Assuming you’re an astute follower of Jewish/Israeli affairs (and as a reader of the Jewish Voice, you almost certainly are), you’ve no doubt heard about the massacre that occurred last week in the Bulgarian resort town of Burgas. While we at the Jewish Voice are covering that story at great length, and from several different angles, you were probably familiar with the basics of the incident before you saw the cover of this week’s issue, which if anything served as an update. So we know, dear reader, what happened. And we have a pretty good idea who is behind it. The question then becomes: What are we, as a community, going to do about it? I have a modest proposal.
If the Israelis are good at one thing (they’re good at many things, but just bear with me here), it’s making terrorists disappear in all manner of clever and original ways. Not that they’re above resorting to Semtex and semi-automatics when the job calls for it (and it usually does). But the the old exploding telephone trick? The Israelis practically invented that. By now you probably have some idea of where we’re going with this.
Operation Wrath of G-d (a.k.a. “Operation Bayonet”) was Israel’s answer to the cold-blooded murder of eleven Israelis at the 1972 Munich Olympics, at the hands of Palestinian terrorists. You may recall this as the basis for the Steven Spielberg movie Munich. (If you haven’t already, we recommend watching the 1986 Canadian made-for-TV movie Sword of Gideon, which is based on the same book as the Spielberg flick. The Canadian version, however, features slightly less of the ham-fisted moral equivocation between terrorists and their pursuers; and also, Michael York!)
Those times when the modern State of Israel has dwelt most securely is when her enemies have been too pants-soilingly terrified to try anything. If this sounds like the exact definition of terrorism, fear not.
Terrorism is the use of force to maim, kill, and intimidate non-combatants. Counter-terrorism is when you do the same thing, but to terrorists. Taking someone hostage and murdering them is not morally equivalent to shooting the hostage-taker, regardless of what Spielberg’s film (or The New York Times, for that matter) seems to imply. Crime and punishment are two different things, whether or not they are carried out with the same implements; context is crucial. Even if one is ethically opposed to the liquidation of terrorists after the fact, few would argue it is somehow unethical to prevent them from striking again. As the Talmud teaches: “If a man comes to kill you, rise early and kill him first.”
In short, I’m suggesting that our brothers and sisters in Israel take another look at Operation Bayonet, and consider revising it for the challenges facing Israel and the Jewish people today. There’s just one more thing…
According to a report by our friends at Arutz Sheva, idealistic Jewish teenagers from here in the States are joining the IDF in record numbers, to combat the threats of Hezbollah and Iran (which, let’s face it, are basically one and the same). Israel has no shortage of enemies, but they also have a growing number of friends. Jews and philo-Semites from around the world are anxious to do their part. So why not expand and better publicize the Mahal foreign enlistment program? (Look it up: Mahal-IDF-Volunteers.org. It’s for people who don’t plan on relocating to Israel permanently, but still wish to serve.) Raise the age limit, and they might find that those of us over the age of 23 still have our uses. Throw in an option to “try out” for counter-terrorism operations (not a guarantee, obviously – it’s not a job for everyone), and I think this whole Tal Law controversy will resolve itself.
In a few years, G-d willing, not only will the Chareidim be free to continue to serve in the auxiliary “spiritual artillery division,” but the IDF will have more recruits than it knows what to do with!