A few weeks ago, Shmuel Sackett argued that Arabs who support acts of terror in Eretz Yisrael must immediately and permanently be expelled and their property seized. In response, I said that I would expect he would take the same position concerning Jews who support such conduct directed toward Arabs. I was being flippant because I knew he would not take such a position. Not surprisingly, my usual critics had a meltdown.
Then came the violence by Israeli Jewish “settlers” in Hawara, where they indiscriminately torched homes and motor vehicles, resulting in the death of one Palestinian. I waited to comment about the violence because I wanted to see how Sackett and Rabbi Schonfeld would respond. Now that they have, in last week’s QJL, when they criticized the Orthodox Union’s statement regarding the incident, I will make my comments.
The entire statement by the Orthodox Union, made on February 27, was: “How can such a thing happen? How could it come to this, that Jewish young men should ransack and burn homes and cars? We can understand the profound anguish at the horrific murder of young and dear friends. We can appreciate the frustration with the ongoing attacks on Jews and the lack of a decisive and effective army response. But we cannot understand or accept this. Attacking a village does not deserve to be called ‘taking the law into your own hands.’ This is not the law; this is undisciplined and random fury. Actions like these demonstrate the critical need for clear and strong leadership. We need to speak consistently and clearly, pledging security and a decisive response to those who commit acts of terror and violence against Jews, but absolutely condemning and decrying indiscriminate violence committed by Jews against anyone, anywhere. What happened yesterday must never, ever happen again.”
Moshe Hill, two weeks ago, also correctly stated that “this is 100% unacceptable and every one of those people should be arrested and tried to the fullest extent of the law. Regardless of how anyone feels about an injustice or an evil that has occurred, there is no excuse for vigilantism and terror against others.”
Rabbi Schonfeld, in an appropriately titled column “V’nahafoch Hu” (Upside Down), instead of agreeing with the Orthodox Union, an organization in which he and his father had been so involved, criticized them. He referred to their response “…let’s be generous, highly objectionable.” He agreed with Likud MK Tali Gottlieb that the correct response was that today was not the day to condemn the Jewish rioting. “Perhaps one day.” My response is in the words of Pirkei Avos: “If not now, when?” We should wait and then maybe condemn later? What will that accomplish?
We see the importance of a timely response from the story of Purim. Although the King’s degree allowing Haman and his supporters to destroy the Jewish people would not take effect for eleven months, Queen Esther asked that the people should fast for three days even though it was the beginning of Pesach.
Furthermore, if we follow Rabbi Schonfeld’s approach, the silence will be construed as if we are agreeing with the conduct.
Shmuel Sackett didn’t shock me by stating that “The town of Hawara got what they deserved, and the next time a brick is thrown, the response will even more severe… and if the Jihadists in Hawara want war… they will get it.” The irony is if you want to apply his rule about kicking out and seizing the property of those who engage in terror and those who support it, then some may say that this should also apply to him.
Besides the attack being morally objectionable, it has political ramifications that hurt Israel’s standing in the world, especially in the United States. It makes the government look weak. In the words of Sackett, “political sisses.” Anarchy and groups engaging in random violence is not helpful to the smooth running of a country.
Although there have been extreme individuals who are anti-Israel such as Ilan Omar, they are looked upon as a fringe group. This attack will be used by those who hate Israel as proof that the “settlers” are out of control and the government cannot protect the Palestinians. Also, the comments made by Sackett and others justifying it will be used by Israel’s enemies to indicate that even in the future, Palestinians are not safe because of these radicals.
Silence at this time is not an option. We cannot afford to wait for the right time. The Orthodox Union and others who have spoken out to condemn the attack are trying to limit the damage that this action has caused. Instead of being condemned, they should be congratulated for taking a tough stand. No one likes to criticize their own. However, when it is necessary and is done, people then take you more seriously when you criticize Israel’s foes.