First of all, I want to express my sincerest condolences to the families of the three Israeli teenagers brutally kidnapped and killed by Palestinian terrorists in the West Bank on June 12 and whose lifeless bodies were found on Sunday near Hebron. Naftali Fraenkel, Gil-Ad Shaer and Eyal Yifrah were killed for being three Jewish boys in a land where the enemies of Israel only aspire to generate terror, where they only dream of destroying the Jewish state by force. In the enemies’ twisted minds, killing Jews is a way to finish, if only a little, with the State of Israel.
Israel knows all too well what suffering is all about. The anti-Jewish pogroms began almost a hundred years ago, well before the State of Israel was established, or the settlements, so hotly debated today, had begun to develop. If Jewish communities in Haifa or Hebron were under the threat of extinction in 1921, or in 1936 and 1939, it was because the Arabs have never accepted what the Bible and history teach us: The Jewish people have roots in Palestine since time immemorial.
Thousands of years before Yasser Arafat invented the term “Palestinian people” in 1967. It is for the same reason that the Arabs would not accept the 1947 partition plan to have two states, one for Arabs and the other for the Jewish people – one of them was for the Jewish people. It is for the same reason that they have suffered so many wars, intifadas and terrorist attacks, immoral delegitimization campaigns against Israel’s right to exist, and repeated Iranian threats to “wipe Israel off the map.”
Unfortunately these three new murders took place in an increasingly problematic context for Israel and many Jewish communities in the world. Israel is an island of freedom and prosperity in an increasingly menacing and turbulent sea. ISIS (Islamic State in Iraq and Syria) black flags are present at Gaza funerals; the Syrian war is destabilizing Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq; Fatah and Hamas have formed a new Palestinian coalition government and there is no firm or coherent world reaction against a Palestinian Authority that has allied with terrorism; and the agreement with Iran that US President Barack Obama is cooking up does not guarantee that Tehran will renounce to its current capability to make a nuclear bomb.
At the same time, successful Palestinian information-manipulation campaigns; the hatred by a Left that does not understand Israel’s religious significance and identity nor its willingness to present a defense when the circumstances so require; and the traditional anti-Semitism of a reactionary Right are fueling actual legal and economic warfare against the interests of Israel in the form of complaints from individuals, as well as boycotts and lobbying so that scholars, artists and companies do not set foot in Israel. Never has any country had to fight its enemies simultaneously on so many fronts.
The kidnapping of the three teenagers has gone practically unnoticed outside Israel. Many will say that there was other more relevant news, such as Iraq’s collapse. However, I am convinced this is just another excuse. To insult, intimidate, attack and even to kill Jews has again become more commonplace today.
It is rarely denounced. Here is an example: Belgian authorities tried to deny that the attack against the Jewish Museum in Brussels was an anti-Semitic terrorist attack.
The silence of the lambs is the product of fear. And in Europe, people are in fear – in a lot of fear – of being seen as pro-Israel and pro-Jewish. For example, an American delegation of Jews was expelled last week from the African States Summit to which they had been previously invited. This happened because the delegates of the Arab League could not stand the sight of American Jews wearing kippot.
Did any of our leaders, including the president of the Spanish government, make the slightest gesture of disgust or disapproval? No. There are too many interests in play, too many fears.
Nonetheless, killing Jews should not go unnoticed or unpunished. And it’s not something that can be left solely in the hands of Israeli authorities. The bodies found in Hebron have also been found in Brussels and France.
Today there is a new swastika, nested in an irrational far Right, fueled by a godless, pacifist and multiculturalist Left, and exploited by Palestinians, Muslim Brotherhood members, Salafis and jihadists in Europe and everywhere – that includes many American universities.
That is why the brutal and unjustifiable murder of three boys, whose mistake was to hitchhike back home, should not leave us indifferent. The Jewish people have every right to live in peace everywhere and Israel has the right to self-defense to achieve peace.
Seventy years ago, the world allowed the Nazi horror of the Holocaust. It is our moral obligation to never allow it to happen once again. Moreover, our own interests should lead us to defend Israel against barbarity.
May the boys rest in peace and let’s keep them in our hearts, our souls, and minds.
The writer is the director of the Friends of Israel Initiative.