Noach: Cycle of Violence

Manipulative Media

Every time terror groups strike in Israel, we hear the same dribble from shameless world leaders about cycles of violence. They want us to believe that a Jew who strikes back at a terrorist is equivalent to a terrorist striking an innocent Jew. Punishing the offender is the predicate of every police force and judicial system in the world, but in Israel offenders apparently have rights and defenders do not.

There is indeed a cycle of violence, but of a very different kind. Terror groups strike again and again until someone in Israel strikes back. The world keeps quiet about the barrage of terror attacks against Jews, but speaks out when the Jew strikes back. The headlines suddenly shout with immoral outrage and the thinly veiled anti-Semitism at the United Nations rears its ugly head.

Just the other day we were treated to an especially despicable example in Jerusalem. Mohammad Halabi, a nineteen-year-old terrorist, attacked and murdered Rabbi Nechemiah Lavi and Aharon Benitah, seriously wounded Benitah’s wife and caused injuries to their toddler child. He then calmly walked away while panicked bystanders screamed terrorist. A solder pulled up and shot the terrorist dead.

The Palestinian outrage was immediate triggering demonstrations around the world. The media gave their spokespeople a platform. They unabashedly pointed to a youtube video of the terrorist being shot while bystanders screamed and explained that this “innocent” man was walking along the street when a crowd decided to call him a terrorist and pressure the soldier to shoot him.

The terrorist had just killed and maimed. He had bragged on Facebook that he had intended to commit terror and here the Jew was portrayed as a villain. Should the terrorist have been allowed to roam at will and kill more Jews? What would the morally outraged objectors have done in their own hometowns?

Sanctity of Life

Taking the life of the murderer is not only necessary when others are in harm’s way as was the case in this instance, it is the only just response to murder. Some argue that the murderer is also human and killing him is as immoral as the murder of his victim. But G-d disagrees.

Whoever sheds the blood of man through man shall his blood be shed, for in the image of God He made man.”[1]

Life is indeed sacred. So sacred that snuffing it out is a sin that can’t go unpunished. The image of G-d in the man that was killed was snuffed out. This is not ours to forgive. It is for G-d to forgive and G-d clearly does not forgive. “You shall not accept ransom for the life of a murderer, who is guilty of death, for he shall be put to death.” The courts are thus instructed not to accept a ransom from the murderer even if he is willing to pay all the money in the world. He cannot be pardoned even if the victim’s family agrees to pardon him because the victim’s soul belongs not to the family, but to G-d.” [2]

Suicidal Acts of Homicide

The suicide bomber is the most horrendous tool in the arsenal of terror because it compounds the murder with sympathy for the murderer. Not only are the victims killed, they are jeered. The thinking goes that if the killer took his life, the people he killed must have made it unbearable. This despite the fact that that unbearable living doesn’t lead to suicide. Brain washing and mental illness does.

But [for] your blood, of your souls, I will demand [an account]; from the hand of every beast I will demand it, and from the hand of man, from the hand of each man, his brother, I will demand the soul of man.[3]

Our sages understood this verse as speaking of three equivalent forms of murder. G-d demands an accounting from those who take their own lives by spilling their blood or by other means such as strangulation. He also demands an account from both beast and human that take the life of man.[4]

Taking our own life is equivalent to taking another’s. We don’t belong to ourselves. Even our bodies do not belong to us. This is reflected in the following law “it is forbidden to strike a man even if he permits you to strike him because man has no authority over his own body.” [5]

When a terrorist chooses to take his or her own life along with other innocents they are guilty of compounded murder. Not only the murder of their victims, but also their own. Yet, the media would turn it around and use the suicide to condone the murder. The suicide is its own act of murder. If the suicide itself cannot be condoned, it certainly cannot condone the murder.

So severe is the act of murder that even beasts are punished for killing man though they have no freewill. Even sticks and whips used to strike man are punished for causing pain to those created in G-d’s image. How much more so a murderer, who murders himself alongside others.[6]

Cycle of Violence

We conclude where we started, with the Cycle of Violence. The only way you can place an act of terror on equal footing with responsive measures is if you perceive the victim as guilty. If the violence begins with the terrorist, sane people would conclude that the respondent has the high moral ground. But if the violence begins with the victim, the terrorist is merely a responder and responding to the responder creates a cycle of violence.

Of what is the victim guilty? To our enemies, our very presence in Israel is a crime. They want our land for themselves and they justify all acts of violence in that regard. When you hear people talking about a cycle of violence, help them understand that they are effectively denying our right to our land. Most people accept the facts they are given at face value and don’t take the time to analyze them carefully. Help them understand what they are really saying and maybe, just maybe, we can change their minds.

If it turns out that they do indeed deny our right to our land, we have no further need to converse with them. Nothing we say or do, short of abandoning our land, will pacify them. And that we shall never do.

[1] Genesis 9:6.See commentary of Seforno.

[2] Numbers 35:31. Maimonides Rotzeach Ushmiras Nefesh 1: 4. Such justice is administered in court, not on the streets, but in this case, the terrorist continued to pose a threat necessitating action on the street. This law refers to a Jewish court, but under the Noahide code all nations must establish judicial systems that reflect these laws.

[3] Genesis 9: 5. The word “brother” excludes circumstances of war when these laws are suspended. See Haamek Davar ad loc.

[4] See Maimonies ibid. 2: 3. The only difference is that suicides are punished in celestial courts.

[5] Shulchan Aruch Harav, HIlchos Nizkei Guf V’nefesh, Halacha 4. This also touches on the argument that a woman has a right over her own body to decide on matters of abortion. Firstly, the fetus isn’t hers and secondly her body isn’t hers. Both belong to G-d.

[6] Haamaek Davar ad loc. based on Koheles Rabbah 8:9.