The children of Rabbi Michael Mark, who was killed in a terrorist attack last week, at his funeral.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Anger. It’s one of the seven deadly sins. It can lead to high blood pressure, anxiety attacks and depression; it can result in a heart attack or stroke. It can drive your neighbors, your friends and your family away from you and turn you into a bitter, mean person, a social misfit. The Talmud goes so far as to say that a person with an abiding sense of anger is faithless and akin to an idolater.
Israeli society has more than its share of chronic, explosive anger. We see it every day on our roads, where furious drivers throw caution to the wind and recklessly use their 2,000-kg. car as a weapon against the guy who cut them off 10 kilometers earlier. We see it in the bank, the post office, wherever people wait in lines; the longer the line, the shorter the fuse. We see it in schools, where angry quarrels often lead to fistfights, and teachers must act as referees, and we see it in the Knesset – live and in color – when national debate can boil over into furious confrontations.
Yet as damaging and self-destructive as anger can be, it also has its positive side.
When manifested as righteous indignation, it not only is perfectly justifiable, it can be the key to curing a community’s ills and bringing the world to greater perfection. I venture to say that virtually every well-meaning revolution began with bursts of idealistic anger.
Moses’s anger at seeing the Israelites cruelly enslaved led to his bold activism and our eventual liberation; the American colonists’ fury at taxation without representation resulted in their fight for independence and their creation of a new and enlightened society.
Sometimes, the suppression of anger is a sign of moral weakness, while the capacity for anger is the gateway to justice, freedom and truth.
And so I submit to you that we in Israel are simply not angry enough; we are calm to a fault.
Events of the past weeks alone are indicators of our blithe nonchalance: A 13-year-old girl is brutally murdered in her bed; a devoted father of 10, a brilliant educator, and his family are shot on the road; an elderly woman is stabbed on the street; cafe patrons are butchered while sipping coffee, and what do we do? Sure, we shrink in horror at the barbarism of these Nazi-like perpetrators – and make no mistake, dear reader, Hamas and their supporters are no less than this generation’s Nazis – but we do not forcefully act.
We do not rise up en masse and demand change, retribution, justice.
And why not? Because, in plain language, we are just not angry enough.
Well, I am angry, very angry. At all the so-called civilized nations – led by the United States and England – which throw hundreds of millions of dollars at the terrorist Palestinian Authority, allowing the Palestinians to go on their merry murderous way, as they pitifully blame Israel for their misfortune instead of actually doing something productive with their lives.
I am angry at the press – including, dare I say, this very newspaper at times – for too frequently giving space to intelligence- insulting articles that claim we still have a “partner for peace.” And I am angry at our government, on both sides of the aisle, who talk a good game but rarely add bite to their bark, who – at this very moment – are contemplating yet another disastrous “exchange” deal, à la the Schalit fiasco, that will only mock our system of law and order, embolden the terrorists and cause untold more murders of the innocent. Why must we abandon all logic and principle? And why do we return terrorists’ bodies for jubilant funerals in their home villages? We should be burying them secretly in unmarked graves, to be handed over if and when the Palestinians make peace.
Why do we routinely give massive amounts of money to our nemesis and allow hundreds of trucks to daily deliver supplies of every kind to Gaza, which openly plots and plans our destruction? We should be proudly giving every Israeli terrorist victim’s family millions of shekels, taken from funds that otherwise would have gone to the Palestinians.
We should be blocking the crossings into Gaza with thousands of good citizens and proclaiming that we are done aiding and abetting the enemy.
But we don’t do it, because – despite all the deaths and trauma and tears and loss – we refuse to lose our collective temper.
Last week, I attended the Fourth of July Independence Day celebration at the American ambassador’s residence.
Among the speakers was Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. I believe his heart is in the right place, and, as always, he spoke brilliantly and emotionally. He mentioned the young girl, Hallel, and Sarona; he touched all the bases about the need to collectively combat terrorism and end hate speech and incitement.
He said all the right things; the only problem was that he said it too softly, too calmly; he was far too cool and collected. He should have screamed it at the top of his lungs; his uncontrollable rage at the obscenity of child-murder should have blasted into the crowd and turned the listening world on its ear. He should have dropped the diplomacy – if only for a moment – and let all the justified, pent-up anger of a fed-up nation fill the air. But it didn’t happen.
In a world that has, in many ways, gone mad, we simply are not mad enough. The writer is director of the Jewish Outreach Center of Ra’anana and a member of the Ra’anana City Council; email@example.com