School’s Out for Aviel

Three-year-old Aviel Atash was excited as he boarded the bus with his mother headed for his first day in school. Aviel never made it. A short distance from where he and his mom boarded the bus in downtown Beersheva, an ear-splitting explosion tore the vehicle to shreds. Within minutes, another bus was attacked by a suicide bomber. Total killed: 16. Total wounded: more than 80.

It was not until the next day that Aviel’s mother, Rachel, in the hospital with serious injuries, learned that her son was dead. The following day, the child’s father, grandfather, relatives, and friends carried his remains to the Beersheva cemetery.

We could recite many such stories. When a child’s life is snuffed out, the tragedy is immense.

Aviel’s story was repeated more than 400 times in Russia, where parents mourned their children murdered in the carefully planned Chechen terrorist attack on a school in Beslan in september. Hundreds more were injured.

A Russian pastor said the terrorists were affiliated with al-Qaeda, and they boasted that the operation was “one part” of the global Islamic war.

It is no secret that al-Qaeda and its cohorts intend to kill as many children as they can. The operation in Beslan was planned over many months, with explosives and weapons planted at the school while the building was undergoing repairs for the fall term.

It is well documented that international terrorists believe there are no noncombatants in their war with Israel, America, and the West. Every person is seen as a target; no one is a civilian.

When Saddam Hussein decided in 1988 to test his chemical weapons, he chose the Kurdish village of Halabja. The dictator was pleased to learn that his poison gas had killed more than 5,000 people, among them hundreds of small children, many still clutched in their mothers’ arms.

In the war between Iran and Iraq (1980–88), thousands of Iranian children were used in wave after wave of assaults on the Iraqis. Few of them survived the war, which was best described as a monument to futility and barbarism.

Add to these horrors the fact that Palestinian leaders have declared it noble to desire to die a shahid (martyr) for Allah and the Palestinian cause and have made that outrageous goal a central element in the education of their children. Their success can be seen in the number of scattered body parts of those who succumb to the deadly fantasy.

We submit these facts to illustrate the immense chasm between the worlds of Christianity, Judaism, and radical Islam. For Islamists, there is neither sanctity nor sanctuary for children anywhere in their jihadist worldview.

Consider the words of Jesus:

But Jesus said, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven.” But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were thrown into the sea (Mt. 19:14; Mk. 9:42).

Scripture says,

Behold, children are a heritage from the Lᴏʀᴅ, The fruit of the womb is a reward. Hear, O Israel: The Lᴏʀᴅ our God, the Lᴏʀᴅ is one! You shall love the Lᴏʀᴅ your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up (Ps. 127:3; Dt. 6:4–8).

Our Bible sets a high standard for our attitudes about children and our training and guidance of them. They are to be cherished as a grace gift from God; instructed diligently in the absolutes of God’s Word; and given, by example, admonition, education, and direction in becoming godly, productive adults who hand down what they have learned to the generation that will follow.

In a report by the American School Board Journal, 95 percent of school-based police officers say their schools are vulnerable to attack. Unfortunately, such attacks send a strong message, produce mass fear, alter the ways people conduct their lives, and dissipate confidence in government.

Recent reports that strangers have been seen photographing and ostensibly “casing” some American schools warn us to do everything possible to safeguard them.

We have received yet another lesson in understanding an enemy that does not value life. It is up to us, and to every public official, to see to it that there are no Aviel’s boarding buses headed toward an encounter with education that will never happen.

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