It seemed like every time I looked at Facebook this week, I saw another attack. In the last few days there have been a significant number of knife attacks in Jerusalem and in other places around the country (Tel Aviv, Afula, Kiryat Gat, Hebron, and others). There are a lot of people smarter and better informed than I am to answer the questions of: Why now? Is it because of the Temple Mount? Is it because of the settlements? How should Netanyahu be handling the situation?
I don’t have those answers. What I can do is share my thoughts on the situation as I see it and how it affects my day to day life.
I can honestly say that it’s scary. But I don’t want to live my life paralyzed in fear. I am, and will continue to be, cautious and aware of my surroundings. But in the same way that people don’t stop driving because of road rage or drive-by shootings, I’m going to go about my daily life. I was going to have some visitors from the US and I would have gone into the Old City with them if they had decided to come. In the end they canceled and I completely understand. Meanwhile, this week I’ve been hearing a lot of sirens and there’s a helicopter circling regularly.
When you hear the word “stabbing,” it’s hard to imagine what that actually means. We see it on TV and in the movies and in that imaginary world, it seems like a very survivable injury. But then I thought about the last time I cut my finger cutting vegetables. Sure. It’s a tiny thing in comparison. Then I tried to magnify the pain 100-fold or 1,000-fold. I read a short piece written by a knife attack survivor. She had been stabbed 13 times. Besides the pain, the most disturbing part of her account was her description of the attacker. What kind of dissociative state would you have to be in to plunge a knife into another human being 13 times?
Then there are the “rocks” being thrown at cars. What’s a “rock” anyhow? It’s not the rock that you send skipping across the water. Make a fist. It’s not a rock that size either. In some cases, “rocks” are cinder blocks, the kind that you build houses with. But not all rock-throwers are throwing cinder blocks; they’re heavy. “Rocks” are generally about the size of a beer bottle. Along with those rocks are actual glass bottles filled with gasoline and lit on fire. This week I saw a video of an acquaintance of mine minutes after rocks had been thrown at his car.
When this new wave of violence got started, our prime minister was in New York making a powerful speech in the UN and there didn’t really seem to be a policy in place. The IDF was trying to keep a lid on a simmering pot, not very successfully. And then, after a particularly bad day, the mayor of Jerusalem made a statement on the radio: People with gun licenses and training should start carrying their weapons.
Say what now?
You can read his statement again, I’ll wait. At first, I thought it was a mistake, but then it was reported in the English news and then it was backed up by the deputy minister of defense. With the wave of knife and other violence, those people with gun licenses and training should carry their weapons and consider it a form of reserve duty. (Nope, I’m not kidding: HERE, HERE, and HERE.)
To be fair, most men and many women serve in the military and have gun training. It’s also not very easy to get a gun license in Israel. On top of that, the number of Israel’s civilian gun accidents is quite low. Israel has not turned into a Wild West town with a bunch of trigger-happy vigilantes. I remember when a terrorist used a tractor to ram into bus in Jerusalem it was a quick-thinking, armed citizen (along with others) who shot the terrorist and saved lives. I’m sure there are other examples.
I titled this post “Bringing guns to a knife fight” in part for the shock value, but that is actually what’s going on here right now. The police and the army are not able to protect the citizens and we have to count on each other in these awful times. I’m disappointed in and angry at the government and their inability to protect citizens, but one thing I know for sure is that when Israel gets attacked, we all stand together.
P.S. I don’t want to post something about the media and the false picture they are painting outside of Israel, however, the “best” example is the BBC.
P.P.S . Things may get worse by the time I post this, but I want to leave you with a different image: As I write this, I have my door open so that I can hear the Greek music at the café across the street. A few minutes ago, I heard rumbling engines and horns honking. It was a motorcycle club on their Harleys flying Israeli flags and the honking was a show of support. That is Israel.