Apparently, the word “restraint” means different things to different people.

To an American Secretary of State, usage of the word restraint is nothing more than a filler, like “you know” or “I mean”. Just as the current generation of Americans has illustrated its ineptitude when it comes to the English language with meaningless as well as unnecessary fillers, so too have various American Secretaries of State (as well as their superiors) shown their ineptitude at responding to a decades-long chain of events involving Palestinians murdering innocent Israelis, along with the response these murders elicit from Israeli bystanders and the Israeli army.

And so, rather than simply say “We deplore the loss of innocent lives”, American Secretaries of State must drive home the fact that they are mindless fools and resort to the above-mentioned meaningless filler: “We urge restraint on both sides”, they bleat. Gosh, even an “Um” or an “Uh” would be preferable. At east an “Um” or “Uh” would not show their ineptitude. Better yet, say nothing! Just don’t tell us to exercise restraint. It insults our mentschlechkeit!

Jews understand the word restraint totally differently. When it comes to restraint, Jews have shown that they come from a different planet than Secretaries of State. As I write this article, four days after arriving in Israel, I have come to the following conclusions when it comes restraint:

American Jews can be held responsible for showing too much restraint in their relationship to Israel because, by and large, they have abandoned Israel. American Jews are nowhere to be seen! Since arriving in Israel, I’ve spoken German to tourists on a number of occasions. (Angela Merkel, arguably Israel’s closest ally in Europe, does not bleat “restraint”.) I also had my picture taken with a Norwegian family on a street in Meah Shearim, of all places. As for American Jews? Except for a random group here and there, American Jews exercise far too much restraint!

Jews serving in the Israeli army exercise restraint. Had these same knife-brandishing Palestinians pulled off the same shtick in an Arab country, we would be witnessing a bloodbath that makes what’s going on in Syria look like play time in kindergarten. The hotel the Rebbetzin and I stayed at in Jerusalem employs Arabs. As we checked in, we were greeted by Mohammed. Yet, neither Mohammed nor I dared speak about the marauding murderers. Both he and I were exercising restraint. After all, isn’t it restraint that differentiates a human from a non-human?

The Israeli public exercises restraint. Few other democratic societies would tolerate a government and an army that show such restraint. But Israelis are much too busy living normal lives, boarding buses, frequenting restaurants and pushing into lines at supermarkets to hold demonstrations against a government that many feel is not doing nearly enough to answer the random stabbing from young Palestinians who should have been taken out back to the woodshed and horsewhipped. If you truly want to understand restraint, then compare the way Israeli youth are educated toward the Palestinians with the way Palestinian youth are educated toward the Israelis. As for the Israeli attitude toward its government, as well as the Israeli government’s attitude towards its people, it is no different than any “healthy” American-Jewish family. As much as they might drive each other crazy at times, when all is said and done they are still mishpocha.

Speaking of mishpocha,I look forward to seeing you upon my return. I can only hope that you miss me and the Rebbetzin as much as we miss you. For this, there can be no restraint.

L’hit’ra’ot, Rabbi