If last week was bad, this week was worse. Tuesday was a terrible day. A glance at Facebook told me that two nearly simultaneous attacks took place in Jerusalem and two stabbings in Ra’anana (a suburb of Tel Aviv). This is the age of instant images so there was almost immediate video and photos of the attacks. Most of it was too graphic for me to watch. Other days were not much better.
There is simply too much going on for me to process in any coherent way, but I would like to refer you to one article that analyzes the situation concisely and accurately. Yesterday’s op-ed in the Wall Street Journal.
For my part, I can share my thoughts as someone who lives in Jerusalem. I’m cautious. I don’t go out unnecessarily. However, I am not walking around in a paranoid frenzy. I see people out and about. They’re smiling. Traffic still backs up on a particular road in my neighborhood and people still get annoyed about it and honk their horns. Life is going on, just a bit more cautiously.
The problem with these attacks is that they are random. You never know who might attack or when something might happen. The sales of pepper spray are off the charts. Self-defense courses are springing open. Videos of what to do in case of a knife attack are available on the internet. I’ve taken a self-defense course (before I went to Thailand) and my study of Tai Chi, believe it or not, helps me to feel a little bit more secure.
At the same time we’re hearing news of terrible things going on, I’m also seeing news of friends getting married, getting engaged, having happy moments with their children, sharing good times with friends. People go out on purpose to show they are not afraid. Life is still precious and with glasses clinking, To Life!
The political stuff
Two political points – I won’t ramble on too much about this, but I think they are important.
If you see a headline that says “Man stabs several people in the street,” you might think that the guy probably had a psychotic break. If you see that headline a few more times and come to “Wave of stabbings occurring day after day,” you might start to wonder where the police are and what the heck is going on. It’s a crime wave and something needs to be done.
If the headline is then “Palestinian stabs Jew,” the first thought should not be “Oh, well, alright then, he’s probably enraged about the settlements/Temple Mount/occupation/etc.” If the stabbings in the earlier headline are troubling, the new designations should not change the shock and horror of the violence. (“Jew stabs Palestinian” is equally horrifying and also not excused by rage over the situation.)
The worst is “Israeli police kill man after attempted stabbing.” That is a headline with an agenda. It is a true headline, but fails to mention the part where a Palestinian was the one trying to stab the police officer. If the majority of people read only headlines, then Israel does indeed look like a violent police state. In the screen capture below, the reporter also said that the guy was unarmed, but in stills, it is very clear that he has a knife in his hand.
Point #1: Read the article. The headline is probably misleading.
You might have heard about the 13-year-old boy who was mentioned by Mahmoud Abbas as a child executed in cold blood by the Israelis while he was alive and well in an Israeli hospital. Besides the politics of that situation (we’d be here all day for that), I wonder why no one seems to be asking why a 13-year-old boy is stabbing another 13-year-old boy.
Where is the outcry about using this kid as a child soldier? Who put the knife in his hand? Is a 13-year-old legitimately enraged about the settlements/Temple Mount/occupation? And if he is brainwashed to hate Jews, isn’t that a form of emotional and psychological abuse? Who advocates for him? Where are his human rights?
This is one kid in one situation. I hope he is not a model for the next generation. Palestinian activists point their fingers at Israel, blame Israel for the situation and claim that Palestinian lives are miserable, but I wonder why these same activists don’t take a nuanced approach and start asking who puts knives into children’s hands, sends them out to shed blood and encourages them to risk being shot by Israeli police.
Point #2: The situation is complicated and there are no easy answers. Look at the big picture.
Let’s all have a Shabbat Shalom! We could really use it.