Last week, just before Tisha B’Av, 19-year-old Dvir Sorek returned by bus from Jerusalem to Machanaim Yeshiva, located between Efrat and Kibbutz Migdal Oz in Gush Etzion. He got off the bus and started walking along a dark road leading to the gate of Migdal Oz and the small hesder yeshiva where he studied.
Unbeknownst to him, several Arabs were waiting to ambush the first vulnerable Jew to walk by. When Dvir, who was an excellent student about to begin military service, didn’t show up for his evening chavruta, a search for him began. In the middle of the night, soldiers discovered his body by the side of the road.
In the aftermath of the tragedy, The Jewish Press spoke to Dvir’s uncle, Yehoshua Herling, whose own father, Rabbi Benjamin Herling, was shot to death in 2002 by Arabs while hiking with a group of 40 Jews in the hills of the Shomron.
The Jewish Press: Not everyone in America understands the realities of traveling in Judea and Samaria. Isn’t it a dangerous area for a young student to walk alone?
Herling: Not really. The road is directly across the street from Efrat, a very large town with a guard booth at the entrance. Students who learn in the area and residents of the settlements there walk along the same road throughout the day. You can’t put a security check post on every road in Judea and Samaria. There would be no end to it.
Shouldn’t schools be responsible for the safety of their students? When a student gets off a bus, a van could be waiting to take him the rest of the way to school.
I am not a security expert. I don’t blame anyone but the Arabs terrorists who believe that by killing Jews they can persuade us to abandon the country, G-d forbid.
Your father was also murdered by Arabs while hiking near Shechem. What went through your mind when you heard your nephew had been killed?
Dvir was a beautiful boy. A very idealistic youth. Very happy to be learning Torah and to be starting his army service. His grandfather was a serious Torah scholar, a great lover of the Jewish people and the Land of Israel. A survivor of the Holocaust, he was always grateful to Hashem for having returned us to our homeland and given us a powerful Jewish state.
My father and my sister’s son were both fighters for Jewish independence and freedom. The loss can never be replaced, but we don’t let it break our spirits. We understand that a homeland is won only through determination and struggle, sometimes at a very dear cost.
The answer to the murder of my father and the murder of Dvir is not to withdraw into Jewish ghettos surrounded by walls, or to travel in convoys of armored vehicles, but to persevere with the absolute conviction that Israel is our eternal Promised Land for which we have to fight.
Should yeshivot perhaps not be located in areas surrounded by Arabs?
Terrorists kill Jews in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. Any place in the country where pioneer Zionists built a kibbutz or moshav was initially dangerous and surrounded by Arabs. With the influx of more Jews in the area, security was enhanced. That’s how the country was built – with idealism, hard work, and Jewish blood.
Many of our readers send their children to study in Israel. Should they worry about their safety?
No. Tragic killings occur, but they are the exception, not the norm. I don’t think Jews in the Diaspora are any less threatened than we are. Look at all of the people who were gunned down by madmen in America recently. At least in Israel, we have a Jewish army to fight against our enemies.
We have to keep things in proportion. In Auschwitz, 900 Jews were murdered every day. We have certainly progressed a long way since then, and we have to be very grateful for that.
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After every terrorist killing, voices in Israel demand a capital punishment law to deter further acts of terror. The Jewish Press asked Meir Indor, director of the Almagor Terror Victims Association, why such a law hasn’t been passed by the Knesset. He replied:
“People don’t realize that Israel already has a capital punishment law. We have been lobbying for its enforcement for years. It was established by the British during their Mandate in Israel and kept on the books after the creation of the state. Eichmann was sent to the gallows by the power of that law.
“The problem is that liberal forces in the media, academia, and government are afraid of such a strong Jewish measure. Even the Israel Security Services and the army have opposed the idea, claiming that it will increase kidnappings and cause world opinion to turn even further against us on supposedly moral grounds.
“Of course, the moral opposition is empty, as it says in the Torah, ‘You shall not corrupt the land in which you are, for blood corrupts the land, and the land cannot be cleansed of the blood that is shed therein but by the blood of him that shed it’ (Numbers 35:33). In other words, capital punishment for the terrorists who murder innocent victims….
“What is needed is a constant public campaign to combat all of the liberal brainwashing that seeks to continue the falsehood that we can only shake our heads in sorrow whenever a Jew is murdered for being a Jew in his Jewish homeland.”