Israel, Religion

Jerusalem Mourns, Gaza Celebrates

Just a few hours ago, two gunmen opened fire at a Jerusalem yeshiva library:

At least seven students were killed and nine others were wounded Thursday evening when terrorists infiltrated the Mercaz Harav yeshiva in the Kiryat Moshe neighborhood in Jerusalem, police said.
Three of the injured were listed as being in serious condition and taken to Hadassah Medical Center in Ein Karem, while the other six were lightly hurt and taken to Sha’arei Tzedek Medical Center. MDA declared the incident a “multiple casualty event.”
At least one terrorist infiltrated the yeshiva, possibly armed with an explosive belt, and began firing in every direction.

In Gaza, Hamas welcomed the terrorist attack. “We bless the [Jerusalem] operation. It will not be the last,” Hamas said in a statement.
In Gaza City, residents went out into the streets and fired rifles in celebration in the air after hearing news of the attack on the yeshiva.

It is notable that Al Jazeera and Commentary report: “Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, condemned the attack in Jerusalem.”
One source claims this to be a yeshiva that encourages illegal West Bank Settlements, citing this as a reason for its being targeted by Palestinian militants.
May their memory be a blessing.
Best wishes for a full recovery to all of those injured.

34 thoughts on “Jerusalem Mourns, Gaza Celebrates

  1. dude why even cite that “source” about Merkaz HaRav being a “yeshiva that encourages illegal West Bank Settlements”?!!
    that’s crap and you know it. if the terrorists could just as easily access the Meretz office you think they’d hesitate to merk a bunch of people over there?
    let’s not pretend that such an act of terror is some nuanced political message.
    and really? that source is a joke.

  2. And no one here is attempting to justify this terrorist attack, only to explain it. Therefore, the truth value of the claim doesn’t actually matter; what matters is whether the people behind the attack believed it to be true.
    I think going into a building and shooting people is always wrong, regardless of political context, and condemn this terrorist attack in no uncertain terms.

  3. If we are going to talk about political context, perhaps it would also be interesting to note that the murderer was an Israeli Arab – a man with the ability to vote and otherwise express his political opinions about the settler movement without slaughtering innocent people.
    May their memories be for a blessing. If you have a few moments, please try to do some Torah learning in their honor.
    oseh shalom bimromav hu ya’aseh shalom aleinu v’al kol yisrael v’al kol yoshveh tevel

  4. It sounds like he was an east Jerusalem resident, not an Israeli citizen. Not that that makes it ok to go into a building and shoot people.

  5. BZ, I think it’s sad that you need to condemn the attack. You’re Jewish, it should go without saying. Not, by the way, because you’re Zionist (i don’t know if you are), but because it is repugnant to our faith. There is no explanation, there are no reasons for someone to do this. A person who views other life that way doesn’t deserve to live. The man walked into a school cafeteria and shot up students. By any metric, any civilization that is ok with such actions is a failure. And should be treated as such. I just pray to G-d I know no one who might have been in that room.

  6. “I think going into a building and shooting people is always wrong, regardless of political context.”
    Just out of curiosity, does everyone agree with this statement? I’m actually not sure I do – I can think of situations where the wrongness of the act might be mitigated. (Obviously, this act isn’t one of them, at least not for me. But I can imagine some).

  7. Miri– hm, aside from things like the Israeli rescue in Entebbe in ’76, I’m drawing a blank.

  8. From the NY times: “The yeshiva is famous, a symbol of the national religious strain of Judaism that provides the backbone of the settler movement.”
    while a more reputable news source than the PA mouthpiece you originall cited, the Times makes the same absurd suggestion: that an act of terror is really some sort of calculated/nuanced political message. (astute readers of the Times won’t be surprised at this absurdity.)
    in fact the Times’ piece is even more insidious: while the Palestinian news agency clearly presents the settler movement affiliation as an added justification for the attack, the Times just sort of “adds it” on the sly (*wink, wink*), you know just as an added detail to describe the site of the attack (yeah right).
    the bottom line is dead Jews are dead Jews. to pretend that these terrorists quietly debated the merits of Rav Kook’s teachings before selecting their target would be laughable — if we weren’t talking about a mass murder.

