Few juxtapositions are as jarring as Israel’s Remembrance Day immediately preceding Independence Day, back-to-back, in the springtime. But I found a same-day combination this week hard to handle. November 11, the date when the world remembers – or should remember – its dead from the First World War on, is known as Singles Day in China. It has become a day dedicated to discount online shopping.
As 2014 marks the centennial of the outbreak of “The Great War” – the war to end all wars – there were special ceremonies in several continents.
But since this is 2014, when the digital age meets the consumption obsession, Singles Day was also celebrated with a shopping frenzy.
Originally a form of counter celebration to the two-someness of Valentine’s Day, the Chinese online retail firm Alibaba adopted the date for incredible deals five years ago, and revenue from global consumers this year reportedly reached some $9 billion.
It is one of those anomalies that China is still Communist enough to severely restrict international Internet access for its own population but capitalist enough to want to benefit from the worldwide affinity for buying sprees.
Growing up in Britain, I was used to marking the moment of the armistice at 11 o’clock on the 11th of the 11th on what is colloquially known as Poppy Day. Nothing, however, prepared me for the power and poignancy of living in a country where we take memorial days personally.
When the sirens sound for silence – one minute in the evening, two minutes in the morning – Israel comes to a halt. Every year I light a candle and stand still, silently recalling the names and faces of friends and comrades, and worse – the children of friends, colleagues and neighbors.
I’m acutely aware that this year more than 70 names have been added to the list of the country’s dead in war and terror. This year, too, almost everyone in the country will have to deal with the instinct to rush for shelter when the siren is heard: The rockets, Iron Dome protection system notwithstanding, have left their mark, a scar on the collective psyche.
When I discovered that elsewhere countries mark Memorial Day with shopping, parties and picnics, I felt saddened rather than shocked, but the first time someone wished me a “Happy Memorial Day,” I pointed out the paradox, politely refraining from using the word “oxymoron” or just “moron” without any mitigating prefix.
I am not the shopping therapy type. Schlepping from store to store makes me tired and irritable. And, call me paranoid, but online purchases are even worse: I’d rather see the face of the person I give my credit card details to than drop them off somewhere in cyberspace.
I can, however, see the need for light relief. Particularly now.
Just as the government was reluctant this summer to declare Operation Protective Edge in Gaza a fullout war, it is similarly hesitant to admit that the latest wave of terror is a third intifada. Turning the operation into a war would have significant financial repercussions regarding compensation that the government is not willing to pay. Admitting that the vehicular attacks, stabbings, firebombings and rioting are part of a greater uprising could escalate the hostilities, in the opinion of some of the country’s leaders. The attacks are by individuals, the security establishment notes, and not the orchestrated effort of terror cells.
But that does not mean that it is not an intifada, in my opinion, just that the nature of the uprisings can change in the same way that no war is identical to the one that preceded it. We have to be prepared to meet the current and future threats, not the previous ones.
Part of the battle we need to fight is the delegitimization process.
On Sunday, the Facebook page of the far-left online +972 Magazine shared a story under the headline: “Did Israel just have its own Ferguson?” They wish.
The piece referred to the incident in the Arab town of Kafr Kana in which 22-year-old resident Kheir a-Din Hamdan was shot by police, seconds after he had tried to smash the windows of their van, apparently armed with a knife. An investigation is under way to discover whether, as eyewitnesses claim, the police were trigger happy and shot him as he walked away or whether he was shot as he moved toward another policeman whose shadow appears in some versions of the security video footage of the incident.
In either case, given the current wave of attacks, many of them targeting the police and army, it does not seem likely that Hamdan was thumping on the window to ask them the time.
The story fits in nicely with the way the Left likes to portray Israel.
Whatever happened in Kafr Kana, and I welcome the investigation, it must be considered within the context of the current hostilities. The low-tech battle launched by Palestinians, whether working on their own or with the guidance of larger organizations, is not for better garbage collection, street lighting or social acceptance. It is, as I have noted more than once before, part of a pattern of global jihad.
The attack on the Canadian Parliament last month, in which Cpl.
Nathan Cirillo was killed as he stood guard next to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, was not by a local man fed up with his poor social conditions.
It was carried out by a monster fed a diet of “jihad, jihad, jihad!” And it definitely was not the result of any perceived change in status on the Temple Mount, although it occurred on the same day as the first fatal attack on a Jerusalem Light Rail stop.
Within less than a month, Israel has suffered six fatalities in terror attacks and many other serious incidents, such as the shooting of Yehudah Glick and the near-lynch this week of a Jewish man traveling near the Arab city of Taiba. (He was saved by a local resident who is to be commended for his moral courage and bravery.) Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, still touted by most European and US leaders as a “peace partner,” has decided to cash in on the violence and encourage it for his own purposes: deflecting attention from troubles closer to home; detracting from the glory Hamas gained by its rocket war on Israel; and attempting to show that Israel can’t enforce law and order in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria and that the world would be better to hand them over to his control.
But like his predecessor Yasser Arafat, who died 10 years ago this week, Abbas is playing a dangerous double game: If he can really prevent violence, he should do it now; not incite it. Turning violence off and on, up and down, should not be used as an alternative to statesmanship and diplomacy.
In the meantime, I have a one free piece of advice that might help stem the current wave of terrorism: Israel should inform the Fatah and Hamas leadership that Israeli hospitals don’t have room to treat their loved ones as we have absurdly been doing for so long. We won’t have room until we know that we don’t need the hospital beds for victims of terror.
Former Hamas prime minister Ismail Haniyeh, whose daughter was treated last month and granddaughter last year, will have to find an alternative to the top-notch Tel Aviv medical center, and I don’t mean Jerusalem’s Augusta Victoria Hospital where his mother-in-law reportedly received treatment in June; Abbas’s wife, Amina, should not be welcomed for future treatment following the June operation on her knee; and the sister of senior Hamas official Moussa Abu Marzouk should find a hospital to treat her cancer that did not come under Hamas rocket fire a mere three months before she was admitted – and all this while their supporters around the globe call for a boycott of Israel.
Purveyors of terrorism should not benefit from medical tourism. Even in the strange world of November 2014.The writer is editor of
The International Jerusalem Post.[email protected]