Israel is recovering after two Palestinian terrorists burst into a Jerusalem synagogue and hacked and shot to death four Israelis, including three Americans and a policeman. Authorities are stepping up security. The gruesome attack during early morning prayers rocked the nation. “We are in the midst of a terrorist assault focused on Jerusalem,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in an address to the nation. After the attack, Israel’s public security minister announced he’d make it easier for Israelis to carry weapons for self-defence. The move is designed to help Israelis protect themselves and cope with the growing fear that an attack could happen anytime, anywhere.
“This is my life; I live here. I can’t, you know, I can’t think about it a lot ’cause it will just stop me from going places, so I’m trying to put it behind me, sort of,” a Jerusalemite name Liron said. “The Jewish people have been going through this type of thing for thousands of years already. And our only real choice is to fight the darkness with light and choose life,” Josh, who immigrated to Israel from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, 10 years ago, said The two terrorists, who were affiliated with the Palestinian Front for the Liberation of Palestine, were from Jabel Mukaber, a neighbourhood in eastern Jerusalem that gave them access to Israeli social services, the entire city, and the country.
Netanyahu said the terrorists were full of hatred against the Jewish people. But he warned Israelis not to take the law into their own hands. “We are in a lengthy war against terrorism, which did not start today,” Netanyahu told the nation. “Terrorism has followed us all the years of the Zionist enterprise. We will withstand it, as we have always done.” Following the attack, the Palestinian Authority (PA) issued contradictory messages. Some believe Secretary of State John Kerry pushed PA President Mahmoud Abbas into condemning the attack. His adviser, Sultan Abu al-Einein, praised the attack as a “heroic operation” and his political party, Fatah, announced they would hand out candy “in celebration of the Jerusalem operation.”
It was the worst terror attack in Jerusalem since 2008. Four rabbis were killed, three of them were dual American-Israeli citizens. A policeman later died from wounds sustained in the gun battle with the terrorists. “Perhaps the saving grace was that because of his commitment to the land of Israel, commitment to being in Jerusalem, that he went the way he would have wanted to go, which is in prayer in the land of Israel, in Jerusalem,” Jonathan Bein, brother-in-law of Rabbi Kalman Levin who was killed in the attack, told CBN News. Netanyahu said Israel would step up law enforcement and stiffer punishments for those who incite and increase security on the streets of Jerusalem.
Yitzhak Heshing was one of the injured. “Everyone, everywhere is in danger. Not just in Jerusalem, but everywhere,” Heshing said. “I think that what is happening is a very crazy situation. I think the incitement on the street endangers everyone, both them the Palestinians and us. It’s an extraordinary situation.” President Barack Obama condemned the attack, saying it was a tragedy for both the United States and Israel. Despite what many see as Palestinian incitement, he said, the United States wanted to help bring peace. “The United States wants to work with all parties involved to make that a reality and to isolate the kinds of extremists that are bringing about this terrible carnage,” Obama said.
A NEW CHAPTER OF HOPE BETWEEN JEWS AND CHRISTIANS IN ISRAEL
The Israeli defence establishment has decided to begin actively recruiting local Christians into the Israeli army. The move comes after years of encouragement by the Nazareth-based Israeli Christian Recruitment Forum for young Arabic-speaking Christians to voluntarily join the Israel Defence Force (IDF) so as to better integrate into Israeli society. Forum leaders have long insisted that local Christians can only expect equal opportunity when they decide to take on equal responsibility. The forum has had great influence on a number of recent government decisions, most notably the passing of a law that officially recognized local Christians as an independent minority.
The decision to send official recruitment letters to young Christians is expected to significantly boost the number of Christian soldiers in the IDF. Though the recruitment letters will look the same as those sent to young Israeli Jews, service in the IDF will remain voluntary for Christians. In response a spokesman for the Israeli Christians Recruitment Forum, Maj. (ret.) Shadi Khalloul said “The Israeli Christian Recruitment Forum welcomes this brave decision by the defence minister and the IDF chief of staff. Though the recruitment orders are voluntary, they demonstrate the seriousness and firm desire of the state to incorporate and promote the Christian population.
“This is a historic decision and the start of a new chapter of hope between Jews and Christians. Young Christians will now be able to seamlessly integrate into Israeli society and more easily climb the ladder of progress in both military and civilian life. “The Christian community is an important asset for Israel and its security. Christians are one of the best educated communities in Israel, meaning our young people can make a significant contribution both to the IDF and the state. “We believe the IDF is a central component of Israeli society that can bring the various populations together so that we can build a better future for everyone, while also ensuring the security of our community and the democratic Jewish state.
Army service is an important step toward equal opportunity. All citizens of a nation must equally share rights and duties. “The time has come for Christians to take it upon themselves to strengthen their position alongside the Jews. We see what is happening to Christians in the Arab countries. They lived the lie of unity with the Muslims and ignored the impending danger until it was too late. Conscription to the IDF is a small part of strengthening a community that seeks to live in peace and security with everyone. It seems that is the only way to defend against the broad array of enemies that Israel faces.”
ISRAELI GOVERNMENT TO LEGISLATE TO MAKE ISRAEL A JEWISH STATE
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s cabinet has voted 15 to 7 in favour of new legislation that would make official Israel’s status as the “Jewish state.” The bill, which has still to go before the Knesset, seeks to codify the national rights of Israel’s Jews, while also reinforcing the individual rights of all minorities. In practical terms, that means only Jews can make claims to a national flag, anthem and a right of immigration. In reality, the law changes nothing. The Israeli flag and anthem are already focused on the Jewish nature of the state, and only Jews are granted a “right of return.” The move is largely symbolic, but seen as important, nonetheless.
Netanyahu and many others see it as important at a time when the Palestinians and some Israeli Arab elements are trying to undermine the Jewish nature of the state and, in the prime minister’s words, “create a state within a state.” But, as seen in the vote count not everyone agreed. The cabinet only cast its votes following what was reported to be a heated shouting match between Netanyahu and some of his more left-leaning ministers. Finance Minister Yair Lapid and Justice Minister Tzipi Livni both painted the bill as racist toward the nation’s minorities. However, their outbursts seemingly failed to take into account the changes Netanyahu made to the original draft.
In its original form, the proposed legislation made Israel’s democratic nature subservient to its Jewish nature, and sought to downgrade Arabic as an official language of the state. Netanyahu was harshly critical of anyone, both in Israel or in the international community, who calls for a two-state solution, but opposes this particular bill. “They rush to recognize a state for the Palestinian people, but they strongly oppose a state for the Jewish people,” he said. Netanyahu has made Palestinian recognition of Israel as the “Jewish state” a cornerstone of his position regarding peace negotiations.