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Fighting Death with Life

March 20, 2019
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Memorial to the Victims of Acts of Terror. Plaques listing names of terror victims from 2000 onward.

Since the rebirth of the state, the threat of terror has loomed like a menacing cloud over everyday life in Israel. Sometimes the attacks occur sporadically, allowing Israel time to breathe between tragedies. Sometimes they come in waves, with Palestinian suicide bombers, gunmen and knife-wielding murderers turning city streets into bloody battlefields. The statistics of terror attacks and those who perished are shocking. Yet even in the face of mortal danger, life in the Jewish state goes on. It must.

How do normal people living normal lives manage to go about normal everyday activities when something as abnormal as terror lurks?

The answer lays, perhaps, in the legacy of a people, woven together from the threads of persecution, near annihilation and a tenacity to live that defies all odds. There is an old Jewish anecdote that is told and retold on every feast and festival celebrated in the Land of Promise. With wry wit it is said to offer the crux of every significant event in Jewish history: “They tried to kill us. We survived. Let’s eat.”

Yet the old anecdote tells but half the story. The Jews did not merely survive. When numerous enemies came against the people of Promise in a flood of destruction, their answer was to cling to life with determined joy.

In generations gone by, the Jewish people faced the Egyptian slave masters, the Babylonian, Greek and Roman legions, the Crusaders, the Spanish inquisitors and the Nazi hordes. Today, their descendents face the threat of Palestinian terror with the same refusal to cower, the same dogged determination to live full, joyous lives.

Generations of near extermination and seventy odd years of Arab violence have taught the Jews that there can be no cowering, no crouching and no hiding away in the face of terror. Mere survival is, after all, only half an existence. In the face of terror, when the threat of annihilation or death crouches close, the people of Israel know the only answer is to live—out loud, on purpose and joyously.

Israel fights the darkness with light. It fights death with live.

…therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live…
—Deuteronomy 30:19

We will not be vanquished. We’re choosing life.
—Yael Kolman, after learning that her son, Adiel, was murdered in a Palestinian terror attack

How do you defeat terrorism? Don’t be terrorized. Don’t let fear rule your life. Even if you are scared.
—Salman Rushdie, in Step Across This Line: Collected Nonfiction 1992–2002

Terrorist hides knife in a can of Pringles

An Incubator for Terror

“The Jews love life, so that is what we shall take away from them. We are going to win, because they love life and we love death.”
—Hassan Nasrallah, Secretary General of Lebanese terror organization, Hezbollah

“We bless every drop of blood that has been spilt for Jerusalem…Every martyr will reach Paradise and everyone wounded will be rewarded by Allah.”
—Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas

“We wanted to kill…[t]he Jews. There was no reason for it, we just wanted to kill.”
— Kifah Ghanimat, Palestinian terrorist who murdered two women

Good Will Prevail

“Lots of countries, like Israel, live with terrorism every day, and it doesn’t impact their integrity.”
—Robert Kennedy, Jr.

“It is important to understand that we are dealing with the war between the sons of light and the sons of darkness. Ori [Ansbacher, 19, brutally murdered by a Palestinian terrorist in February] was full of goodness, light and kindness. There are people here who are looking to do evil, and the gap between her joy and her light compared to this criminal murderer symbolizes that. We believe that the good will win, that its light will win—that good must prevail.”
—Boaz Bar Yuda, Ori Ansbacher’s uncle

“I arrived at the hospital lying down, and I am leaving it on foot. I will prove to them [the terrorists], I will show them. I will bring many more babies into this world. Am Yisrael chai [the nation of Israel lives].
—Shira Ish-Ran, who was seven months pregnant when she was shot by a Palestinian gunman in a terror attack. She was rushed to the hospital, where surgeons delivered her baby in an emergency C-Section. Doctors at the neonatal intensive care unit fought for days to save the newborn, but his condition deteriorated. The night he died, the baby boy was named Amiad Yisrael (Amiad means “my nation is eternal”). Amiad is Israel’s youngest victim of terror.

“We always watched the news together and wondered how families and wives could be so strong. But that is what we do. We get knocked down and we get right back up, because life is a package deal and we can’t pick and choose. We must accept the good and the bad. Now it is my turn to be strong and continue onward.”
—Miriam Fuld eulogizes murdered husband Ari Fuld

“Our enemies think they could make us abandon the land. We crush their hopes by becoming stronger, building communities and having children.”
—Minister Naftali Bennett

“They wish to uproot, we will build. The Palestinian Authority encourages and funds terrorists; we will make life bloom.”
—Minister Ayelet Shaked

“We survived Pharaoh. We survived the Greeks. We survived the Romans. We survived the inquisition in Spain. We have the pogroms in Russia. We survived Hitler…We survived the Holocaust. We survived the armies of seven Arab countries. We survived Saddam. We will continue to survive the enemies present today…The Arabs do not know yet, but they will learn there is a God…He never sleeps or will never sleep…the Guardian of Israel…Hashem, God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.”
—Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

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