Like everyone in our community and all right-minded people in the world, I am horrified by the heinous terrorist attacks that occurred in Israel beginning last weekend. The deliberate, premeditated slaughter of hundreds of civilians, on one of the holy days of the Jewish year, by a genocidal terrorist group is beyond description in words.
We know that in wars fought in civilian areas, civilians are, unfortunately, killed. But to specifically plan for the wholesale, deliberate murder of families in their homes, concert-goers and others, and the kidnapping of old people, children and women to use as bargaining chips or psychological warfare props boggles the civilized mind — and thrills only the diseased one.
This attack was a terrible blow to Israel and Jews worldwide. It is reminiscent to me of the Yom Kippur War. I was too young to understand what was happening when that war began in October 1973, but I remember the sense of fear that hung over the adults around me, and the nervous prayers led by my kindergarten teachers. That same feeling of desperately needing but not being able to access information, because of the holiday, afflicted me last weekend.
Everyone was adding bits of information they had picked up from newspapers or messages conveyed by neighbors, and the news just kept getting worse. Our enemies had wounded us, and more pain was likely to come. But unlike the war 50 years ago, I do not truly fear for Israel’s survival. She is strong, and if our enemies were looking to capitalize on the disunity that has racked Israel for many months, they may have scored a blow, but they have badly miscalculated, because when the threat comes from without, the core within hardens.
This past Shabbat, Shemini Atzeret, we read Kohelet. And Kohelet instructs us that there is a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to wail and a time to dance. But what happens when those things need to be done at the same time?
Howard Bressler, an attorney who lives in West Hempstead, is the author of “Wrong Conclusion, No Resolution: United Nations Security Council Resolution 2334’s Erroneous Conclusions on the Legality of Israeli Settlements in Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem.”