In the last month, Israel has reported almost 800 acts of terror. Much speculation arose in the media around the globe as to the possibility of a third Intifada slowly taking place. Yet, as of now, if we compare the current events to those of the First Intifada of 1987-1991 and of the Second Intifada of 2000-2005, we are not seeing an out-of-control uprising of a large number of Palestinians. It is simply too early to tell. There is little doubt that it could pick up more momentum and become a third Intifada, but for right now it appears to be a random series of acts of terror by Palestinians acting as “lone wolves”.
Frankly, the recent attacks on Israeli citizens–as isolated and sporadic as they have been–are still posing a great danger to everyday life in the land. They represent individual jihad more than a third Intifada, but at the end of the day, the same people are targeted, the same people are victimized and the same agenda is promoted. Terror is terror. Many unnecessary fatalities have been reported.
• Unpredictable Terror:
One of the grave dangers posed by this ongoing terrorism in Israel is the fact that each act of terror is very unpredictable and very different from other murderous acts.
Here are just a few:
• October 20: The stoning of a car forced an Israeli citizen to exit his vehicle and led him to be killed by a moving truck.
• October 18: A Palestinian grabbed the rifle off an IDF soldier, killed him and wounded eleven more people.
• October 16: A Palestinian disguised as a journalist stabs an IDF soldier
• October 13: A stabbing and shooting on a bus in Southern Jerusalem led to the killing of 4 people and wounding 15 more.
• October 1: Shooting to death of a young couple under the eyes of their wounded young children.
These acts are all different which makes them nearly impossible to predict or thwart. This unpredictability is possibly the greatest threat to Israel right now. Israel has become a world leader and expert on how to detect explosive devices ahead of their detonations. But how do you detect a knife made out of a school ruler? How do you predict the stoning of a car on the road? How do you avoid a car running into a group of people waiting at a bus stop? It is simple…You don’t.
• Cheap Terror:
Martyrdom has long been part of the Palestinian culture. Young Palestinians are indoctrinated at a very early age against Jewish people. They are told and taught about “killing Jews.” Death is part of the fabric of many Muslim countries in the Middle East, especially when it is connected to Israel. The promise of a “heavenly harem” of 72 virgins along with financial incentives to the families of homicide bombers have been common practice in Palestinian circles.
Not every Palestinian is keen on losing their life to “the cause”, but just about anyone would be willing to randomly hurt Israelis as they have done recently. This demands a very small investment of willing “Palestinian Martyrs” and thus is a cheap method of terror that becomes very attractive to many. We can expect a lot more of these acts in the upcoming weeks.
• Financed Terror:
It was good to hear that the US decided to cut its financial aid to Abbas by $80 million (why they still sent the remaining $290 million defies logic). Financial help to a terrorist group is basically terrorism. Why would we look at any other terror states such as Iran funding Hamas, Hezbollah or Al-Qaeda and see them as terror partners but ignore the United States involvement in terrorism?
Not one dollar of the $290 million that the United States sent Abbas in 2015 was ever justified unless of course we bought Abbas’ lies about Palestinians being the victims of the Israeli occupation. The fact that the US retained $80 million in funding shows that something is wrong, but it is akin to trying to get somebody to stop smoking by pulling a few cigarettes out of their pack and letting them smoke the rest. It simply won’t work.
This current wave of spontaneous terror attacks on Israeli citizens and soldiers is not an intifada per se, at least not an “old school” intifada. Yet it might end up being more damaging than the previous two intifadas. If creativity prevails, we will see more attacks in ways that nobody could predict. This has become a logistical nightmare for Israel. No wonder the mayor of Jerusalem recently announced to its Jewish residents that if they had a valid carry license, they should never leave home without a firearm.
The wolves attacking Israel might not come in packs and might be far from being well organized and structured, but they remain wolves with a ferocious appetite for Jewish lives. It is not about Jerusalem, it is not about the Temple Mount and it is not about the disputed territories. It is simply about the complete eradication of Israel and all Jews.
I still rest in the fact that God continues to be a Zionist and continues to protect Israel from complete destruction as we can read in Psalm 121:1-4:
I will lift up my eyes to the mountains; From where shall my help come? My help comes from the Lord, Who made heaven and earth. He will not allow your foot to slip; He who keeps you will not slumber. Behold, He who keeps Israel Will neither slumber nor sleep.
It doesn’t matter if you are Catholic or not, the Pope is an international figure that cannot be ignored. As a Jew, I do not fall under his authority like a Roman Catholic would, but I understand that he can be a very influential person.
Over the centuries, many popes have come and gone and those who truly loved the Jews were definitely few and far in between. I do not want to give the impression of being anti-Catholic, yet if history is our witness, the Catholic Church has often failed in the area of Judeo-Christian relations. Where the Church as a religious institution has failed, many catholic individuals succeeded, as there are many stories of Catholics loving, helping, hiding and protecting Jews over the centuries and especially during the Holocaust era.
