The Enemy Also Works on the Sabbath

If I don’t hate you, does that mean you don’t hate me, either? I would that it were so simple. Unfortunately, it is not:

YEARS AGO, we took our then teenage daughter to an evening sponsored by the [Israeli] army, at which religious parents could ask questions about what the army would be like for their daughters. Some of the parents were downright hostile, clearly opposed to the prospect of their daughters joining the IDF. At one point, an obviously angry father stood up, turned to the base commander and asked (or more accurately hissed), “Do you make the girls work on Shabbat?”

The room was perfectly silent, for everyone knew the answer. No one moved. Even the base rabbi said nothing. He stood at the podium, leaned into the mike and, lost in thought, played with his beard.

Suddenly, one of the three soldiers who’d been brought to address the parents, a young woman with her uniform shirt buttoned up to her chin, her sleeves extending to her wrists and her armyissued skirt down to her ankles, looked the father right in the eye, and without being called on, said to him, “Of course we work on Shabbat.” And then, after a second’s pause, she added, “Gam ha’oyev oved beshabbat” – the enemy also works on Shabbat.

It was a game changer. “What?” she essentially asked. “You think we do this for fun? There are people out there trying to destroy us. Either we’re as serious about this conflict as they are, or they’re going to win.”

The author goes on:

Its tendency to gentility is part of what has made America great. But an unwillingness to call an “enemy” an enemy could lead to America’s demise. For Islam’s radical leaders tell us clearly what they seek: a world united under Islam, with America’s sacred freedoms eradicated as a new “morality” replaces them. What is much less clear is whether Americans are willing to fight – to die and to kill – to protect those freedoms.

Whether or not the Ground Zero mosque ultimately gets built may not matter nearly as much as whether or not Americans are willing to gird themselves for the battles that sadly lie ahead. We Israelis understand the fatigue that comes with war. We, like Americans, would much prefer a world in which we did not have mortal enemies. We, like Americans, would much prefer that our children went to college at 18, and not to years of military service. But we’ve learned that anything short of absolute clear-sightedness and honesty – coupled with extraordinary sacrifice – could destroy us.

Go read the whole article.