The “oy gevalt” theory of history

This is the gist of my talk to the dedicated Winter in Netanya (WIN) group of women volunteers who come to Israel every winter and help out in numerous good causes.

With our Jewish sense of victim-hood there is something I call the “oy gevalt” theory of history.  Like all other Jews I am disturbed by the continuing loss of life of Israelis to stabbings by Palestinian teens.  Each victim is a personal tragedy.  But, many of those teens are shot dead at the time of the attacks or are killed or captured afterwards by Israeli security forces.  In fact to date in the last year ca. 32 Israeli Jews have been killed by terrorists and 162 Palestinians have been killed by security forces. We should not forget that many more Jews would be killed if we did not have the security forces to protect us.  Its like comparing how many Jews were killed before we had the State and the IDF (for example during the Shoah) to how many were killed afterwards. I know what situation I prefer.   These attacks are of a most basic and primitive kind and show the level of desperation of the leadership of the Palestinian movement that they sacrifice their youth to this barbarity, without any effective outcome.

We should also note that not only is the loss of Israeli lives from traffic accidents much greater (x 10) than the loss of life from these isolated terrorist attacks, but also the loss of lives are decreasing with time as the number and intensity of attacks are reduced.  With time we develop effective means to defeat every new method used by our enemy.  Also, last year ca. 32,000 immigrants settled in Israel, compared to the 32 or so Israelis that have been killed in these terrorist attacks.  We should keep a sense of proportions regarding this situation.

Although all Jewish lives are precious, we must have a sense of proportions and a historic perspective.  I am not a believer, but if I were I would think that God has answered our prayers by totally destroying the enemy countries of Syria, Iraq and Libya, and making the Egyptian threat negligible.  It’s true that there are still threats to Israel from Hamas, the Islamic State, Hizbollah and Iran.  But, these are not imminently existential threats.  Hamas is a thorn in our side, but not a serious threat. The Islamic State is no match for the IDF if we had to fight them, although for the foreseeable future we don’t have to, others are doing that work.  And Hizbollah is otherwise engaged supporting the Syrian regime of Bashar Assad, while Iran is currently unable to develop nuclear weapons supposedly for at least another ten years, because of the agreement that it signed with the international community.  Meanwhile Israel continues to develop and widen the gap between us and our enemies.  Things are not as bad as many Jews suppose.


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