(reprinted with permission from the author)
Today we confront the terrible revenge murder of an innocent Palestinian boy, Muhammed Abu Khdeir. Much to our horror six Jews have been arrested for being involved and/or perpetrating this evil deed.
What is our view on this revenge murder?
1. It is an evil forbidden act. Yishai Fraenkel, the uncle of Naftali spoke on behalf of all three families and said, “There is no difference between blood and blood. Murder is murder, whatever the nationality and age are. There is no justification, no forgiving, and no atoning for any murder.”
2. Every human being (Arabs are human beings!!!) is created in God’s image, Betzelem Elokim. When you murder anyone you commit a crime against man and a crime against God. This crime was committed in a particularly ghoulish way. The thought of Jews burning the body of their victim (possibly when he was still alive) sickens me.
3. When a Jew is murdered because he was a Jew we say Hashem Yakum Damo, may Hashem avenge his blood. We believe in revenge. Revenge is not our domain. We say that God is our avenger.
4. So how can we defend Israeli government and the IDF when it acts in response to terror or targeted killings of terrorists? Every government must protect its citizens. Killing murderers is part of the defense of the nation. A democratic government founded on the principles of justice and morality must do that. I would be happy to see the murderers of our three boys dead. But that is the job of the Israeli government.
5. Muhammed Abu Khdeir was not a criminal. He was a random target of revenge by the demented minds of his Jewish killers. By any standards that is not revenge. That is murder! The killers must be punished with the most severe sentence that Israeli law mandates.
6. Someone who takes the law into his own hands undermines the rule of law and the social contract upon which Israeli society in based. Isaiah said that Zion will be redeemed by justice. This murder is not justice. It is, in the words of Isaiah: God hoped for the Jews to do justice and instead they were a blight. These people have undermined their country in a devastating way.
7. If they are observant they have committed a terrible chilul Hashem. In reality, if they did this, they are not observant Jews. Even if they are not observant what they did is a chillul Hashem! All Jews are identified willy-nilly with the Torah.
8. They are “rodfim.” They have put every Jew in Israel and every Jew throughout the world in mortal danger. Everyone can see how quickly the world jumped on Israel about this murder even before anything was proven. They have not been so tough on Assad of Syria. If the point of these murderers in their warped minds was to teach that Jewish blood is not “hefker,” then they accomplished the exact opposite. They have made Jewish blood “hefker”!!!!
9. According to the news reports, the killers are all boys, some minors. Who is to blame? Certainly they committed the crime and they must bear the consequences of their actions. But there are demagogues out there like Itamar ben Gvir who use a rhetoric of violence. They inspire young people whose adrenaline is flowing, whose hormones are active, and whose blood is boiling, to act. And when they act and are caught they get punished and rot in jail. What a waste of their young lives. But the demagogue goes free and continues to incite.
10. Let us not forget Shelly Dadon, a young woman from Migdal HaEmek whose murder two months ago has just been solved. She was murdered in Afulah by an Israeli Arab cab driver because she was Jewish.
11. There is some light in this story. We are still different from our Arab enemies. We pursue the murderers of Arabs and do not hide them the way the Arabs protect the murderers of Jews. We do not celebrate the murder of an innocent Arab boy the way the Arabs in Gaza celebrated the murder of our three sons. We bring our criminals to justice. They do not do the same with theirs. They name streets after the murderers of Jews. The Israelis from across the political and religious spectrum have condemned Muhammed’s murder in the strongest possible terms. Israeli Arab MKs refused to condemn the murder of our three boys. Give Mr. Abbas credit; he condemned the abduction and murder of our boys. And finally we did not tear up the streets of Ramallah, Bet Lechem, Jenin, etc. after the murder of our boys. We cried and mourned. The Arab mobs have wreaked havoc in the streets despite the fact that Israel is determined to find and punish the killers of Muhammed.
May God have mercy on Israel and protect Zion from its enemies. May God have mercy on all of us.
By Rabbi Heshie Billet