Coping with Terrorism through Faith

The goal of terrorism is to sow panic and cause the public to give up on its assets and interests * The difference between Leftists who respond to terrorism by capitulating, and Rightists who mobilize to defeat it * Today, the majority of Israeli’s have sobered from the delusions of peace; consequently, terrorism will not achieve its goal * Fear of death leads to helplessness which only increases the danger * The religious public fails to convince despite its accurate claims because they are perceived as operating out of irrational considerations * In addition to presenting the overall vision of the Torah a rational, gradual, and realistic means of achieving it must be proposed

The War on Arab Terror

Many people are extremely worried about the Arab terror raging in the streets. This is the goal of terrorism – attacking a few people and sowing panic among the public at large, causing them to surrender their assets and interests in hopes of gaining peace and quiet. Even in recent weeks in which terror has raised its evil head, more people were killed in traffic accidents, many of which could have been avoided. Despite this, the fear of terror is far greater than that of road accidents, because the terrible evilness of acts of murder ensnares the mind and arouses fear and horror.

The Effect of Terrorism on the Left and Right

The goal of terrorism is to weaken our hold on the country, in practice however, its influence branches in different directions, according to the state of mind and moral fiber of those attacked.

There are some people who weren’t interested in living in Israel in the first place, and fled here only because of the Holocaust and other troubles in the Diaspora. For them, terror petrifies and paralyzes. They would be willing to accept any withdrawal or humiliation, as long as the fear of terrorism is withdrawn from them. Some go a step further – their hearts are drawn in a sick way to the figure of the killer, striving to understand and justify the motives for his wickedness, hoping that perhaps in this way they will find a solution to the situation. For the sake of this they are forced to modify their moral outlooks, as one can hear from various Leftists.

And then there are people with a healthy moral consciousness for whom justice is important, and are not willing or able to surrender to terrorism. Just the opposite – it spawns within them an opposite reaction, and a strong will to fight back.

The Division between Right and Left

In order to analyze things properly, it is important to first define the basic essentials. In practice, the dividing line between those for whom terrorism overcomes and impels to concessions on land and rights, and those who terrorism triggers a desire to fight back – is based on one’s attitude towards the Land of Israel.

Those Tending to the Left

Jews who tend to the Left never really wanted to immigrate to Israel in the first place, and only when the troubles of the Diaspora were about to drown them, did they decide to go. Some chose to immigrate to Israel and not move abroad to America or other foreign countries, and some had no choice but to immigrate to Israel because no other country agreed to accept them. Consequently, the Holocaust for them is the supreme justification for the existence of the State of Israel. Their descendants live in Israel because they got used to the country, and their friends and family also live here. Most of them also have a certain connection to the Bible, the People and the Land, but they wouldn’t shed a tear if fate somehow transported them to the West. For them, annual visits to Israel would suffice.

These are the people willing fall for any “peace” proposal. Even for the slightest chance of quiet they are willing to give up parts of the homeland. In exchange for a temporary lull in the international arena, they are willing to give up the basic fundamentals of sovereignty and Jewish identity.

Those Tending to the Right

Those tending to the right view immigration to Israel and the blossoming of its wilderness as a process of redemption for the People and Land of Israel, based on the mitzvoth of the Torah and Prophetic visions, or at very least, based on a national and historic mandate. True, most of them unfortunately immigrated to Israel only after the troubles in the Diaspora increased dramatically. But after being forced to flee, they saw in the settling of the Land a phase of redemption. The supreme justification of Israel’s existence for them are the mitzvoth of the Torah, or at very least, a national historic right.

These people are willing to sacrifice and pay the price in order to secure Israeli sovereignty in Judea and Samaria. Only in a situation of absolute coercion would they be prepared to retreat; short of such circumstances, they would prefer suffering international condemnation and terrorism, and not retreat. Arab terror spurs them to fight back, and expand Jewish settlement.

Those in the Middle

The majority of the public is somewhere in the middle; they understand both the Right and the Left. Ideally, they would prefer the approach of the Right, but for more security, would be ready to tilt to the Left. When successfully deceived that withdrawals will bring peace, they are enticed to support the retreat. When failed to be deceived, they will oppose withdrawals and violation of sovereignty.

A Cautious Assessment: Terrorism Will Fail

At present, it appears that most of Israeli public leans to the Right – unfortunately, not thanks to a deepening of Jewish identity, but mainly because reality refused to conform to the delusions of peace. Consequently, chances are the current wave of terror will not achieve its goal – on the contrary, it will strengthen Jewish identity and harm the Arabs rising up against us.

The Security Question and Its Roots

It’s interesting that when the two side’s debate, they often gear themselves with security, economic, social and moral arguments, without being aware of the roots of their arguments. In practice, those who are more firmly connected to the Torah, People, and Land of Israel find realistic arguments for settling the Land, while those who are distant find realistic claims for withdrawal.

