The murder of Ori Ansbacher — raped, tortured, mutilated and left in a Jerusalem forest — was so barbaric it almost echoed the story of the concubine in the Book of Judges.
Ori means “my light.” Her life was one of light and kindness and service, ended in a shroud of piercing darkness.
I couldn’t stop thinking of her final moments. The moment she was caught off guard. The moment her blood ran cold. The moment she understood this attacker was a demon of death. The moment she knew her fate was sealed. The moment she became like just another tree in a forest, violently cut down before her time.
And then there was the response to the bloodcurdling news — the usual disturbing photos of Palestinians celebrating, passing around candies and baklava. Gratefully, there were Palestinians who condemned this heinous act and even paid condolence calls to the Ori’s family. Of course, leftist progressives were simply silent, as though nothing had happened at all.
And there were the primal cries for justice and even revenge. Where are our Shimon and Levi who acted to protect the honor of their sister Dina? Where is Phineas’s spear? Where is David’s shield? Where are the powers that be that would demonstrate an immediate and radical response to so radical and violent an act?
Besides the instinctual desire to retaliate and create a sense of control over the situation, the Israeli response was motivated by a search for deterrence. Families are shaking for the safety of their vulnerable daughters and sisters.
Not that Israel uses the death penalty, but even when invoking the desire for it, people are wrestling with the understanding that it is not a deterrent. A terrorist who slaughtered a young Jewish girl with his bare hands and a knife, and as a consequence was killed at Israel’s hands, will become a Palestinian celebrity with a town square named for him.
Already, regardless of the punishment that awaits the terrorist, with this one brutal act he has guaranteed lifelong financial support for his family, thanks to the Palestinian Authority’s perverse, incentivized “pay for slay” program.
Before Ori’s murder, she had already in her young life managed to scatter beautiful seeds, her good deeds. She was young but she was wise.
As a hobby, she wrote poetry. One particular poem of hers that has been shared, now being called “Ori’s Poem,” includes this line: “Create for yourself a world of peace.” It can be read as a double entendre: a poem about her emotional state, but also about the Israeli reality.
This poem is becoming one of Ori’s legacies. She is planting seeds of peace with this poem.
I understand the emotional reactions and fantasies in the face of such horror, to exact justice and revenge against so evil a creature. Emotionally, I get it. What I don’t get is the Israeli hotel-like prison conditions, replete with dental care, university degrees, culinary abundance and more.
At the same time, I am grateful Israel is a society of law and order that acknowledges that full justice can never be meted out by man. That is not society’s role.
But finding deterrence — real deterrence — is.
While I obviously don’t endorse torture, this brutal murder must become a watershed. It must generate policies that will instill fear and cause a potential terrorist to stop and think twice before committing a terrorist act.
Jewish blood has become cheap these days in Israel. The recent list of beautiful lives cut short is getting longer and longer. A genuine policy of deterrence by the Israeli government must be put in place. Along with, somehow, simultaneously, finding a way to grow the seeds of peace that Ori Ansbacher already scattered in her life, and nurture them into a forest of harmony and healing.
Copyright Intermountain Jewish News