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March 7, 2008: Pain

March 7, 2008

The horror and the implications go deep . The list of those killed at Yeshivat Mercaz Harav has been released. Only one was over 20. Two were 15, two 16, two 18, and one 19 years old.

Turns out that the 19 year old was from Kohav Hashachar, and he was the son of the mohel (ritual circumciser) who did the brit milah of all five of my grandsons. A kind, gentle man, now in mourning.

The funeral for some of them was held at the Yeshiva this morning, and I watched on TV, tears streaming down my face. The head of the yeshiva, Rabbi Yaakov Shapira, spoke, and he was crying so hard he had difficulty getting the words out. He drew a line from the Hevron massacres of 1929 to this terror.


The pain goes deeper than the horrendous deaths of these young people, who, immersed in study, have now lost their lives and their futures. It is also the issue of the institution that was struck. This was no accident, my friends. The terrorist was no deranged person working alone and out of anger. He was sent and this was planned with knife-sharp precision.

This is what Calev Ben David wrote this morning:

"Rarely have terrorists chosen their target with so much malicious care as in Thursday night’s attack on Jerusalem’s Mercaz Harav Yeshiva.

"In striking the flagship institution of the religious Zionist movement , a Jerusalem landmark whose history is linked with the founding and fulfillment of the Jewish national home in the Land of Israel, the gunman aimed his weapon at the heart of the Jewish enterprise."

And as writer Judy Balint pointed out, the yeshiva trains the best of educators, sends the best of soldiers to the IDF, and does much much more.

The institution was founded by, and is named for, Rav Avraham Isaac Kook, first Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi in Palestine (i.e., before the founding of modern Israel); he was an important leader and philosopher of the religious Zionist movement.


The news now is that the terrorist was Alaa Abu Dhein, 20. Not only a resident of eastern Jerusalem, according to neighborhood residents he also worked for the Yeshiva as a driver. Driving whom, when, is not clear, but the police have located his car. He clearly had familiarity with the Yeshiva.

The family has set up a traditional mourning tent and has hung Hamas flags.


I alluded yesterday to the possibility that the group claiming responsibility might have Hezbollah connections. It seems that Al-Manar, a Hezbollah TV station, broadcast the information that "Galilee Freedom Battalions – the Martyrs of Imad Mughniyeh and Gaza" claimed responsibility for the Jerusalem operation. This would be an Israeli Arab group.

But I’m looking at the possibility of other connections as well. The rioting that has occurred in eastern Jerusalem in the last days was clearly instigated, and the question is what role the Fatah may have played in this instigation, which is intrinsically linked to last night’s terror. If and when I have answers, you will know them.


In the meantime, I’m concerned that the gov’t has been all too quiet. I haven’t heard a strong, direct response from Olmert. A statement from his office linked the terror attack to what is done from Gaza. I want to hear that our response to Gaza is going to be strong, so that our enemies get the message. I don’t want to know about "quieting" things or ceasefires.

And I definitely don’t want to hear that this proves we must move forward with negotiations, for it proves nothing of the sort.

At the funeral I spotted MKs Orlev, Rivlin and Eitam. I’m sure I missed others. But many were missing.

A decision was made, and this is positive, to broadcast pictures of the carnage world wide. Time our story was told.


From around the world in many quarters there were expressions of horror and condolence.

There was no condemnation of the act from the Security Council, however, because Libya insisted on linking it to what Israel has done in Gaza, and the US blocked it.

From Mahmoud Abbas, this: "The president condemns all attacks that target civilians, whether they are Palestinian or Israeli."


We are, please know, in the month of Adar, which is the month when Purim is celebrated, and we are bidden to be happy. We defeated Haman and we will defeat our enemies now as well.

Shabbat Shalom




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