, above all, a challenge to an Israeli government afraid of its shadow and concerned about the world response.  Memorials do nothing to prevent tragedies, but they make us feel we have done something and that is the greatest danger. We have a lot of work ahead and we cannot sleep nor slumber while our enemies plot our harm.

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