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The Beat of Hatred Goes On

March 11, 2016

Goodbye to Taylor Force

How many of us feel angry and helpless as we witness what is happening in Israel. Day after day, we learn of horrific hate-filled events that show its vulnerability and shake us as American Jews.

Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) test-fired two ballistic missiles on June 9th, designed to be able to reach 870 miles, specifically Israel. “The reason we designed our missiles with a range of 2,000 km is to be able to hit our enemy the Zionist regime from a safe distance,” Brigadier General Amir Ali Hajizadeh said. Even more disturbing was that these were the words (in Hebrew) stamped on the missiles: “Israel should be wiped from the pages of history.”

In Israel the night before, there was a stabbing in Petah Tikva in which a young Israeli man was stabbed repeatedly yet managed to remove the knife from his neck and stab and kill his attacker, as well as a shooting in the head of two police officers in Jerusalem. Soon after, 22-year-old Palestinian Bashar Massalha killed an American tourist, US army veteran Taylor Force, and injured 10 other people, five critically, in a stabbing spree at the Jaffa Port and along the Tel Aviv beach promenade. U.S. Vice President Joe Biden’s wife and children were not far away, dining on the beach. The official news station of the Palestinian Authority described the terrorist who went on a stabbing spree in Jaffa Wednesday night as a “martyr” and called his victims “settlers” (according to PA Media Watch), and both Hamas and Fatah praised the terrorist attacks as well.

After hearing silence from President Obama over many months of violence in Israel, it was refreshing to hear Biden quickly speak out, “Let me say in no uncertain terms: The United States of America condemns these acts….It is just not tolerable in the 21st century. They’re targeting innocent civilians, mothers, pregnant women, teenagers, grandfathers, American citizens. There can be no justification for this hateful violence and the United States stands firmly behind Israel when it defends itself as we are defending ourselves at this moment as well.”

It’s easy to recoil in fear when hearing of such random brutality. My wife and I spent hours in Jaffa last August and she is going back there this May, so I will join many other tourists and Israeli citizens in anxiety, but fear doesn’t eclipse the sadness of the loss of life. The latest is US Army veteran, Taylor Force, a graduate from West Point Military who served as a field artillery officer from 2009-2014. A veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan, he was in Israel on a school program.

In an excellent essay written by Taylor’s long-time friend, (“My friend Taylor Force is dead,” David Simpkins, The Times of Israel, March 9, 2016), David wrote, “I couldn’t think of someone who was more of a model of ‘America’s finest’ than him. He was articulate, brilliant, and just so GOOD. I can’t think of a moment where he wasn’t exuding an aura of pure positive energy. He was as honest and heartfelt as they come, but now he’s dead.”

David wrote that his friend died in a “war that he didn’t know he was in the middle of.” Taylor, a believer in the two-state Solution, felt comfortable in the “illusion” that Israeli Jews and Arabs can live together, even though the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research (PSR) conducted a poll in December showing that “two thirds of all Palestinians admitted they supported the knife attacks against Israelis.”

Many of the Palestinians, including Fatah leader Abbas, not only don’t condemn the constant terror attacks but praise murderers as martyrs. And as Simpkins wrote, “Hamas announced that they’re celebrating their martyrs last night. As I write this, there are parties from Gaza to Ramallah continuing all day, and probably tonight. It’s not every day they get a former US Army officer who served in Iraq and Afghanistan. For them, this is a great boon.”

Terror is deliberately random and has no boundaries. Jews, Israelis, and Americans are targeted but anyone can be a victim. Tuesday night, one of the people attacked in Jaffa was an Arab, Mohammed Wari, who condemned the attacks: “Terror is an illness that needs to be stopped. Terror has a clear goal: to kill and destroy the world and the coexistence in which we live.”

Anti-Semitic hatred of Israel is the gasoline that drives terror but Wari is right that terror kills and destroys the world. We Jews like to think positively that saving a soul saves the world but the Talmud also says, “Whoever destroys a soul, it is considered as if he destroyed an entire world.”

Today, in Israel, the beat of hatred goes on and on and the world seems to get a little bit darker each day. In my daily prayers, I stop and realize the importance of these words (translated) from the Amidah:  “May all the enemies of Your people be speedily extirpated; and may You swiftly uproot, break, crush and subdue the reign of wickedness speedily in our days. Blessed are You L-rd, who crushes enemies and subdues the wicked.”

Amen.

 

 

 

 

 

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