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As an Israeli Hero Dies Saving a Stranger’s Life, Five Questions on Moral Clarity

What to make of Ari Fuld’s murder?

Liel Leibovitz
September 21, 2018
Photo courtesy Hillel Fuld
Ari Fuld.Photo courtesy Hillel Fuld
Photo courtesy Hillel Fuld
Ari Fuld.Photo courtesy Hillel Fuld

Last week, Ari Fuld was running some errands in the shops at the Gush Etzion Junction when a 17-year-old Palestinian terrorist named Khalil Jabarin approached him calmly and stabbed him in the back. Bleeding profusely, Fuld lost neither his cool nor his spirit: He got up, ignored his pain, and gave chase. Moments before Jabarin could stab another woman, a falafel shop owner named Hila Peretz, Fuld drew his personal firearm, took aim, and neutralized the terrorist. He collapsed a short while later, and was pronounced dead that afternoon in a Jerusalem hospital, leaving behind a wife and four children.

It is tempting, as it always is in the aftermath of a heartbreak, to resort to thunderous statements about the need for reconciliation or revenge or any other sentiment too ephemeral to do us any real good. Instead, having spent much of Yom Kippur thinking about Ari Fuld and his sacrifice, I offer five observations in an attempt to find larger meaning in this tragedy. Think of them as five tests to help deliver moral clarity where too little is to be found.

The Empathy Test: After news broke of Fuld’s murder, Daniel Solomon, a former editor for The Forward and a current senior associate for a progressive media strategy shop, had this to say: “I think it shows a kind of charmed, modern naivete that people who occupy the lands of others expect to walk around unmolested,” he wrote in a since-deleted tweet. “Hard to feel much sympathy when this happens to settlers. Sry.” Taken to task for his comments, Solomon issued a mea culpa of sorts, saying that he “shouldn’t have used this sad event as occasion to make a political argument.” The apology is worse than the original missive, and further proof that, for Solomon, Fuld’s death remains an abstraction, just another variable to plug into the Social Justice Warrior’s equation of guilt and culpability, a magical mathematical formula that will always, no matter the death toll, find the Jews on the indebted side of the equal sign. Solomon’s inability to feel any empathy for Fuld or his family isn’t his alone. It is the animating spirit of too much of the regressive left, which admits the humanity of the Palestinians alone and denies in Netanya the same principles it advocates in Nablus, like the right to walk around without fear of the gun, the bomb, or the knife. We are encouraged, even obligated, to have meaningful disagreements with fellow Jews who do not see eye to eye with us on the day’s weightiest issues. But Jews who fail to feel sorrow for a father dying to help a stranger live have placed themselves outside of our very big tent. No matter how enthusiastically these activists may try to appropriate Jewish ideas or values, the empathy test comes first, and anyone who fails it is worthy of nothing but our contempt. As we speak of the Wicked Son each Passover, “since he excluded himself from the collective, he denied the foundational principle of the Jewish faith.”

The Accountability Test: With her son comfortably recuperating in an Israeli hospital, Khalil Jabarin’s mother reminded anyone who would listen that she had alerted both Palestinian and Israeli authorities that her son may soon carry out an attack. Among the Israeli left, this was reason enough to call on the government to pardon the Jabarin family and forgo the usual protocol of demolishing the terrorist’s home. I’ve a better proposition: Mrs. Jabarin should be permitted to keep her home, but only if she agrees to forgo the $400 monthly payment she will soon begin receiving from the Palestinian Authority as part of its pay-for-slay program. If she is indeed a moral and conscientious person, if she is indeed horrified by her son’s monstrous attack, she should want not a penny of this blood money. It is time we started giving Palestinians the respect they deserve and hold them accountable to the same standards to which we hold ourselves, the standards of action. Refusing compensation for Fuld’s murder, or donating the money to his family, would go a long way towards proving that she does not wish to be affiliated with her son’s inhumanity.

The Accounting Test: The very same principle should also be applied to the Palestinian Authority itself. Whenever it cries out that the American administration’s decision to cut $25 million in aid would harm poor patients in hospitals and other truly needy folks, it should be reminded that it is always free to prioritize life over death and divert the hundreds of millions it pays to the murderers of Jews to more worthy causes. In 2017, for example, the PA reportedly spent $350 million on its pay-for-slay program, making it clear that it was not a viable political entity but a detestable death cult that should be handled accordingly.

The Good Guy Test: Anyone who takes pleasure in mocking the assertion that often the only thing that can stop a bad guy with a gun (or a knife, or a bomb) is a good guy with a bomb should watch this video. It shows Fuld, gravely wounded, doing what responsible gun owners are trained to do: Use their weapon to protect the innocent and thwart the wicked. You may still support gun control, but, if you’re honest, you’ll at least consider the position that gun ownership isn’t without its merits.

The Jerusalem Test: It is easy to rail at the Palestinian Authority, and blame its endless incitement and its financial incentives for Ari Fuld’s death. But the more painful truth is that Jerusalem is as much at fault here as Ramallah. Ari Fuld isn’t the first Israeli to die at the hands of a Palestinian terrorist, nor, sadly, will he be the last, in large part because of the Netanyahu government’s failure to apply useful deterrents that make it clear that recurring murderous rampages in its streets will not be tolerated. The Trump administration has taken real and concrete steps to let the PA know that there are consequences to its actions, from defunding UNRWA to shutting down the PLO’s diplomatic mission in Washington, D.C. Israel, sadly, lags behind, having passed—but not yet implemented—a law to freeze payments to the PA until the latter revokes its ghoulish payment plan to terrorists and their families. If it wants to be taken seriously—not only by its enemies and allies but, most importantly, by its own citizens—Netanyahu’s government must make it very clear that it would not tolerate even one more gruesome murder, taking any means at its disposal, from economic sanctions to military action, to hold accountable those who fanned the flames and fattened the bank accounts of killers.

May Ari Fuld’s memory be a blessing, and may his family know no more sorrow.


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Liel Leibovitz is editor-at-large for Tablet Magazine and a host of its weekly culture podcast Unorthodox and daily Talmud podcast Take One. He is the editor of Zionism: The Tablet Guide.

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