I see a vision of Israel’s future. That vision comes from the Prophet Yechezkel. It’s a vision that says,
“Behold, I [HaShem, G-d of Israel] take the Children of Israel from the nations to which they went [in exile], and I shall gather them from around and I shall bring them to their soil; and I shall make then into a single nation in the land upon Israel’s hills” (Yechezkel, 37: 21-22, ArtScroll translation, New York, 2012).
I can see this vision clearly. It’s as real to me as life itself.
I see this vision of Yechezkel every day--from my window. It lies before me brightly in the winter sunlight.
I live in Israel. I have been ‘gathered in’. Yechezkel’s prophecy has come true.
I see a second vision of Israel. This vision comes from the prophet Zechariah. It’s a vision of strife, pain, war and conflict. It comes from the Part of our Redemption Story where, in the days just before Redemption, we see--within a period of war—how Jew fights against Jew (Zechariah 14:14).
We are in that ‘period of war against Israel just before Redemption’. We see today how Jews have been accused of murdering Arabs in an Israeli-Arab village called, Duma. As a result of that accusation, I see Jews torturing Jews in a Jewish prison in Israel.
I see it clearly (Ido Ben Porat, “Cops, ISA [Internal Security Agency] publicly beat Duma suspect, says relative”, Arutz Sheva, December 3, 2015); Hezki Ezra, “Lawyers expose brutal torture against Duma suspects”, Arutz Sheva, December 17, 2015; Uzi Baruch, “Rights group demands Justice Ministry check illegal torture”, Arutz Sheva, December 17, 2015; Eliran Aharon, “Protesters demand Shin Bet stop abusing Jewish prisoners”, Arutz Sheva, December 19, 2015).
On July 31, 2015, an Arab house was fire-bombed by unknown arsonists in Duma. Three Arabs within that house were murdered in that fire. Just hours after the incident, Jewish officials accused ‘Jewish terrorists’ for that crime. They didn’t wait for an investigation. Jewish youth--some married, some minors--were ‘detained’ for the attack.
Imprisoned, several things happened. The religious rights of some detainees were denied to them (Ari Yashar, “Breaking their silence: Mothers of teen Duma suspects to protest”, Arutz Sheva, December 8, 2015). The police used false figures in their initial arrest warrants (Yoni kempinski, “[Israel’s Internal Security Minister] Erdan admits there's no evidence in Duma case”, Arutz Sheva, December 4, 2015). The police offered no evidence to indict them.
Yet, these detainees remain hidden in a Jewish prison. Some cannot see their lawyers. In a democracy, that should be a violation of a prisoner’s legal rights. Some, we have been told, suffer terribly from torture. Can a Jewish State allow that?
This is the vision of Zechariah. Is this what’s happening in Israel?
Through the lens of the vision of Zechariah, I see Jews within the Israeli government working extremely hard to prove to us that they have not tortured any Jews and that they have captured the true perpetrators of the Duma crime. But I also see Jewish officials presenting these detainees to us as guilty without trial, with no evidence offered. Can a Jewish Israel allow this?
Why should Duma make us remember the prophecies of our Tanach? The answer is simple: Israel’s Declaration of Independence declares that this Jewish State of Israel is to be “based on freedom, justice and peace as envisaged by the prophets of Israel“ [emphasis mine] (“Declaration of Establishment of State of Israel”, mfa.gov.il, May 14, 1948).
Duma returns us to Israel’s founding document. Duma returns us to our prophets—and to our sense of a Jewish justice as ‘visioned’ by those prophets. Duma reminds us of the ideals embedded in our Declaration of Independence.
This is why Duma is about more than a vision. The prophets referred to in our Declaration of independence spoke words of HaShem. It was He who empowered the prophets. It was He who gave us Jewish justice.
Duma is a test. The test is, how will we as a nation respond to the Duma case? Will Duma help us heal the soul of Knesset Yisroel (the national transcendent soul of Israel), which has been fractured by disunity? Or, will Duma make that fracture worse?
I don’t know the truth in this case. I don’t know if interrogators crossed a line into torture. I don’t know if the laws they used to justify their interrogation techniques are simply bad laws. I don’t know why some of the Jewish boys detained for this crime have been prohibited from speaking to their lawyers. I don’t know why some of these boys have had their religious rights stripped from them. I don’t know if a recent ‘film’ of a wedding really does show what we are told it shows (celebrating the murder of the Arab infant in the Duma arson).
As this case unfolds, we may never find the truth. But then, maybe this case isn't about truth.
Maybe, it’s about us. Maybe, it’s about how we work together to create a national unity regarding this case—or how we allow this case to fracture us.
We can create a national unity for this case. We can do that through justice. For example, we must demand justice in the form of due process for these detainees. We must demand justice through a trial in open court where nothing will be hidden. We must demand a full investigation into the treatment of these boys, to discover exactly what happened to them and when those things happened. We must demand to know what medical advice interrogators received regarding these boys—along with if, how and when that advice was followed by interrogators. Finally, we must ask, how does Jewish justice fit into this case?
Duma has happened for a reason. That reason is probably not simply ‘fact accumulation’ or 'evidence'.
HaShem watches us as we respond to Duma. He watches all of us.
May He bring our Redemption speedily in our time. G-d knows, we need Him.