Thou shalt not murder.
Those words from the Ten Commandments are part of the Torah portion we read on Shabbat on Aug. 1, the first Shabbat after Tisha B’Av. It’s supposed to be a day of consolation after the mourning of Tisha B’Av, the day we lament the Jewish disunity that led to the destruction of the Temples and other disasters.
But it was hard to move past the mourning after what happened in Israel in days before Shabbat.
On Thursday, July 30, Yishai Schlissel stabbed six people at a gay pride parade in Jerusalem, repeating a crime from 10 years earlier for which he recently was released from prison. One of the six victims, a 16-year-old girl, died three days later.
Early Friday, July 31, someone threw Molotov cocktails into two homes in the Arab village of Duma and left Hebrew graffiti nearby. An 18-month-old, Ali Dawabsha, burned to death, and several of his family members were fighting for their lives at press time. The killers are believed to be Jewish settlers.
“The Torah of the Jewish people is the Torah of life, and the value of life is above everything,” said Moshe Gafni, the head of Israel’s ultra-Orthodox United Torah Judaism party, according to The Jerusalem Post. He was addressing the parade stabbings, but his words could just as well apply to the firebombing.
The Torah does not ban the murder of Jews; it bans murder, period. An act of violence that kills a toddler, an innocent child who was not being used as a human shield during war but was merely sleeping in his home, is murder.
Both acts of violence are stains on Israel and on the Jewish people. They already are being used by those who hate us as evidence that Israel should be eliminated. Israel cannot prevent such verbal attacks but can take action to undermine them.
We are heartened by the widespread condemnation in Israel of both attacks, especially by President Reuven Rivlin and his immediate predecessor, Shimon Peres, at two of several rallies held Saturday night, Aug. 1, in response to the attacks.
“We must put out the flames, the incitement, before they destroy us all,” Rivlin said, according to The Times of Israel. “We will not be zealots. We will not be bullies. We will not become an anarchy.”
Peres said Israel must wage “a war of liberation — to liberate the state of Israel from madness and madmen.”
We join with many others in making this point: Terrorists are terrorists. Those who would burn a sleeping Arab family because of extreme nationalism or a twisted vision of Judaism are no better than those who behead Jews and Christians out of a twisted vision of Islam.
The parade stabber is in custody and should expect to spend the next couple of decades in prison. But the stain on Israel will remain until the people who firebombed Duma are also brought to justice. The same Israeli security apparatus that found the killers of the three Jewish teens last summer must find the killers of Ali Dawabsha.
If those who committed this crime think their violence was justified, let them come forward, make their case and face their punishment. If they remain hidden, their cowardice reveals that they know they did wrong, and anyone who can identify them must do so.