Norway Massacre

A Jewish Point of View by Moshe Katz

The Tragedy in Norway

During our recent Tour and Train session the news reached us of the massacre in Norway. One of our students here is actually from Norway and the news hit him hard. We have a branch of IKI in Norway, and I have conducted seminars there. No one expected such things to happen in peaceful Norway.

When I arrived in Norway for my first visit I was very surprised by the lack of security at the airport, and the lack of security in general, but, that is Norway. Norway is known for the tragic "Oslo Accords" (a suicide for Israel), and as a "peace maker", I recall thinking, "What can these people possibly understand about our lives, our country, and the terror that we face daily?"

Hugo, One of our instructors in Norway, wrote me about the recent massacre, where I believe 94 people were gunned down before the police arrived. He wondered what my thoughts were and what could have been done differently.

"I remember examples in the book you sent me (Israel, a Nation of Warriors) about non-armed Israelis storming attacking terrorists. Though do you think even Israeli kids could be capable of such heroism?

It's an incredible hard preparation of attitude though. I wonder what goes through the mind of such a hero on the arrival of this devil. In this case unless he was one of first in line to be shot, his greatest chance of surviving would probably be attempting to escape."

My answer can fill many pages, as in fact it did in my book "Israel, A Nation of Warriors".

The answer is both simple and yet complicated. Centuries of persecution have conditioned our attitude. For Norway this attack came as a shock, for us massacres are part of our history. As a child I could recite off the top of my head; Chmielnicki Massacres, the York Massacre, the Kishinev Massacre, the Hebron Massacre, The Spanish Inquisition, the Holocaust etc. We have learned the hard way that decisive action must be taken.

Our Krav Kids play a game called "Kill the Terrorist". In this game they set up the room as a school class room, one of the kids plays a terrorist who enters the room with a gun or a knife and the other kids all charge forward and subdue him.

Such an event took place at an Israeli high school in Jerusalem. The terrorist ended up attempting to flee the school. He was running for his life when the Israeli police intervened and rescued him from the students who were chasing him and beating him up.

What goes through ones' head? That the whole is greater than the individual. When Professor Librescu fought back at Virginia Tech and saved his students, when the Israeli Olympic wrestler blocked the door with his body so his fellow athletes could escape, when the yeshiva student blocked the door to the study hall to stop the terrorist, when Roei Klein jumped on a hand grenade to save his troops, it was Jewish history. It was the Talmud, "If not now, when?" It was Isaiah saying," Here I am, send me!"

One cannot teach this, one must live it to understand it. Come to Israel and you will understand. Stand on Mount Masada, walk through Yad va Shem, touch the stones of our Holy Temple, shake the hand of Israeli soldier and you will begin to understand.