Three Brothers Down in Israel

COMMENTARY BY CHAYIM TAUBER

I lost three brothers this week. Israel lost three sons.

The weekend prior, Jewish homes worldwide lit candles as both prayer and vigil for the three teenagers, Naftali Fraenkel (16), Gilad Shaar (16), and Eyal Yifrach (19). It was a gesture equal parts prayer and symbolic unity.

Though that communal sense of pride and unity has endured longer than the lives of the three murdered teenagers, the prayers are no longer necessary as the IDF confirmed that the three bodies located near Hebron were indeed the remains of the three missing youths.

The three teens were hitching a ride near Alon Shvut towards Beit Shemesh around 10:15 PM so that they could get home in Central Israel. That’s as close to home as they ever got as they were shot, the original vehicle (a Hyundai i35) was burned, and three innocent lives cut down before ever being given the opportunity to flourish.

The two suspected murderers are both known members of Hamas (who have denied any responsibility for the kidnapping/murder) who had been suspected for terrorist activity previously. Their names will not be printed here so as not to further iconize them to those that see them as martyrs or mujahedeen. There were those handing candies out to children when the kidnapping was announced. It was a holiday, a day to rejoice. They had landed a glorious blow to their sworn enemy in the form of two sixteen and one nineteen your old boys. In the days since the announcement that the three teenagers were murdered, pictures have surfaced all over social media with Palestinians raising a celebratory “three” symbol or having a cake with the phrase “Hebron 3” written on it. The phrase “three_GiladShalits”, the captured Israeli soldier that was swapped for hundreds of jailed terrorists, was seen on photos that have been popping up and according to the IDF’s blog, an alarming amount of Palestinians have changed their Facebook profile to an images showing three raised fingers. Children included.

Former Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir famously said that “Peace will come when the Arabs love their children more than they hate us.” Never has that sentiment rung truer or been more obviously accentuated.

Since the kidnapping had been announced, over the 18 days since the search for the bodies had been conducted prior to the discovery of their lifeless bodies, the silence had been deafening.

On June 17th, a UN spokesperson would not confirm a kidnapping saying only that the three teens were “missing”. The next day, he urged both side to exercise restraint. On Tuesday, July 1 (the day after the bodies were discovered), UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon issued a statement condemning the “murder of the three Israeli teenagers” but exhorted both sides not to respond. It was their first acknowledgement of something awry other than that these teenagers were “missing”.

In the days since, the UN has condemned Israel for their “disproportionate response”. Proportionate response would of course be the kidnapping and murder of three innocent Palestinian children followed by nation-wide celebration so I’m not sure exactly what it is the UN was hoping for nor do I know what they’d consider proportionate and acceptable response. Still, that phrase “disproportionate response” has been bandied about a lot regarding Israel. Israel’s conducted a series of targeted strikes of late against Hamas strongholds. Two members of Hamas are suspected of murdering teenagers. That is indeed disproportionate. As is the missiles launched at Israeli settlements and towns, while Israeli strikes remain tactical and targeted. “Disproportionate response” remains the go-to-phrase as it pertains to Israel and they were duly warned to sit on their hands and not do anything rash after their children were murdered.

The White House was silent through these past 18 days. After news broke that the three bodies were found, President Obama was mum on the topic as he convened with alien amnesty advocates at the Rose Garden. Not a mention of the kidnap or killing of the Israeli teenagers or even of Fraenkel, an American citizen. The reaction from the White House regarding this tragedy lies in stark contrast to their reaction to other recent events. President Obama publicly mourned the passing of Trayvon Martin saying that he saw his own son in Martin. First Lady Michelle Obama jumped on the social media bandwagon within days and appeared on twitter holding a #BringBackOurGirls sign in response to the Boko Haram kidnapping and enslavement. The White House offered “their prayers for the missing teens” on twitter a week after they were kidnapped.

The White House did finally release a statement offering “sincerest condolences” and condemning it as a “terrorist act” before urging that no one do anything rash that could “further destabilize the situation”. John Kerry essentially echoed the White House’s prepared statement. As if the status quo could be categorized as a “stable” situation so long as there are no reprisals or reactions. Political correctness obviously takes precedent at 1600 Penn Avenue.

Even if you’re a member of the BDS movement, even if you’re one of those that believe that Israel is the evil occupier and guilty of war-crimes, is this the answer? The Kidnap and murder of three innocent teenagers (one of whom wasn’t even Israeli)? A perceived war-crime to be answered with a war crime?

In an interview with Israel’s Channel 10 News, the mother of one of the murder suspects denied her son’s involvement but added that if her were responsible, she’d be “proud”. She explained that she raised her child a Muslim and anything he did to help procure a victory for Islam makes her proud. In a separate interview, the mothers of the suspects claimed no kidnapping or murder occurred and that it is all an Israeli/Jewish “stunt” to garner global sympathy.

I may not be the most religious of folk but I know a little bit. I’ve heard of religions that demand human sacrifice. I’ve also obviously learned that every religion has their heroes and martyrs. I’ve yet to hear of one that demands the kidnap and murder of innocent teenagers just trying to get home. I fail to see how that’s “a victory for Islam”.

These boys were sacrificed on the altar of hate and ignorance. They were babes, not yet old enough to drink in the States, who were essentially ripped out of their mothers’ arms and slaughtered. “Don’t upset the peace” is the world’s response.

This is a manifesto. This is a call to powers in Washington to stop envisioning the Nobel Prize that could be resting on your mantle and think instead of your children. Think of your country. If this happened in the US and the kidnappers were members of a known and recognized terrorist organization, the response would be swift and unrelenting. We would demand the cooperation of the perpetrator’s government and hunt them down. Hamas has threatened to “open the gates of hell” on Israel should they strike in Gaza. Put aside the political niceties for the time being and support an ally in mourning. A nation devastated by senseless brutalization.

Hellen Keller once said about friendship, “I’d rather walk with a friend in the dark than alone in the light.” Mr. President, Secretary of State, all the other big-wigs in Washington… Israel is very much in the dark right now and if you could allow yourselves just a moment of respite from your own political ambitions (read: having your name inextricably linked with “peace in the middle east”), it’s time to truly be Israel’s friend and ally. Walk with her through the dark rather than warn her to wait for the morning light. Her children were taken and slaughtered by an enemy whose charter still includes the mission of pushing Israel into the sea.

These boys never built settlements, threw rocks, or set up checkpoints. They didn’t “occupy” anything. Hell, they never even marched in the Israeli Day Parade. Now they never will.

The Jewish community’s grief, outrage, and heartache is palpable. Where is the rest of the world’s?