A Palestinian gunmen today walked into Merkaz Harav Yeshiva gunning down eight boys in the middle of prayers. This horrible act of terror is but another sad chapter in this 60-year war. Yet, it represents an emerging trend in the sorry state of relations between Palestinians and Israelis–one based in the house of study. As this war continues, it’s bloodying and blurring the lines between what is politics and what is theology, what is sacred and what is profane, and what is holy and what is secular. A 60-year battle is being re-turned into an eternal war.
To understand the significance of this act one needs to understand who and what is Merkaz ha-Rav. Simply put, the act is nothing short of a Jew walking in to Al-Ahzar University or Notre Dame and wantonly killing Christians taking the Eucharist or Muslims prostrating themselves to Allah. Mercaz is the leading religious Zionist learning center. It is also a hotbed of settler ideology and the recent events will only further radicalize the student body.
There is much to be said regarding this scene of bloodshed occurring in this specific house of study. There is also much to be said about the holy books lying on the ground strewn with blood. There is also much more to be said about what it means that is horrid act took place right before the festival of Purim when Jews in Persia thousands of years ago overcame the threat of annihilation. But now is not the time for academic conversations and intellectual meanderings about warring ideologies and fundamentalisms.
Now is a time to weep, to weep for the dead, to weep for what has been made profane, for what cannot be celebrated and for what cannot be saved.
Now is also the time for Muslim’s around the world to express their commitment to te project of humanity. Let me just say for record shame on every Muslim who does not outright condemn this heinous crime. Shame on every Muslim cleric who tries to wash his hands by saying “what do you expect when Israel…” as if this is what we should expect from any living creature.