  9. “One source claims this to be a yeshiva that encourages illegal West Bank Settlements, citing this as a reason for its being targeted by Palestinian militants.”
    The best source is the Hamas leadership, which clearly states that its goal is the destruction of the state of Israel, to be replaced by an Islamic entity, from the river to the sea. They say it all of the time, and have never–once–wavered from this position all of these years. What other source do we need?

  10. BZ, I think it’s sad that you need to condemn the attack. You’re Jewish, it should go without saying.
    Geez, we just can’t win. Of course it should go without saying (and it would even if I weren’t Jewish), but I just posted that obvious comment as a placeholder to preempt any ridiculous charges of “You people condemn the actions of the IDF but you won’t condemn the murder of innocent Jews!!1!”.
    I just pray to G-d I know no one who might have been in that room.
    This is prohibited in Mishnah Berachot 9:3. (Not that we don’t all do it in the moment.)

  11. BZ, I think it’s sad that you need to condemn the attack. You’re Jewish, it should go without saying.
    This is among the more ridiculous things I’ve heard and seems more like a personal attack on BZ than anything else. A terrorist attack occurs in the city where BZ lives and he shouldn’t condemn it?! Jews shouldn’t publicly condemn acts of terror against them?! Yes, definitely, let’s all be silent and not say anything about anti-Jewish violence. Then BearsforIsrael can come along and accuse the non-condemners of being self-hating anti-Israel Jews. Give me a break.

  12. PS: Haaretz itself is reporting on character of the yeshiva being relevant to the attack, although in a slightly different way:
    As the flagship of national-religious yeshivas, the religious right is bound to attribute greater symbolic meaning to a terrorist attack here than anywhere else.
    and
    The foundations for the religious settlements in the West Bank were forged in Mercaz Harav, whose student Hanan Porat set out to restore the Jewish settlement in Gush Etzion immediately after the Six-Day War. The founders of Gush Emunim, a religious political movement that encouraged Jewish settlement of land they believe God promised the Jews, came from Mercaz Harav after the Yom Kippur War.
    Rabbi Kook encouraged his students to go out and fight for the settlements in the West Bank. He himself took active part in these struggles.

  13. while a more reputable news source than the PA mouthpiece you originall cited, the Times makes the same absurd suggestion: that an act of terror is really some sort of calculated/nuanced political message.
    Message or no message, it had a political goal: to derail peace talks. I’m glad Israel didn’t take the bait.
    (Having a political goal is what definitionally separates terrorism from random violence, like Columbine.)

  14. And if the New York Times and Ha’aretz are too left-wing for you, here’s the Jerusalem Post:
    Rarely have terrorists chosen their target with so much malicious care as in Thursday night’s attack on Jerusalem’s Mercaz Harav Yeshiva.
    […]
    The death toll last night was nowhere near the worst of those attacks they have carried out in the past. But in bringing their war of terror right into the halls of Mercaz Harav, the institution founded by and embodied with the spirit of the Zionist’s movement’s most revered religious figure, the Yishuv’s first Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi Avraham Yitzhak Hacohen Kook, the terrorists struck with the most terribly precise accuracy they have demonstrated to date.

  15. [i]In Gaza, the radical Islamic movement Hamas did not take responsibility for the yeshiva attack but praised it. In a text message, Hamas said: “We bless the operation. It will not be the last.”[/i]
    In a text message? Wtf?

