Photo Credit:
Hallel Ariel And Rabbi Mickey Mark (HY"D) killed by terrorist attacks

“If you are not prepared to use force to defend civilization, then be prepared to accept barbarism.” Thus remarked Thomas Sowell, a famed American economist and philosopher. The barbarism is before us. Our precious little ones are the tragic victims.

Hallel Yaffa Ariel was merely thirteen years old. She was an aspiring performer. She had a whole life ahead of her when she was brutally murdered in her bed. The murderer, an Arab teen from a nearby village, climbed through her window, locked the door and repeatedly stabbed young Ariel in the head and back. She was critically wounded in the upper torso and rushed to the hospital where she died of her injuries. “She was stabbed many, many times,” said one doctor at Jerusalem’s Shaare Zedek hospital, where she was treated. Images of a bloodstained child’s bedroom were abound and yet another barbaric act stunned the souls of a frustrated, hurting people.


The response?

The world yawned yet again as we received “deepest sympathies” from a slew of countries, while the liberal media was relatively silent. The Arab response was typical. The killer was hailed as a hero by numerous Palestinian factions as the Arab public celebrated his “achievement.” There were no condemnations from either Arab Knesset members or Palestinian officials. In fact, Palestinian news outlets glorified the murderer with the official news agency referring to the killer as a “martyr.” The killer’s mother praised him effusively on air: “My son is a hero. He made me proud… All of them will follow this path, all the youth of Palestine.” The killer’s sister also publicly praised the murder while calling for others to follow in his footsteps and kill “the accursed Jews.”

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas himself refused to condemn the attack. This came as no surprise given the role his own organization plays in incitement, with Abbas’ close aide Sultan Abu al-Einein urging Arabs to “slit the throats” of any Israelis they encounter. Abbas’ Fatah faction was among the first groups to celebrate the brutal murder while posting a picture of the killer together with a celebratory post lauding the “martyr who carried out the operation in which a settler was killed.”

As for the Jewish response, there was nothing new under the sun. After the Prime Minister pleaded for the Palestinian Authority and the entire world to condemn the attack, he then met with the Defense Minister and ordered the military to temporarily close off the killer’s village and then proceeded to rescind work permits belonging to the extended family. Authorities also began procedures aimed at demolishing the killer’s home (a move condemned by Human Rights Watch).

There were many of the familiar calls from Jewish citizens and Knesset members alike. Prayers were heaped upon the grieving family. We were told to “remember” Hallel. Many called for an increase in Jewish settlement construction. “Every terror attack must be met with a new home, street or neighborhood,” wrote one columnist. “Only the building of Jewish homes will provide the strategic and political answer to terrorism,” wrote another. There were demands that funds for the PA and UNRWA be conditioned on the removal of school curricula and official media which carry a message of war against Israel. “Following the PA endorsement of Hallel’s murder, no PA website should be left alive,” wrote one commentator. “Sue Facebook.” “Install more reliable fences.” “Provide watch dogs.” Perhaps another structure will be dedicated to the memory of the deceased. These are the responses of a people that forgot how to respond. And while they are well intentioned, these responses are too mild to quell terror.

At a recent funeral for yet another victim of Arab terror, mourners began to shout for “revenge.” They were silenced immediately. “Whoever wants to scream nonsense should leave,” a family member said. “This wasn’t what he wanted. We are focusing on his memory and on doing good. He had Arab friends.” And herein lies the root of how Jewry has lost the ability to comprehend that revenge is far from “nonsense.”

No, not settlements. Building our land is our undeniable right independent of any terror. And not home demolitions or the revoking of work permits. The Arab fears none of these. Our government’s response must be an effective one that will deter future attacks. A response that is both moral and logical. And a response that is most Jewish.

“How great is revenge!” (Berachot 33)

“The righteous man shall rejoice when he sees vengeance.” (Psalms 58)

“Let the saints exult in glory… Let the high praises of G-d be in their mouth, and a two-edged sword in their hand, to execute vengeance upon the nations…” (Psalms 149)

“The righteous do not depart from the world until they take revenge on behalf of Israel.” (Sifri, Matot 157)

While personal revenge is both an ugly trait and prohibited (Lev. 19:18), revenge against a threatening foe of national proportions is both just and required. It is the most obvious of responses to terror. Every attack must be avenged mercilessly, for there is nothing unjust about an action waged in defense or revenge to prevent attacks.

Of course, revenge can be taken on many levels, but at the very least let the terror leadership which both calls for these brutal murders and acts on those calls, along with their thousands upon thousands of active military members, feel the full wrath of Israel’s military might. In the words of the brilliant Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik: “If we wish to courageously defend our continued national and historical existence, we must, from time to time, interpret the verse of an ‘eye for an eye’ literally. So many ‘eyes’ were lost in the course of our bitter exile because we did not repay hurt for hurt.” For the sake of Hallel and so many other brothers and sisters who were brutally killed by a vicious enemy, shall we not revenge?


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Mark Cohen made aliyah nearly 15 years ago from the United States and currently lives and teaches in the heart of Jerusalem.