Unlike the United States, we do not have a Second Amendment, a right to bear arms. Gun ownership in Israel is a privilege that requires a lengthy application process, background check, signature of the family doctor, and proof of residency in Judea and Samaria. Every licensed firearm has been fired, its bullets identified and cataloged with the police so that the bullet at the scene of a shooting can be identified back to the weapon and the licensed owner. The rules for gun ownership are severe including the weapon being behind two locks, in a safe, when not on the body of the licensee. If the gun owner leaves the country, his gun needs to be in a licensed lock-up and not in the gun safe at home. A “lost weapon” is a serious offense in Israel. Israelis do not often lose their weapons.
Everyone’s friend and mine, Ari Fuld, was murdered with a knife to the back while standing in front of a grocery store, near my house. Ari was my karate teacher, a rabbi and “uber mensch”, a black belt in Tora Dojo karate, who carried his gun and was as lethal as any human being can be if attacked from the front. Ari was stabbed in the back while talking on his phone. He was able to chase his attacker and shoot him, before sitting down against the wall to die near the pizza parlor in the same shopping center.
The Jews who died in the attack on October 7th, inside the “Gaza envelope” were mostly not armed. Their location was not considered “dangerous” (not sure why), and they were mostly not eligible to carry weapons They viewed this need as going against their values. Israel increased the number of work permits of Gaza residents who came into Israel proper, a sign of good faith, from 10000 to almost 20000 per day in September. They employed Gaza Arabs in their homes, factories, stores, and farms. They considered these Gaza residents their friends not knowing that all of their possessions were being cataloged, their houses mapped, their schedules noted, and who had weapons and who didn’t. On October 7th, Hamas terrorists, including these “friends”, came through the openings that they made in the fence and knew exactly where to go and what to expect inside each house as they murdered the unarmed with abandon.
My friend and neighbor, Yishai Fleisher, also a podcaster and educator, says that there are two kinds of people in the Middle East: armed and unarmed. The unarmed never do well in the end. The Middle East is a dangerous neighborhood where only power is respected. Good will and promises between different tribal members don’t count for very much here. Friendships between “tribes” come from mutual needs and shared enemies. They are not fraternal. A sign of weakness is an opportunity to conquer and destroy the rival. There are no peace organizations on the other side.
Israel is not the USA with its 2nd amendment. Israel is instead in a dangerous neighborhood where power is respected, and weakness is lethal. I resisted having a weapon for 23 years because of the awesome responsibility and inconvenience. I will have to show a gun license to enter almost any public venue, store, theater, and restaurant. I will have to practice with live and expensive rounds frequently to keep “in shape” and to be a competent gun owner. While I pray that I never have to remove the gun from its holster outside of the practice range, I will be ready to defend someone else if the need arises.