To Newsday’s credit, their article about the Jerusalem shooting (“Five Murdered at Morning Prayers”) was much better than most. It humanized Rabbi Mosheh Twersky (z”l), speaking of his connections to Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik (z”l) and of his love for Torah. It also mentioned the strong condemnation of the attack from the Obama administration and its praise from Hamas. However, one thing that surprised me was a bullet point at the top of the second page, stating Israel vows to retaliate for deaths of the ‘innocent.’ Innocent in quotation marks? The implication appears to be that these rabbis and the Druze policeman were not innocent, or perhaps the authors of the article are asserting that this event was (as Abbas stated) a result of the “provocation” of the IDFs action in blocking Muslims from ascending the Temple Mount. I hope this is not the case, for if it is then the authors are sorely mistaken.
As I learned yesterday, this synagogue was specifically targeted because it was Haredi (ultra-orthodox). Haredim do not serve in the Israeli army and they do not carry guns with them to worship, as the modern orthodox do. They also tend not to be Zionist, or at least political Zionists. The two brothers who orchestrated the attack knew that they could not target a right-wing, Zionist synagogue because the worshipers carry guns and they would have been shot dead on the spot.* The fact that they targeted an ultra-orthodox synagogue illustrates that they were not going after Zionists or the people who are calling for a return to Jewish control of the Temple Mount. Rather, they were going after whichever Jews were vulnerable enough against whom to launch a successful attack. That is why I compared the perpetrators to Amalek because the nation of Amalek did the exact same thing against the Israelites: attacking the weak and the vulnerable.
I hope that Newsday recognizes this mistake. To write ‘innocent’ implies that the victims were not innocent, which is an implication Newsday should NOT be making. This was not an attack against soldiers-rather it was an attack against innocent civilians who have immigrated to the land of Israel to make it their home. I hope Newsday is more careful with its use of punctuation in the future.
*I learned this from Rabbi Art Vernon of Congregation Shaaray Shalom in West Hempstead who has family in Har Nof, where the shooting occurred.