“Never again” what? Never again will Jews allow themselves to be led like sheep to the slaughter? Never again will Jews be surprised by depraved maniacs who want to kill them? Never again will Jews be unprepared to defend themselves, to fight for their own lives, and the lives of their children?
Well, here we go again. Israeli Jews did allow themselves to be led like sheep to the slaughter; they were surprised, and they were unprepared to fight.
“Hold on there! How dare you blame the victims!” Sorry, but we blame victims all the time, when they deserve to share the blame. Control your outrage for a minute, and think about this fairly common scenario. You see a story in the news that says a drunk driver crossed the center line, and ran head-on into another car, killing the young woman driving, and her two-year-old child. Who is to blame? The drunk driver, of course! Not the victims! How dare you blame the victims! But then you find out that the mother was texting on her phone at the time, and never saw the wrong-way driver coming, and took no evasive action. Also, the mother was not wearing a seatbelt, and the child was neither in a child seat nor wearing a seatbelt, but was jumping around on the back seat. Now who’s to blame? Can we agree that the drunk driver is primarily to blame, but the mother shares part of the blame, for failing to mitigate the harm to herself and her child?
So, who is to blame for the terrorist attack on Israeli kibbutzim? The terrorists, of course — primarily. But the Israelis who were completely unprepared to fight back must accept some blame, for forgetting about the slogan, “Never again.”
How did that happen? How did Israel go from a nation of lions to a nation of sheep, with neither guns, skill, or will to kill people trying to kill them? One of the underlying themes of “Never Again” (which originated in 1945) was the idea that if Jews had their own country, then “never again” would they be attacked by their next-door neighbors, as they were throughout Europe. Maybe once Israel was created in 1948, complacency set in, as people thought, “OK, now that we have our own country, we are safe.” We have fences, walls, observation posts, and a strong army, so we don’t need to take individual responsibility for our own safety. Clearly (and to many of us, predictably) that did not work out so well.
In his book, Fighting Terrorism: How Democracies Can Defeat Domestic and International Terrorism (1995), none other than Benjamin Netanyahu (of all people) wrote: “Restrict ownership of weapons. Tighten gun control, beginning with registry of weapons. Israeli law, for example, requires careful licensing of handguns and prohibits the ownership of more powerful weapons, yet gun ownership is widespread” (page 147). Maybe gun ownership was widespread in 1995, but in the ensuing years, Netanyahu’s careful licensing of handguns, and prohibition of rifles and submachine guns, effectively neutered a once-proud people. For fostering complacency and unreadiness, he must accept part of the blame.
Note that there were a few (regrettably, very few) Israelis who were prepared, and did fight back. And they won. The most famous, Inbal Rabin-Lieberman, is a 25-year-old woman who organized the defense of Kibbutz Nir-Am. Her twelve-member security team, armed with rifles, killed 25 terrorists over a period of three or four hours until the IDF arrived. (“When minutes count, the IDF is only hours away.”) There were zero, repeat, no, li’eppes casualties among the approximately 800 residents of Nir-Am. The fight-backers won, 25-0.
Wait a minute – what’s wrong with this picture? Twelve people with rifles to protect 800? Why weren’t all of the adults armed?
Like many (most) Americans, I was under the impression that the Israeli populace was armed, with Uzi submachine guns and Galil rifles, in accordance with the spirit of “Never again.” Wrong. Over the years, the Israeli government (and people) have become more “liberal” politically (ironically, meaning “more restrictive”). Now gun ownership in Israel is rare. Something like 2% of the population have permits to own guns, but only handguns – no Uzi or Galil or AR15 ownership permitted. Furthermore, they are permitted to possess only 50 rounds of ammunition at a time! For those readers who are not shooters, 50 rounds are barely enough for a short practice session. In other words, those few Israelis who get their government’s permission to own handguns are effectively prevented from developing any proficiency with them. Brilliant.
Good news! As a result of the terrorist attack, the Israeli government has decided to relax the restrictions, and permit the potential victims of terrorism to possess – are you ready? – 100 rounds of ammunition! Whoop-ti-do. These are unserious people, who do not take the concept of “Never again” seriously.
One report said that the procedures for handgun licenses will be eased, and that 8,000 people have applied for permits. Eight thousand? Out of seven million Jews? Is that a joke? Neither the government nor (apparently) the people have recalled the spirit of “Never again.” In a country surrounded by people openly proclaiming their desire to kill every Jew (and acting on it), every Israeli adult should be demanding the right to carry a handgun at all times, everywhere; and there should be one rifle for every adult in every home. If the government were serious about “Never again,” they would be requesting four or five million rifles from the US, and seven magazines and a thousand rounds for each rifle. Every kibbutz and every town would have a shooting range where people could practice.
Here’s the catch, though: just owning a gun is not enough. As the late Jeff Cooper wrote, “You are not ‘armed’ because you own a gun, any more than you are a ‘musician’ because you own a guitar. Of course, an armed populace (i.e., “militia”) needs to be trained in marksmanship and tactics (i.e., “well-regulated”), but even more important than that is mental conditioning, what Cooper called “Combat Mindset,” or “fighting spirit,” the readiness and willingness to fight. “Hell no, I won’t get in that railroad car.” “Hell, no, I won’t surrender.” Hell no, I won’t allow myself to be taken hostage.” The sheep person’s bleat is that if he resists, he will be killed. That excuse may have been valid for the Jews who allowed themselves to be herded into the railroad cars in Germany, thinking their lives would be spared, but now we know better. Now we know that if you don’t fight back, you certainly will be killed, but if you do fight back, you only probably will be killed. (And remember the 25-0 score of the Nir-Am kibbutzniks.) If you are going to die either way, you might as well take one or two of the terrorists with you.
Having a gun is a great morale-booster and force-multiplier, making it easier to decide to fight back, but not having a gun does not preclude Combat Mindset. If you know you are about to die, you can throw yourself at a terrorist and drive your thumbs into his eyes before he knows what is happening. You can hit him upside the head with a frying pan. You can stick a butter knife between his ribs. If your choice is to die curled up on the floor, begging “Please don’t cut my baby’s head off,” or die with your thumbs in a terrorist’s eye sockets, then for G_d’s sake, die fighting.
As we move through 2023 and into the next election cycle, The Prickly Pear will resume Take Action recommendations and information.