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Let Them Know That We 'Stand With Israel'
For much of the world's media, the latest atrocity produced by the Palestinian war against Israel is just another tit-for-tat example of violence in which both sides behave badly.
Thus, the eight young Torah scholars slaughtered mercilessly by a Palestinian gunman have become mere statistics in a conflict that is seemingly without end. After all, we are told, many Palestinians have died in Gaza during counterattacks seeking to stop the firing of missiles at Israelis towns.
For those who ignorantly think there is no distinction between self-defense and cold-blooded murder, the assault on the Mercaz Harav yeshiva in Jerusalem is sad, but somehow understandable, given the "rage" of Palestinians over their plight. They will argue that the cheers heard in Gaza for the murders in Jerusalem ought not to influence our opinion of the conflict.
Indeed, many in the media were all too eager to cast aspersions on the victims in the yeshiva massacre because the institution is itself a stronghold of Orthodox religious Zionism and the settler movement. Even for many Jews, labeling the dead as "settlers" serves to delegitimize them or even to mark them as understandable targets of an angry Palestinian hitman.
But American Jews who know little about the world of religious Zionism need to understand that this yeshiva was founded by Rabbi Avraham Kook, who sought to unite all Jews behind the banner of both Torah and the national revival of the Jewish people.
A chief rabbi in an era where that title meant more an association with political patronage, Rabbi Kook sought to bridge the gap between believers and non-believers. He taught religious Jews to understand that the efforts of the non-observant to build a new nation were to be honored and valued. His wisdom and willingness to see the big picture of the struggle for survival taught secular Jews a newfound respect for faith. That is a particularly important example for an often divided people.
In the eyes of the killers, all Jews really do look alike. And that is precisely why the current situation demands that Jews around the world respond to the latest events in Israel with action.
We have looked on from afar as the residents of Sederot and now Ashkelon have suffered the terror of ceaseless Kassam and Katyusha missile attacks, and now, as the residents of Israel's capital cope with the slaughter of innocent scholars. Many of us merely shook our heads with sadness and bought into the lies about moral equivalence.
Israel's enemies believe that they can wear the Jewish state down, and ultimately isolate it from its friends and allies through unending terror. In particular, they hope that Americans will grow tired of watching the violence on television and think that there is no difference between the two sides. But we know better.
While we pray that efforts to stop the shooting succeed, there is no denying the fact that the applauding by Palestinians for both the missile attacks and the yeshiva massacre are indicative of the moral bankruptcy of their cause.
That is why it is essential that Americans continue to speak up to the media and to our politicians, and tell them that we aren't fooled by the lies, and that Israel's cause is just and that of those who still wish to destroy it is not.
Next week, we'll have an opportunity to demonstrate our solidarity with the people of Israel when the community gathers on March 19 for a "Stand With Israel" rally at noon in Philadelphia's Love Park. Everyone who can possibly come should make an effort to be there and show the world that we don't intend to watch in silence as Jews are slaughtered to the cheers of their enemies.