Staring Down Evil
eremy is a 21-year-old Israeli soldier who studied at
London with the intention of moving to Israel to work as a
in America. He's in Israel serving Nahal, a
support wing of the Israeli Defense Forces. And his
story is gripping, especially during this week of
Pesach, a festival of freedom, opportunity and rebirth.
In his e-mail letter, Jeremy said he felt relief because he had
On patrol last week, Jeremy, nine months into a 14-month
such an integral role in stopping a would-be bomber. He said
stint with Nahal, did what many soldiers do in defense of the
he felt consoled because “Yoni's soul should receive merit for
Jewish state: He killed a terrorist. In Israel, military service
the destruction of evil in his memory"
means the likelihood of one day having to shoot to kill.
At 9 p.m. on March 30, two riflemen, one wearing an IDF
Thank God, terrorists aren't running around the streets of
uniform and vest, breached the security zone buffering
America. Still, we need to be vigilant because we're vulnera-
Morag from Rafah. Guards spotted them crawling toward the
road linking Morag with other Gush Katif settlements. The
Jeremy's account is both chilling and
terrorist impersonating an IDF soldier was killed immediately.
uplifting. It's a story of courage and purpose.
The other terrorist was shot in the leg as he tried to flee. So
It affirms the struggle of sustaining a Jewish
he started to crawl toward Rafah, protected somewhat by
state in a region of 22 Arab states, the vast
bushes and sand dunes.
majority sworn enemies of Zionism.
At that point, Jeremy's tank was ordered to confront evil by
Jeremy shared his story in an e-mail letter
crossing the security fence to kill the terrorist. The tank crew
I received from a mutual acquaintance, busi-
dosed in quickly and from 50 meters away, fired its heaviest
nessman Harvey Tannenbaum of Jerusalem.
machine gun to cut down the target.
ROBERT A. Jeremy and I tried to hook up by phone ear-
Jeremy shared his experience so that he could bring Jews
lier this week, but at the agreed upon time
everywhere "one step closer to the events occurring in Israel
he had to report for emergency duty
and thereby strengthen our ties with the land
"Among a myriad of other emo-
and the struggles of our nation."
tions," Jeremy wrote on April 3, four days after the
For me, his experience reinforced the com-
terrorist shooting, "I felt relieved and consoled."
mitment of the Israeli army to repel invaders,
That's because the killing avenged the murder of
no matter where they try to strike.
Jeremy's friend Yoni Jesner, 19, the victim of a
In his letter, Jeremy reflected on God
Palestinian suicide bomber. The killing also averted
empowering the IDF to protect the right of
tragedy in Morag, a hamlet of Gush Katif, a Jewish
Israel to be free and fight terror. He recounted
settlement near the Canaanite town of Rafah in
how HaRav Yehuda Amital, the rosh yeshivah
southern Gaza. Morag, a military outpost that
(head of school) of Yeshivat Gush Etzion,
turned civilian in 1985, is home to 150 Jews.
described Israel: a state that is ours after we had
Gush Katif is one of 17 settlements that Israeli
nowhere to go, a state with an army after hav-
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon wants to uproot as part
ing no one to protect us, a state that tries to
of a unilateral withdrawal from
preserve and promote Jewish values after
the Gaza Strip.
those same values were mocked, spurned and
The 42-month-long intifida
almost wiped out.
waged by Palestinian terrorists
As .I read Jeremy's letter, I pondered one of
has left at lealst 957 Israelis and
the most basic of all Pesach messages: that we
foreigners dead and thousands
as a people must be on guard — always —
more physically maimed or emo-
against those who would threaten our Jewish
tionally scarred. Jeremy — sol-
diers don't use their last names
The Haggadah affirms how God's unfail-
in public — is a graduate of the
ing help has sustained us since the exodus
Yeshiva University High School
from Egypt more than 3,200 years ago.
Los Angeles. He enlisted in the
Oppressors have risen up throughout the
IDF to be part of a system,-he
ages yet God has always been there to give us
said, that "prevents people from
the faith and fortitude to confront adversity.
experiencing the same pain
I was intrigued by how Jeremy defined
through which I suffered by the
Kiddush HaShem, the sanctification of God's
loss of Yoni."
name. The sanctification is best exemplified
Yoni, 19, of Glasgow,
by the 1948 creation of the State of Israel
Scotland, was one of six people
after Hitler tried to destroy European Jewry.
killed when a Hamas-inspired suicide bomber blew himself
"Kiddush HaShem is not just about dying in the name of
up in Dan bus No. 4 in'Tel Aviv on Sept. 19. Yoni, who led
God or killing terrorists," Jeremy said, "although those are
Scotland's Zionist youth movement and Jewish youth coun-
two excellent examples.
cil, had gone to Israel to study at a Gush Etzion yeshivah.
"Especially as expressed through establishment and contin-
It's noteworthy that he was named after another brave Jew,
uous vitality of the State of Israel, it is about everyday life —
Yoni Netanyahu, killed leading the Entebbe rescue that saved
about living each day with an intense passion to serve God in
104 hijacked hostages on July 4, 1976.
any and every capacity"
"It was your love of Israel and Judaism that brought you
I found resonance in Jeremy's expression that God's will is
here to study and it is here you now rest," said Ari Jesner,
there for the taking in all of our actions, not only in those
eulogizing his younger brother Yoni. "It was your love of
few intense moments when the good that we do is clear and
mankind that was going to take you to medical school in
tangible — like stopping a terrorist. ❑