April 5, 2022
Sondra Oster Baras
Ramadan began on Saturday and the Arabs are going crazy. Of course, not all Arabs. But in the days that led up to Ramadan and since, terrorism has reared its ugly head once again. Arab citizens of Israel as well as their Palestinian co-religionists, have attacked and murdered Jews in Beersheva, Hadera and Bnei Brak. A terrorist got on a bus in Gush Etzion and repeatedly stabbed a passenger with a screw-driver in his chest. Young Arabs have attacked police in the Old City of Jerusalem and the security services are on high alert as Muslims flock to the Temple Mount for the Ramadan prayers.
The Muslim calendar is a lunar one and each lunar year is 11 days shorter than the solar year. While the Jewish calendar includes a leap year every few years to bring the two calendars more in sync, the Muslim calendar does not. So each year, Ramadan falls 11 days earlier than the year before.
Last year, during the month of May, Ramadan brought incredible terrorism to Israel. And for the first time, Israeli Arabs joined the fray. Jews living in the mixed cities of Jaffa and Lod in particular, were attacked by their Arab neighbors, despite years of living in neighborly relations. The scars from those terrible days in May last year remain. So much trust was broken. So many friendships were shattered.
Last year, the Arabs of Gaza also got involved and rained missiles and artillery fire on Israel. Missiles even reached Jerusalem. My own community of Karnei Shomron was targeted for the first time.
As we note the recent surge in terrorism, we are all wondering if it will escalate. Will rockets begin to fall?
The challenges of this type of terrorism are also much greater than before. Every night, the IDF arrests terrorists and prevents terrorist attacks from happening. Their intelligence is amazing and they are able to identify and catch terrorists before they succeed in targeting their prey. Just the other night, they apprehended terrorists as they were driving a car out of Samaria towards their target in an Israeli city. The car was loaded with explosives and the terrorists were armed with M16 submachine guns. As the IDF drew near, the terrorists opened fire. The soldiers were wounded but were able to respond and kill the terrorists before they could do further damage. A major terrorist attack was averted.
But many of the terrorists operating today are not part of a terrorist network. They are fed violent and subversive material on social media, in their mosques and among their families. They are encouraged to murder Jews and will often decide on their violent course of action on the spur of the moment, sharing their plans with nobody, making it almost impossible for intelligence to ferret out their plans. And these “lone wolves” are the most difficult to anticipate.
While the security forces are working to find the most effective way to combat terrorism, especially when it comes from the Arab citizens of Israel, which are much harder to identify, we are all struggling with our relationships with our Arab neighbors. Those who seem to seek peace and friendly relations with Jews — can we trust them? Are they for real?
While it is not always easy to know, there are some Arabs who have demonstrated time and again that they have truly placed their lot with the Jewish people. And one such hero from recent events stands out above all.
Sergeant Amir Khoury was a member of the Israeli Border Patrol. He was a commander of the elite motorcycle unit, stationed in Bnei Brak. When a Palestinian terrorist went on a shooting spree in that city, murdering civilians indiscriminately, including a father walking his baby in a baby carriage, the motorcycle unit was the first to respond. Without hesitation, Amir charged the terrorist. He was killed by the terrorist but not before he managed to shoot the terrorist and stop the carnage. Amir saved tens of Jews and paid with his life. Amir was an Arab citizen of Israel. Amir was also a Christian.
The rabbis and leaders of Bnei Brak, as well as rabbis and leaders from all over Israel, flocked to the home of Amir’s parents, paying honor to his memory and offering support to his family. Each one expressed their deepest appreciation, not only for a national hero but for a non-Jew who paid the ultimate price to save Jews. And there are Muslims who are doing the same — members of the IDF and of the police and other good citizens who have taken a stand against the violence and have placed their lot with the Jewish people. These are the people we welcome and honor. And we can only hope that there will be more of these amazing individuals who come forward, not necessarily to risk their lives but to stand with us against the insanity, against the hatred and violence.
Israel is a Jewish country, but we have always welcomed the non-Jews among us to join us in the most amazing miracle of our time — to build and defend the one Jewish country. You, our Christian friends all over the world, have become our partners. Let us pray that our neighbors can join us as well.
And one more thing. As the war in Ukraine continues, Ukrainian Jews will be joining us in Israel. Even as we fight terrorists, we are making room for these destitute refugees and are working hard to provide them with homes and a warm community environment. We are scrambling for funding to build pre-fab homes as quickly as possible and are hoping to welcome families into Judea and Samaria as well.
Think about it. We are living a miracle. The Land of Israel has come to life again. And even as our enemies still try to stop us, we know that we will prevail. Is there no greater statement of faith than to reach out to our Ukrainian brothers and sisters and welcome them in our midst? For we know that this is all part of the fulfillment of prophecy. The Jews have been scattered around the world, but they are now coming home. And they will settle on the mountains of Israel as well. I hope you will join me in helping them settle, in finding their home in the Biblical Heartland.