April 18, 2021

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17-Jul-18: Prayers for the dead, prayers for the living


There’s going to be a public discussion this evening in London about the events we mention below. What we write in this blog post will, we hope, reach the people gathered at JW3 and be understood as a constructive contribution to a fraught but important dialogue.

Devastation at Sbarro pizzeria, Jerusalem, August 9, 2001
We’re living in morally confused times.

The handful of young British Jews, a few dozen according to reports, who assembled in Parliament Square in mid-May and solemnly said Kaddish for 62 dead Palestinian Arab Gazans, surely didn’t see themselves as compromising any principles or betraying any values. 

They likely felt they were on moral high ground by being in solidarity with unfortunate, peaceful, unarmed, aggrieved protestors who clashed with Israeli army bullets on Gaza’s side of the Hamas/Israel border.

Our fifteen year old daughter Malkiwas murdered in Jerusalem by a woman foot soldier in the Hamas fighting forces. This happened in the Battle of Sbarro Pizzeria. That young female terrorist saw herself as unarmed too – as a protestorand as aggrieved. This she expressed by planting a bomb – a walking, breathing human bomb – in the pizza place.

After the massacre was done, she said she chose that site because at two in the afternoon it attracted children. She needed dead children. Lots of dead Jewish children.

We now know that just a few hours before the London Kaddish, a Hamas insider owned up to how at least 50 of the 62 deceased “protestors” were in reality Hamas fighters. Another Gazan terror group immediately piped up and claimed several more of the dead as their fighters. Most, maybe all, of the Gazans who passed on in that ‘demo’ were there to fight. And – at almost any price – to bring extreme harm to Israelis.

It’s unfair to blame the Kaddish-sayers for not knowing the truth about them – those rioting, murder-minded Gazan jihadists. The news professionals at the BBC, the Independent, the Guardian evidently didn’t know either. 

But we canask those youngsters, some of whom had had some instruction in the basics of Judaism, if they know what Kaddish means. Beyond the fact that it’s said for the dead, do they recognize these words?

May there be abundant peace from heaven. And life for us and for all Israel. And say, Amen. May the Maker of peace in His celestial heights make peace for us and for all Israel and say, Amen.

Kaddish doesn’t mention the dead at all – not even once. It’s a central Jewish prayer for goodness. An expression of gratitude for Heaven’s power to bring peace and beneficenceinto our lives and into the world.

At the heart of the Kaddish is something that has been at the top of my mind constantly since Malki’s life was stolen from us. It’s not peace. Heaven knows, we haven’t had much of that.

No. It’s the importance of us, of our side: Hu ya’aseh shalom aleinu– May He make peace for us.

I don’t believe we Jews are better than other people. I don’t suggest for a moment that peace is something only we, our side, ought to have. On the contrary.

Malki Z”L, on her way to a Passover
hike when she was 14
But losing a child to triumphant, barbarous murder is an experience – I can tell you from first-hand knowledge – that fiercely concentrates a person’s mind. It forces you to look very closely at what the enemy wants.

And then to decide what our side wants.

Some of us knew before the Hamas guy admitted it that the Gaza mob was there at the fence to do as much harm to us as humanly possible. Those who didn’t know it then must know it now, even as the BBC and its ilk conceal this reality. The Gazan side want to win, to triumph. And to destroy us.

Peace isn’t on their minds at all.

The moral confusion I mentioned just now is what causes some young Jews to lose their sense of us. Feeling part of us doesn’t, mustn’t, mean wishing bad to the other side. But it does mean understanding that if we want good – for us, and also for them – we have to protect our own side first, our own homes, our own children.

And be vigilant because we face a real, shooting, incinerating, bombing foe who means to wreak the greatest possible harm on us.

If the shocking display of Jews saying Kaddish was meant in the same way we say it for our deceased grandparents and family members, then it signifies a failure by all of us in preparing young Jews for a life that sadly includes unwanted confrontation with an unfathomable evil that targets usall of us.

But if it was intended as a cry for more peace, then I wish those young people knew, and maybe they do, that on the Israeli side, the passion for peace is real and easy to find.

If we want a passion for peace to take root among the Gazans, we owe it to ourselves to first acknowledge that calls for peace – as opposed to calls for victory, self-sacrifice and triumph – have completely gone from Gaza and not only from Gaza. And for now at least, they don’t seem to be coming back soon.

That’s something worth praying for.

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