In times of war, when daily doses of death and destruction are the norm, one learns to steel oneself against the tide of bad news. Particularly since the terrorist attacks of 9/11 and the many horrors committed by our enemies in the years since, it often feels as if nothing’s shocking anymore. Yet occasionally something pierces the armor that we’ve constructed about ourselves and reminds us just what we’re up against.
The tragic death of Florida teenager
was one such instance.
Daniel was visiting family in Tel Aviv for Passover last month, when he was seriously injured in a suicide bombing at the restaurant where he and his father were having lunch. They were two of sixty innocents injured, on top of the nine who were killed. Daniel remained in a coma for several weeks, only waking up once, before succumbing to his injuries on May 14.
American-born Israeli novelist and playwright
became personally invested in Daniel’s recovery and her writings on the subject touched a nerve. Following the bombing, she sent out several e-mails to her mailing list asking members to pray for Daniel’s recovery and to send messages of support to his family. As a result, his family received hundreds of such e-mails and expressed their profuse gratitude. When the news came that Daniel had woken up briefly, it seemed as if all those prayers had been answered. But sadly, it was not meant to be.
The last message sent out on the subject included the eloquent words of
Rabbi Michael Gold
of Temple Beth Torah, Tamarac Jewish Center in Florida. Rabbi Gold visited Daniel’s Hebrew Day School and spoke to the students he’d known. When faced with the moral relativism so common among the youth these days, the rabbi told them this: "There are absolute standards of good and evil. The deliberate taking of innocent life to advance a political cause is always wrong, in every culture and every society."
Such moral clarity is in stark contrast to the sentiments of Abu Nasser, a senior leader of the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, which along with the Islamic Jihad was one of the terrorist groups involved in plotting the attack that ultimately killed Daniel. Nasser
rejoiced in the news
saying that he was, "sorry there was not more of this stuff. American and Zionist – this is the best target combination we could dream of. This is the ideal target. He is a young American who came to encourage the enemy to continue his war against us."
to either be wounded or killed by Palestinian terrorists, but such crimes against humanity should be condemned, whether the targets are American, Israeli or anyone else.
Yet somehow when it comes to Jewish deaths, there are still those who dismiss them as some kind of deserved end. Apparently any Jew inhabiting or visiting Israel, whatever their nationality, is fair game in their view. Meanwhile, Palestinians can get away with any atrocity (even when their own people are on the receiving end) and there will always be those willing to turn a blind eye.
Furthermore, far too many in the Jewish community seem to believe that they can avoid such violence by ingratiating themselves with their enemies. Author and talk show host Dennis Prager devoted
a recent column
to trying to explain this very pathology. But Jews’ enemies do not differentiate between the secular or the devout, the young or the old, the civilian or the warrior. As Islamic Jihad senior member Abu Ayman
, "The meaning and the goal of our lives is to fight the devil spiritually and physically. The Jews are the expression of both kinds of devil. No mercy for devils."
Still, all too often, appeasement continues to be the order of the day. Indeed, as Israel’s new Prime Minister Ehud Olmert visits the U.S. asking for funding so that his government can continue to expel Jews from their homes, one can only shake their head and wonder what has happened to the Jewish people? What happened to the warrior spirit, the pride and the ability to overcome even the most insurmountable odds? Have Jews been so crippled by the self-loathing endemic to years of leftist indoctrination that they no longer have the will to survive?
A glimmer of hope can be found in a Washington D.C. rally timed to coincide with Olmert’s meeting with the Bush administration. The “anti-retreat” rally on May 23 was the brainchild of Jonathan Silverman, who with the help of groups such as B’nai Elim, Chabad, Women in Green, AFSI, Manhigut Yehuditin and the local chapter of the ZOA, organized the rally in order to urge the US government not to fund further Israeli withdrawals and concessions. But ultimately, it’s up to the Israelis to chart their own course.
Let’s hope they do so wisely. For Jews owe it to Daniel’s memory to stand up for themselves and for the existence of a Jewish State.
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