The current Pope was introduced to the world as a “friend of the Jews”. He comes only a short fifty years after Vatican II and the famous Nostra Aetate document also known as the “Declaration on the Relation of the Church to Non-Christian Religions.” This short, very ecumenical document aimed at reconciling Jews, Muslims and Christians among other things. It is at that time, almost 1,700 years after the death of Yeshua (Jesus) that the Catholic Church decided to exonerate the Jews from the charge of deicide (the killing of God). That statement is worth reviewing: “Even though the Jewish authorities and those who followed their lead pressed for the death of Christ (cf. John 19:6), neither all Jews indiscriminately at that time, nor Jews today, can be charged with the crimes committed during his passion. lt is true that the Church is the new people of God, yet the Jews should not be spoken of as rejected or accursed as if this followed from holy Scripture. Consequently, all must take care, lest in catechizing or in preaching the Word of God, they teach anything which is not in accord with the truth of the Gospel message or the spirit of Christ. There is no doubt that a clear attempt was made at exonerating the Jewish people from the death of Yeshua. But outside of a few within the leadership of the time along with a few of their Jewish followers, the corporate guilt for the death of Yeshua was established on a false premise. A simple review of chapter 10 of the Gospel of John would probably have sufficed to see that Yeshua claimed to have given His own life for all. One doesn’t need to adhere to the Christian faith to even see that: “For this reason the Father loves Me, because I lay down My life so that I may take it again. No one has taken it away from Me, but I lay it down on My own initiative. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This commandment I received from My Father”.
Interestingly enough, within the same breath, that statement declares that “lt is true that the Church is the new people of God.” Such a theological construct is also based on a faulty biblical approach seeing Christians has having “replaced” Israel. Replacement Theology has always been very prevalent within the Catholic Church.
Fifty years and a few popes later, the Catholic Church has a new pontiff in Pope Francis, a Jesuit from Argentina. He has the reputation of having nurtured some very positive relationship with the Jewish community of Buenos Aires over the years. He even co-wrote the book On Heaven and Earth with Argentine rabbi Abraham Skorka.
Pope Francis’ relationship with the Jewish community seems sincere and has garnered him a trust from rabbis and Jewish leaders that had not been seen in decades. So it’s all good, right? Well maybe not! Ecumenism by nature is open to a wide array of various belief systems. It seeks a common denominator on which it can build its multicultural, multi-religious and tolerant agenda.
But the Pope should be careful in his ecumenical endeavor to make our world better. While it is our corporate responsibility to do all we can to improve our world–a concept found in Judaism as well, and known as tikkun olam (repairing the world)–it shouldn’t be done at anybody’s expense but to everybody’s benefit. Lately I would posit that the Vatican’s approach to the betterment of the world could end-up being very detrimental to Israel and the Jews.
The world reacted when Pope Francis was quoted saying to Mahmoud Abbas that he was “an angel of peace”. The media outlets were quick to react, the ADL was outraged and the blogosphere buzzed with negative excitement. How could a friend of the Jews call a terrorist an angel of peace? Was the Pope an anti-Semite after all? Many would have easily taken that road, but soon after the statement was published, an explanation followed. The Pope had simply given Abbas a medal that he had also given to other world leaders, telling the head of the Palestinian authority that he hoped that he could become an angel of peace. So calm was restored and the Pope had retained his good reputation with the Jews.
But did he?
I have to admit that calling Abbas an angel of peace would have been a grave mistake. This being said, is it truly better now that we understand that Pope Francis was encouraging a terrorist who clearly wants the total destruction of Israel? I think not!
To remove all doubt, the Vatican also decided a few weeks ago to sign a new treaty to recognize the Palestinian State. The Vatican has been in favor of the recognition of Palestine since 2012, but this upcoming treaty would “formally recognize Palestine”. This will be a blow to Israel and the Jewish people, but it will also hurt the reputation that the Catholic Church has been working hard at changing at least for the last five decades. How can a friend of the Jews mingle with a terrorist and officially recognize a terrorist state bent on eradicating the Jewish people?
Many Jewish people worldwide do not trust the Catholic Church and/or catholic people. While many Catholics were friendly to Jews, like the family of peasants who hid my mother and her cousins during the Holocaust years, they weren’t the norm. Looking at history, words like forced baptisms, forced conversions, Crusades, Inquisition, Pogroms and Holocaust come to mind when a Jewish person is asked about the Catholic Church. While I recognize that even using these words to describe the Catholic Church represents painting with very broad strokes, the connection is real, it is painful and in many cases the wounds are still open.
Pope Francis recent dealings with Abbas and decision to officially recognize Palestine could very well destroy five decades of Judeo-catholic rapprochement and even ad some salt to these wounds. Catholics are part of what is known as Christendom and as such are considered Christians. Next time one of your Jewish friends tells you that ALL Christians are anti-Semitic, even though that isn’t a true statement, the opposite might be a bit more difficult to defend.