The Path to Security

From time immemorial, those who worried only about not dying were harmed more than those who tried to live. For example, Jews in Europe were extremely worried for their lives. They felt the growing anti-Semitism, and tried to do anything to survive. However, since their main concern was how not to die, they were afraid to make aliyah to Israel, because a person whose main wish is not to die, is afraid to face reality and have the courage to do what it takes to increase his chances of survival. Therefore, when the Jews in Europe heard about Arab terrorism taking place in Israel, they were afraid and remained in the Diaspora, and ultimately were harmed sevenfold.

In contrast, a person who wants to live, and has meaning to his life, dares to act even under risk and self-sacrifice, to fulfill his life’s purpose. And if his actions are carried out within the framework of rational considerations, he merits surviving longer.

The same is true concerning illnesses: someone who is always worried about getting sick is usually more ill. In contrast, a person whose life is full of content is usually healthier.

When the primary hope of the Left is that the State of Israel not be harmed, it brings upon the country far more security, economic and social troubles than the Right, who are not willing to give up on our national identity.

The Problem of the Faith-based Right

Recent years have proven that the Right was correct. Withdrawals did not increase security, rather, the exact opposite. The Arab world did not mollify their views towards us, but instead became more radical. The Western world also stepped-up its delusional demands of us, despite all the concessions we already made.

Representatives of the faith-based Right foresaw all of this. So why is it that the public at large does not accept the positions of the faith-based Right? Why is the public still willing to listen to the nonsense of all the commentators and experts from academia and graduates of the intelligence community, chattering incessantly in the media? After all, it has been proven time and again how they embroiled governments in complicated and dangerous concessions, and have never been able to predict the future.

It appears the reason is because often, the faith-based Right proposes implausible suggestions based on wishful thinking and beliefs, rather than on reality. The public fears that these irrational positions are liable to endanger their existence. For all one knows, faith-based leaders might suddenly decide to destroy the mosques on the Temple Mount and provoke a world war. Or maybe they’ll apply sovereignty over territories in Judea and Samaria while giving full citizenship to the Arabs living there. Or alternatively, maybe they will emerge with a program of instant deportation of the majority of Arabs, while bringing the entire world against the State of Israel.

In contrast, the various commentators indeed are always wrong, because they fail to understand the meaning of national identity and faith, and therefore do not understand the motives of the enemy, and the source of strength of the People of Israel. However, the information they provide is factual and solid, and their arguments are drawn from the realistic domain, without relying on miracles. Consequently, the public is willing to listen to them, even though they do not trust their suggestions.

In such a situation, the public prefers the leadership of Prime Minister Netanyahu. Although he deals mainly with survival, and only occasionally merits us with little flickers of faith, national achievements, and settling the land, nevertheless, his considerations are rational and based on solid reality, lacking the grave errors of the failed commentators.

A Proposal for a Gradual, Faith-Based Approach

We can fix this situation when we present a comprehensive and idealistic vision as written in the Torah and the Prophets, while at the same time offer a gradual way to achieve it, taking into maximal account reality, including Israeli public opinion and that of the international community, and the powers they represent.

For example, concerning the Temple Mount I suggest that from now on, every preacher who incites and speaks out against Israel or Jews, and any Muslim who disturbs those ascending the Temple Mount by screaming or other actions will not be allowed to go up the Temple Mount. This is a proportionate measure, whose reasoning can be understood by any normal person in the world.

Similarly, in regards to the continuation of settlement in Judea and Samaria: It is possible to expand the settlements on State-owned land without depriving any Arab who has property rights. In this way, friction will be reduced in all respects. Settlement will be regulated by law without any complaints of discrimination and dispossession, and all the positive energy of the settlers will be directed to perfectly legal areas of the State of Israel, without an attempt to grab land that is not regulated or privately owned.

It is also possible to gradually apply Israeli sovereignty over Jewish settlements and empty areas in Judea and Samaria, while proposing regional autonomy to the local Arab leadership, and likewise with respect to the demand for loyalty from Israeli Arab citizens.

This gradual process does not demand concession of any rights of the Jewish people, but only exercises our rights incrementally, in the sense of: “I will drive them out from before you gradually, until you have grown in number and can take possession of the land” (Exodus 23:30).

Learning Logic from Within the Torah

To be able to put through such leadership and approach, Torah must be studied in a more complete and truthful way, so that its’ practical logic will shine forth as the sun in the afternoon. Today, many people fulfill the mitzvoth for mystical reasons, while at the same time declaring that practical considerations indeed indicate the opposite, but nevertheless, faith trumps logic and nature. Many even take pride in this, because in their view, the absolute believer must ignore practical considerations. But they are gravely mistaken, uprooting the Torah and the meaning of its study; for indeed, the roots of Torah and Jewish faith are in the Heavens, but the entire revelation of the Torah is logical and practical, as is the way of halakha (Jewish law).

This article appears in the ‘Besheva’ newspaper, and was translated from Hebrew. Other interesting and informative articles by Rabbi Melamed and his highly acclaimed series of Jewish law and thought “Peninei Halakha” can be found at:

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