Rabbi Aryeh Handler, dean of the Ramle Hesder Yeshiva that recently caught on film the Arab rock and firebomb attacks it suffers on a weekly basis, told Arutz Sheva about how students at the Torah-learning institute in central Israel cope with the terrorism.
The rabbi began by noting the new yeshiva, which has 30 students, cooperates with the city and neighborhood completely as it prepares its students for their upcoming enlistment in the IDF. The Arab attacks on the yeshiva are "background noise" to the study that is "what's really happening here."
"The background noise is somewhat connected to Ramadan," he said, noting the Muslim fast month that began last week. "Our neighbors have a custom of celebrating the night (when the fast ends) with fireworks, but on motzaei Shabbat (Saturday night) and Sunday it turns up and these fireworks, which can be considered like any other weapon, are fired into our facility. It's directed at people."
The rabbi recalled, "the first time was pretty unpleasant. I was there. Immediately after the incident I gathered everyone and we talked, we recalled the real reasons why we're here. It changed the feeling in the yeshiva and when it happened again on Sunday the perspective was different."
Rabbi Handler rejects the assertion that establishing a yeshiva in a neighborhood with many Arab residents in the mixed city was a "provocation."
"First, I don't need to ask permission to dwell on my land. The whole land of Israel is my land. I can't be considered a provocateur when I sit in the center of the country."
He added that the neighborhood is in fact Jewish, with 16 synagogues in the area, noting the it is the Arabs who "enter and buy handholds in the area in the method of an occupier."
Dealing with frustration
The rabbi further stated that his students do not show any hostile attitude toward the Arab residents, relating how an Arab girl fell from the third floor of a building a month ago and the students gave her first aid.
When asked how the students are able to deal with being confronted by Arab attackers trying to harm or even kill them, the rabbi said the students learn to deal with "frustration."
"When they see these things they have a desire to respond. The first step is dealing with facing the frustration, knowing where to direct the feelings and resources that frustration creates. The second step is to bring light into things, and this light tells us why we came here, what we want to do in this neighborhood and what we want to do with the Jews in the neighborhood."
He added that some of the assailants are familiar and "we let the police do the work. People identified faces in different ways in submitting complaints to the police, and I hope that the police will know to put their hands (on the attackers)."
While noting the police are the only source that can deal with the problem, he noted, "unfortunately in the first two days there was an ignoring of one sort or another of our calls, but after the video was spread and even was published with you on the Arutz Sheva site they arrived here and began to investigate."