Aug 31, 2011

A Study in Contrasts

I cannot vouch for either of these two stories, but the message they convey is powerful.

Story #1

Salach Taomri was a heroic figure for the Palestinian world. He received his recognition before the Lebanon War–1982 when he managed several big terrorist attacks against the Israeli army.  There isn't one single Palestinian child that hasn't heard about Salach Taomri. By the time he turned twenty-four, his picture was hanging on the wall in almost every Palestinian household.

At the time that this story takes place Salach had already given up hope. He thinks, despairingly, that the Palestinians will never rule over the Israelis, never get even and never get their own Palestine. The only hope that he had left was that, if he fights, the Palestinians might get a tiny portion of land of Israel.  He was convicted for his terrorist attacks and became a prisoner in an Israeli jail where he stayed for many years. 

Salach Taomri says, " I was in solitary confinement, absolutely closed off and disconnected from the rest of the world. Only through the bars that divided me from the long hallway was I able to look out. In this hallway, for twenty-four hours a day walked an Israeli guard with his arms full of guns and ammunition. I called him to me, because I had noticed that he was eating a pita sandwich, with great gusto and relish."

"Are you Jewish?" I asked him. He shook his head yes, his mouth full with the pita. " If so, why are you eating Chametz on Pesach? Don't you know that Jews are forbidden to eat Chametz on this holiday?" The guard was astonished and shocked to hear these words coming from a top terrorist. There was a moment of silence and then he replied." I am not obligated to the wonders that happened to my people more than two thousand years ago. I am secular, I have nothing to do with that."

Salach Taomri continued "...I sat on my dirty mattress, absolutely in shock. I said to myself, " A nation that has no connection to their history and past, and is capable of publicly desecrating its own credibility and beliefs, is a nation that has cut their roots from the land. Therefore, we, the Palestinians can achieve our goals."

The next day, the guards allowed me to go to the regular prison room. I gathered together all the leaders of the Palestinian prisoners that were there. I told the story of what had happened to all those who knew my opinion that we had no chance to win the war against the Israeli's. I told them about the shocking event that I went through and my conclusions.

"We are changing our approach," I told everybody. "From this very day on, we are going down a new path, a new war. We want everything. We shall demand everything. Not just a little percentage of Israel, not just the little bones that they throw down to us when they feel like it. We want all of the Holy Land, because standing against us is a nation that is not connected to its past. We will fight against the Jews in Israel for amongst them there is no concern for their history. We are fighting against the Jews in Israel, because they don't care about their roots anymore. Since the Jewish people don't care about their religious laws and traditions, they will have no strong motivation to fight and to go to battle. Therefore, we are going to win."

Story #2

The story is told of Napoleon walking through the streets of Paris. As he passed by a shul, he heard the sound of people weeping inside. He turned to his assistant and asked, "What's going on in there?"

"Today is Tisha B'Av," came the reply, "and the Jews are mourning the loss of their Temple."

Napoleon looked toward the shul and said, "If the Jews are still crying after so many hundreds of years, then I am certain the Temple will one day be rebuilt!"

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