  16. BearsForIsrael:
    There is no explanation, there are no reasons for someone to do this.
    If you mean there are no good reasons, or no morally justifiable reasons, then I agree with you. But of course the attacker had a reason. He had a choice between staying home to watch soccer and shooting lots of innocent people, and chose the latter. It’s not what you or I would have chosen, but he had his reasons. And if we want to prevent this tragedy in the future, we have to try to understand what those reasons are.
    Even if you think that trying to understand Palestinians merely because they are human beings is a bunch of dirty hippie nonsense, even if you think that the Palestinians are an enemy that must be crushed, it is still worthwhile in service of that goal to try to understand them. Go watch The Fog of War, in which dirty hippie Robert McNamara says that one of the 11 lessons he learned from the Vietnam War was “Empathize with your enemy.” The failure to understand this at the time led to failure in Vietnam.

  17. “I think going into a building and shooting people is always wrong, regardless of political context, and condemn this terrorist attack in no uncertain terms.”
    very off-putting. if a relative of yours was killed G-d forbid, would you “condemn” the killing and say “shooting people is always wrong”, damn-it, its your relative, family, for heaven sakes.
    not that you don’t have the same intentions as myself, just your choice of wording seem too soft and that your out of touch.

  18. No doubt that Hamas has its own morality: they don’t attack
    schools, hospitals, synagogues, etc. This particular yeshiva
    was attacked surely because it is the flagship of the settlement movement.
    Still, Hamas, as it has a morality, has a very clear ideology:
    Destruction of the state of Israel, to be replaced by an Islamic entity. They can’t be more clear about this.
    So why is there an argument here about why Hamas attacked this yeshiva? They tell us themselves, all of the time!

  19. Well, apparently the gunman was a driver at the school:
    http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/961966.html
    So as I was saying all along in this thread, this dude chose the yeshiva because it was the target to which he had the easiest access — not because Hamas has some particular ideological opposition to Rav Kook, the settlement enterprise, etc.
    So again, no significance (to the terrorist) in the school’s settler affiliation. Simply a nice cocncentration of Jews to which the killer had ready access.
    To continue to harp on the settler/Rabbi Kook (the younger) connection is to soften the impact of the attack (i.e. settlers deserve it) when in reality Hamas couldn’t give a f*ck which Jews they kill.

  20. the simple fact of the matter is that zvi yehuda kook, who took the helm of mercaz harav after his father’s passing, was the founder of gush emunim, the progenitor of the modern religious zionist movement, claimed that it was the halakhic obligation of jews to settle every inch of biblical israel, and called on his followers in 1967 to settle the occupied territories. his yeshiva bears direct responsibility for encouraging religious zionist extremism in its worst forms, which includes the advent of kahanist terrorism against palestinians.
    israeli arabs comprise 30% of israel’s population. their involvement in acts of terror against israelis is an all together rare occurrence. the suggestion that the yeshiva was targeted simply because it was “an easy target” for the gunman seems less likely than the notion that the gunman himself was targeted by militants because he had worked at the yeshiva, which is a powerfully symbolic target. as is often the case, he may have been forced into the position of carrying out the attack, probably under the threat of harm against his family. we shall see what the investigation concludes.
    nonetheless, whatever the ideological differences between the attacker and the attacked, there is never any excuse for the politically motivated killing of unarmed civilians. this was a vile and cruel act that cannot be justified. my heart goes out to the families of the victims, to the students of mercaz harav and to all of jerusalem.

  21. Mobius writes:
    nonetheless, whatever the ideological differences between the attacker and the attacked, there is never any excuse for the politically motivated killing of unarmed civilians. this was a vile and cruel act that cannot be justified.
    Mobius, I think it’s sad that you need to say that there is no excuse for this attack. You’re Jewish, it should go without saying.
    very off-putting. if a relative of yours was killed G-d forbid, would you say “this was a vile and cruel act that cannot be justified”, damn-it, its your relative, family, for heaven sakes.
    not that you don’t have the same intentions as myself, just your choice of wording seem too soft and that your out of touch.

