It was, to say the least, not a typical eulogy.
When Fathi Hamad, a leader of the Hamas terrorist organization, spoke at a funeral in Gaza City, he had a message for those assembled: “O Muslims, wherever you find a Zionist Jew, you must kill him.”
The same day, a young Palestinian man scaled the security fence of an Israeli village in the West Bank and stabbed three people. One of his victims, a 31-year-old husband and father of two, Yotam Ovadia, died in the attack.
Is it a coincidence that these events occurred on the same day? Perhaps. Fathi Hamad’s words at that funeral might not have directly inspired a 17-year-old Palestinian to “find a Zionist Jew” and kill him. But they reflect a deeply entrenched hatred of Jews that flourishes in Palestinian culture – in the Palestinian educational system, in Palestinian media, and across Palestinian institutions.
The examples are numerous, and blatant: Palestinian hospitals and schools that are named after terrorists whose only claim to “fame” is murdering Israelis. Palestinian children’s TV shows that promote the idea that Jews are the enemy and encourage violence against Jews. Palestinian officials who cynically manipulate their people by publicly and viciously blaming Israel for all ills, real or imagined, that they suffer.
This hatred comes with a heavy cost, a cost paid in blood by people like Yotam Ovadia. He is the victim not just of his attacker, but of a pernicious ideology.
Today, I ask you to pray for the loved ones of Yotam Ovadia, particularly for his wife who mourns the loss of her beloved husband, and for his two children, who will grow up without a father. May almighty God – “a father to the fatherless, a defender of widows” (Psalm 68:5) – bless, comfort, and strengthen them. And may He bring us to the day when hateful incitement against Jews will be no more, and peace will reign over Israel – and the entire world.