One of the most amazing parts of living in Israel, is the feeling that you are part of one giant family. The feeling that you have a connection and a bond even with the stranger sitting next to you on the bus. As anyone who lives here knows, whether they are native born or an immigrant, that the warm, sweet feeling can turn cold and bitter very quickly, as it did for all of us when we woke up this morning.
Overnight, in Gush Etzion, a terrorist butchered Dvir Sorek, a 19 year old yeshiva student from Ofra who was soon to begin his army service. The IDF, Shin Bet and Israeli police are currently in the process of a massive manhunt to bring the killer to justice, and residents of the towns in the area are on high alert. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was quoted as saying “The security forces are in pursuit, in order to capture the despicable terrorist and hold him to account”. While the sentiment is well received, it can’t dull the sting of yet another one of our young men and women being savagely ripped from us. The only solace one can possibly take at a time like this is in the knowledge that we have not become numb to these tragedies.
When an Arab terrorist murders an Israeli in what some erroneously call “the occupied territories”, many armchair humanitarians will smugly claim that all enemy soldiers are fair game. Dvir was in an IDF program, but the terrorist had no way of knowing that. Dvir was unarmed, wearing civilian clothing and carrying books. He wasn’t cradling an M-16 and wearing body armor, he was just on his way back to his yeshiva to continue studying Torah and spending time with his friends. The terrorist saw a 19 year old Jew and decided to kill him. Dvir Sorek wasn’t a soldier in the eyes of the person who killed him, he was just a kid.
Now a family is shattered, a community is in mourning, and the entire Jewish nation mourns with them. The world needs to know, needs to be made to understand that this has nothing to do with “occupation” or “withholding funds” or with “blockades.” It has nothing to do with the 1967 borders, or with the building of settlements. These attacks are not in response to things that happened in 2019, or 1967 or even 1948, because the exact same type of attacks were being carried out in 1921, 1929 and 1936. There was no State of Israel then. There were no “occupied territories” and no United Nations Human Rights Council, yet the attacks happened anyway.
The root causes of these attacks run far deeper than the simplistic oppressor/oppressed dynamic that Western pundits, politicians and provocateurs promote and cling to, despite vast quantities of historical evidence to the contrary. This cavalier attitude among people around the world to the routine murder of Jewish people in Israel didn’t begin with Israel, it has existed for millennia. Crusaders casually rampaged through Jewish villages, looting, raping and murdering while on their way to do the same to Muslims, in a sort of morbid, bloodthirsty medieval form of a rest stop. Who were Jews oppressing then? Around the same time that the Crusaders were killing Jews for sport across Europe, the Almohad Caliphate rose to power and immediately set about dismantling the Jewish communities in southern Spain, bringing to an end what is sometimes referred to as a “Golden Age” for Jews there. Jews were ordered to convert to Islam, and all those who refused were slaughtered or exiled. Which territories were we occupying in the 12th century?
These are just a few of the countless examples throughout history of the total disregard for Jewish lives. There is always some flimsy excuse given for why we have to be expelled or exterminated, but at the end of the day, the people giving the excuses seem to revel in the carnage and pain they cause, whether they achieve their stated goals or not. I imagine that the murderer who killed Dvir Sorek is very proud of himself, and felt immense satisfaction while carrying out his foul act. The most disgusting part is that this terrorist didn’t think he was killing an enemy combatant, he thought he was killing a Jewish kid.
There is something important that we must all remember when people callously tell us that we deserve what we get from terrorists because of our “misdeeds”. They are the same type of people who were telling us that we deserved to be expelled from Arab lands, that we deserved the Holocaust, that we deserved the Cossack’s pogroms, that we deserved the Inquisition, and that we deserved the massacres during the Crusades. This idea must be strongly challenged and rejected by the Jewish people, because we do not deserve to have to bury our children the way the parents of Dvir Sorek have to bury theirs.