  22. Mobius,
    Everything you write makes sence (as usual.)
    But why is there an argument as to why Hamas might choose this or that target for attacks?
    They make distinctions between civilians and combatants, as do Israelis. But what does that matter?
    Their avowed goal is the destruction of the state of Israel–that is their right.
    We have the right to attack them in order to defend that state, if that is what is required under the circumstances.

  23. bz: very off-putting. if a relative of yours was killed G-d forbid, would you say “this was a vile and cruel act that cannot be justified”, damn-it, its your relative, family, for heaven sakes. not that you don’t have the same intentions as myself, just your choice of wording seem too soft and that your out of touch.
    i spent two paragraphs explaining why mercaz harav was a sensible target and why i’m not racing to identify the gunman as an insane jew-hating arab. the only way that wasn’t going to fly back in my face is if i added a caveat at the end that i consider what he did unjustified. you may give me the benefit of the doubt that i consider the act deplorable. certain other commenters on this blog would not.
    jonathan: But why is there an argument as to why Hamas might choose this or that target for attacks?
    because why that yeshiva? why not one of thousands of other unguarded yeshivas? not every target is randomly selected.

  24. Mobius–
    Obviously this wasn’t an attack on a random target.
    But when ShamirPower posts that…
    a source “claims this to be a yeshiva that encourages illegal West Bank Settlements, citing this as a reason for its being targeted by Palestinian militants”…
    it leaves the impression that Hamas makes a distinction between the settlement movement and other strains within Zionism.
    But Hamas’s problem is not with this or that yeshivah, but rather with the entire state of Israel–which in their eyes is an illegal settlement.
    Ok, I’ve written way too much.

  25. Mobius writes:
    i spent two paragraphs explaining why mercaz harav was a sensible target and why i’m not racing to identify the gunman as an insane jew-hating arab. the only way that wasn’t going to fly back in my face is if i added a caveat at the end that i consider what he did unjustified. you may give me the benefit of the doubt that i consider the act deplorable. certain other commenters on this blog would not.
    Mobius-
    Of course. Go back and look at the top of the thread. I was just parroting back (with minor changes) the absurd comments that I received when I tried to do the same thing. Come on, you know that my own comments at the very least generally have a higher standard of grammar and spelling.

  26. It is necessary to over and over again deplore this terrible attack, and it does not “go without saying.” This past Friday night there was a pro-terror rally in downtown San Francisco by Islamists and their far left supporters, including many Jews. In fact, they made a point of noting how many Jews they had with them.
    This is same group that says “Palestine is Our Land/Jews are our Dogs” and “With our spirit and our blood we will liberate you oh Palestine” and wave flags with bloody fists.
    In the announcement for this event on a message board, people were gloating over the attack.
    The attack must be repeatedly condemned for the monstrous act that it was. If it was to attack the ideology of religious Zionism, then attack the teachers and administrators, not the kids.
    There is little difference between this attack and the one that murdered teenagers standing in line at a disco or eating pizza. The only this time, and it is a small difference, is that an ideologically problematic taget was picked so as to put the anti-terror contingent on the defensive.
    I am not buying it.

  27. I thought I read somewhere that the perp was actually once employed as a driver by the Yeshiva. Aside from explaining how he could’ve just walked in with a weapon, is it possible that this was just a disgruntled ex-employee gone postal and b/c of the timing and location this has taken on the political/terror/ideological connotations that you all have taken off and run with in your comments? Has anybody found any journalists looking at that possibility?

  28. JTA reports:
    A Palestinian terrorist struck the Mercaz Harav yeshiva as a deliberate ideological blow to Israel, Ehud Olmert said.
    “The attacker didn’t come to Mercaz Harav yeshiva by chance. It was not a place the killer just happened upon while looking for would-be victims,” the Israeli prime minister told his cabinet in broadcast statements Sunday, calling the seminary “the flagship of national religious Zionism.”
    http://www.jta.org/cgi-bin/iowa/news/article/20080309olmertyeshiva.html

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