Since I became an observant, religious Jew, I’ve surprised my family in a number of ways: keeping kosher and Shabbat, making aliyah, and most recently, advocating the carrying of firearms. I haven’t spiraled into being a survivalist, or any other kind of nutcase. I’m merely being practical.
The fact is that one of the few things that stands between living in a world with murderous, fanatical, Jew-hating Arabs, and dying at their hands, is a gun. The only thing that stopped the massacre at the Mercaz HaRav almost three years ago was a private citizen with a gun who took down the Arab killer. What stopped the three Arabs who carried out separate attacks in their bulldozers in Jerusalem were private citizens carrying firearms. What stopped an Arab terrorist from blowing himself up in my local supermarket here in Efrat eight years ago was a pistol-packing local. And the one thing that might have saved the four Jews from Beit Haggai last August from being killed at point-blank range in their car was a gun.
In this, as in other things, Israeli government policy talks out of both sides of its mouth. One the one hand, it strongly recommend that Jews living in Yehuda and Shomron get gun licenses and “carry.” On the other hand, it is a very serious matter when a Jew discharges a weapon, even in self defense—so serious, in fact, that the only way to avoid arrest, trial, and mountains of paperwork and legal expenses is to allow your Arab attackers to kill you. Then you’re a hero.
The following is an abbreviated version of an email sent to the Efrat chat list by my friend, Nadia Matar, co-founder of Women In Green and tireless advocate for Jewish rights to the land of Yehuda:
Three years ago, the soldiers David Rubin HY”D and Achikam Amichai HY”D were murdered by Arabs while hiking in Nachal Telem in the Har Hebron region. Their friends swore to honor their memories by continuing to hike everywhere in the Land of Israel.
For three years now, there have been weekly ‘David and Achikam hikes’ throughout Judea and Samaria, among springs and caves, streams and breathtaking views.
The hikes are organized by responsible and cautious guides who have led thousands of hikers from all parts of the country: Ashdod, Rishon Letzion, Bat Yam, Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Netanya, and more.
Last Friday, the 23rd of Shvat 5771 (January 28, 2011), the group hiked to Biblical Tel Gedor in Gush Etzion. On the way back, Arabs from a nearby village saw them and began shooting guns and throwing stones. The size of the group—in the dozens—and its make-up, which included people in their ’70s—made a quick evacuation difficult, and while descending the Tel, defensive measures were required.
When army and police forces arrived, they arrested the hikers who were carrying weapons. Those hikers were imprisoned and charged with homicide before it was even established that any Arab had been killed, before a dead body was even produced, and before even one Arab was interrogated.
On Wednesday, the 28th of Shvat, February 2nd, there will be a court hearing in Jerusalem’s Russian Compound. We are asking the public to be there at 9:30 a.m. to demand that the Jewish State allow Jews the right to defend themselves and to demand that those detained be freed immediately.
Why is it that when Jews are murdered, our government officials decry the terrorists, but that when Jews save themselves from being murdered, the victims are treated as murderers? When David and Achikam were murdered, then Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said “[they] fought bravely”. Why is it that now the victims of last week’s hike are being treated as killers?
Do Jews in present-day Israel have the right to remain alive by defending themselves against murderous attackers without being charged with homicide?
The follow-up (printed here) is that of the 20 hikers detained for questioning, all were released. Two additional settlers are undergoing continued questioning as part of the investigation. The response of Peace Now is to call for police to carry out a blanket confiscation of settlers’ weapons. Clearly, this left-wing group believes in the right of Arabs to attack with any means at their disposal, but not in the right of their fellow Jews to defend themselves. And this is from a pro-peace organization?
My father occasionally marvels at what he calls my “move to the right.” I don’t see it that way, since I think every rational person should believe in a person’s right to hike the countryside without fear of attack, bodily harm, or death. When I was actively teaching in the self-defense world, my colleagues were, to a one, liberal thinkers, feminists, registered Democrats (the Americans, anyway), vegetarians, even Buddhists. We were all on the same page regarding a person’s right to self defense.
To this day, I still believe in the power of a woman’s body to defend herself against an assailant intent on hurting her. But a woman defending herself against sexual assault is not the same as a Jew defending herself against an Arab who wants her dead. If believing in one’s right to defend oneself is limited to unarmed self-defense (and martyrdom), then I’m no longer in that camp. That kind of thinking is madness, and leads to sanctioning senseless murder. When the late Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin called innocents murdered on buses in Arab-launched terror attacks “victims of peace” (implying that a measure of Jewish blood spilled as a result of the Oslo Accords was a small price to pay for “peace”—which never came), but Baruch Goldstein was labeled a monster for mowing down Arabs near the Cave of the Patriarchs, that was madness. When Yitzhak Imas (the driver of the car of Beit Haggai residents) was labeled a security risk for praying on the Temple Mount and subsequently lost his gun license, that was madness. And when a Jewish group that claims to desire peace in the Middle East joins the cries of anti-Semites everywhere to deny Jews the right to defend themselves, that too is madness. If there are some enemies who can only be stopped with a bullet, and the only people who can recognize that are right-wingers, then I guess that’s what I am.
One man’s “right-wing” is, in my opinion, another man’s “sane.”