The Author


The terror attacks against the Dawabsha family and Shira Banki were rightfully condemned by all segments of Israeli society. We cannot tolerate it when Jewish morality and uniqueness are misrepresented and violated.

Moses’ request to God to enter Israel was not simply a reflection of generic nationalistic emotions felt by a great leader. The Talmud informs us that it was an indication of a singular commitment to the uniqueness that is the Jewish People. Why did he want to enter Israel? To be part of the moral uniqueness of what the Jewish People are to represent as a communal, political, national entity. He was not simply united with Israel. He was united with the distinct values of Israel.

It is in this regard that I especially feel sorrow for the events of last week. The condemnation by all segments of Israeli society, including the highest governmental offices, of the terrorist attack against the Dawabsha family – as presented in this website’s post, “Israelis United in Outrage Over Terror Attack Against Innocent Palestinian Family” – rightfully reflects the response we should expect from the nation that is to represent the specialness of values that is Israel. In fact, we should, upon hearing the news of such a terrorist attack, be even more grieved by it than the so many others that have assaulted our people. The possibility of Jews acting in such a horrendous manner, especially as a reflection of their Jewishness, violates our very soul. We are not simply to be a nation like any other, applying a yardstick of generic, self-serving nationalism to determine right and wrong. We are to be Israel, representing the uniqueness of our Divine moral commitment as a nation that is to represent Him in this world. The united, overall response to this terror attack indicated this. As Moses demonstrated, the greater ideal is to be united with the specialness of Israel. We especially cannot tolerate it when this distinctiveness is misrepresented and thereby violated.

It is in the same vein that I also feel equally horrified by the stabbings that occurred at the gay pride parade in Jerusalem and the death of Shira Banki. This type of “zealotry” is not a call from the God of Israel and, in its presentation as a reflection of Jewishness, is an affront to Jewish values. We are also not simply to be a religion like any other. We see all around us the call of such generic zealotry of religion. The God of Israel, though, only made one declaration in favor of the actions of a zealot – the Biblical Pinchas – but in so doing, His further lesson was that this was, most importantly, a singular case. Pinchas was an exception, for specific reasons, that teaches us the general evil of such zealotry and that it is not to have a place in the normative life and values of our people. We, again, especially cannot tolerate it when our specialness is misrepresented and thereby violated.

What the Enemies of Israel Want

This is what the enemies of Israel actually want: to define us like everyone else. Any terrible, violent action committed by Israelis allows the world to pronounce that this nation is just like everyone else. The gross deviation in the perpetration of such violence, in extent and number, is summarily ignored; a little more, a little less. Included in our consideration, thus, must always be our uniqueness. On this, we must truly grieve in regard to any deviation from within. Last week, we saw two such deviations – and so they were declared by all segments of Israeli society and demonstrated to the world. Our response cannot be just unity with Israel but unity with Israel’s uniqueness.

Article by Benjamin Hecht

Rabbi Benjamin Hecht is the founding director of Nishma, which fosters the critical investigation of contemporary issues. For further info, see and You can follow Rabbi Hecht on Twitter @NishmaTorah.