We do not dance at the death of our enemies

11.10.04

I will not shed any tears for Arafat. He was a murderer, an innovator of nothing but terrorism, and a failure in his supposed “causes”. I’m sickened by how the world has accorded him status of a “national leader” when he’s really nothing more than a thug.

But I refuse to rejoice at the news of his death. I won’t cry but I won’t dance for joy either.

Of course, there’s a practical reason. Arafat’s death likely means civil war for the Palestinians. As the various factions fracture and try to outdo each other, I fear more Israeli deaths amidst the chaos – both of Zahal soldiers and of civilians. There is no reason to rejoice even the prospect of this.

But beyond that, I find it gruesome and morally reprehensible to rejoice at the death of anyone, even an enemy. Maybe even especially an enemy. That’s what gives us our humanity. That’s what gives us our respect for life and our love of life and our unwavering commitment to celebrating life, not death.

Arafat embraced death. He wanted to die a “martyr”. He sent scores of Palestinians out to murder Israelis with bombs strapped to their chests. In his arithmetic, every Israeli death was a Palestinian victory and every Palestinian death was a Palestinian victory.

When I see footage of Palestinians dancing in the streets after 9/11 or after a suicide bombing against Israelis, it makes my stomach turn. When I hear firing of guns in the air and cries of revenge at every funeral for a “martyr”, it makes me realize that there are those who view loving life as Israel’s weakness.

It’s not a weakness. It’s a strength. And that is why I will not share in the sentiment that is being expressed in some circles of happiness at the news of Arafat’s death.

But Israelis do not dance and rejoice at death. They dance and rejoice at life. They love life. They embrace life, living it to its fullest and then some. It’s a marked difference that’s obvious to even the casual observer.

I’m not sorry Arafat’s dead. But I refuse to celebrate death in even the smallest way. I prefer to celebrate life.

Update: In case you’re wondering, I don’t view participation in Meryl’s call to donate $25 to Magen David Adom as a celebration of death. To me, that’s the ultimate way to affirm the protection of life in the face of news of the death of a terrorist. If Arafat caused so many thousands of people to need ambulances, it is the support of people who care that will provide the ambulances to help them. Personally, I can’t think of anything more fitting.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

1 DaninVan 11.11.04 at 3:24 PM

So, you don’t approve of Purim? Hamentaschen will never pass your lips?

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2 segacs 11.11.04 at 3:32 PM

That’s celebration that the Jewish people are alive and spared, not celebration at the death of enemies. Most Jewish holidays are similar celebrations. “They tried to kill us, we won, let’s eat” as Meryl so succinctly brings up. Nothing wrong with celebrating life.

But I still maintain that it’s wrong to celebrate death.

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3 Josh 11.11.04 at 6:37 PM

The near future will not be a happy one for the Jews, so let us celebrate this great news now. After that comes the tried and proven to fail ‘confidence building measures’, the appeasement when the next terrorist attacks occur so as not to harm the ‘moderates’ attempts at reigning in the ‘militants’, and negotiations about retreating from Jewish land.

Proverbs
Chapter 11

7 When a wicked man dieth, his expectation shall perish, and the hope of strength perisheth.
10 When it goeth well with the righteous, the city rejoiceth; and when the wicked perish, there is joy.

And from today’s tehilim/psalms

Chapter 129
1 A Song of Ascents. {N}
‘Much have they afflicted me from my youth up’, let Israel now say;
2 ‘Much have they afflicted me from my youth up; but they have not prevailed against me.
3 The plowers plowed upon my back; they made long their furrows.
4 The LORD is righteous; He hath cut asunder the cords of the wicked.’
5 Let them be ashamed and turned backward, all they that hate Zion.
6 Let them be as the grass upon the housetops, which withereth afore it springeth up;
7 Wherewith the reaper filleth not his hand, nor he that bindeth sheaves his bosom.
8 Neither do they that go by say: ‘The blessing of the LORD be upon you; {N}
we bless you in the name of the LORD.’ {P}

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