When I left my apartment the other morning there was a pile of dirty dishes in the kitchen sink. You might think this was because I was running late or because I’m lazy. I prefer to think of it as my part in the war effort. An unusual act of faith. Part of the “carry on as usual” philosophy.
I justify it (isn’t it strange how women always feel they need to apologize for a mess?) by something I read in Emily Amrousi’s column in Israel Hayom. Amrousi, who lives in the community of Talmon in the Benjamin region, noted that her neighbors had reverted to their operating procedure of the second intifada. This includes never leaving the house in the morning after having an argument with your spouse (in case something happens and you don’t get a chance to make up) and never letting those dishes mount up in the sink (in case those who come to inform the family of a terror attack find your home is a mess).
A friend told me she acted similarly during the intifada and post-Oslo wave of terrorism.
Even more chillingly, I have heard of families who split driving between their homes in Judea and Samaria into Jerusalem and back between different neighbors: The father of one family will drive with a neighbor’s wife, dividing their children between the two cars, so that if (Heaven forbid) there is a Palestinian roadside ambush, there is less chance of an entire family being wiped out.
Just the thought of people – yes, settlers are people too – feeling they need to plan like that is incredibly sad. But it is born of experience, and following the murders of Eitam and Naama Henkin on October 1, I don’t blame them for that feeling.
There are times when I hate being right, and this is one of them.
When the Henkins were killed some people had the temerity to point an accusing finger at their choice to live in Samaria, over the so-called Green Line. If you live in the West Bank you are putting your lives and your children’s in danger, they said.
Violence and terrorism might start in “the territories,” I frequently point out, but it rarely remains there.
US Secretary of State John Kerry said this week (with that long face of his completely straight) that a massive increase in settlements built by Israel in recent years has led to the “frustration” and “violence” now stoking its decades-old conflict with the Palestinians.
He was speaking on a day when three Jews were killed in Jerusalem – not because of the settlements, but because they were Jews. The two attacks in Ra’anana the same day were not because of Israeli building over the Green Line. They were because Israel exists.
The 13-year-old Jewish boy in critical condition after being attacked by Palestinians, one of them his age, in Jerusalem’s Pisgat Ze’ev neighborhood was not stabbed because the street on which he was riding his bike was paved post-1967. The attempt on his life was because he was a Jew, a bar-mitzva-age Jew.
The recent attacks in Tel Aviv, Petah Tikva, Afula and Kiryat Gat – some of them places Kerry probably could not pinpoint on a map – were not part of the “decades-old” conflict: They were part of a century-old attempt to prevent Jews from living in peace in the Holy Land.
These aren’t my dirty dishes we’re talking about. Attempts to justify or explain these terror attacks by Palestinian “frustration” is more wicked than foolish.
And in case you were going to go down the “it’s the lack of jobs” line, consider that the attack in Jerusalem’s Geula neighborhood (an ultra-Orthodox quarter so well within the city’s boundaries that its Jewish nature is uncontested even by ardent supporters of the Palestinians) was carried out by a Bezeq communications company technician using the company car as his primary weapon.
When a Palestinian woman shouting “Allahu akbar” tries to blow up a car bomb at an entrance to Jerusalem she’s screaming “This is a religious war” at the top of her voice.
If Kerry and his ilk choose to interpret that as “Down with the settlements,” they are encouraging more attacks, not calming the situation. And they are endangering the whole world, not just Israelis and Jews, wherever they choose to live.
We’ve been through worse, as Amrousi’s clean sink can pay silent witness.
That’s one of the disheartening aspects of this current wave of terror. (Strangely, that the situation could cause frustration and despair among Jewish Israelis doesn’t seem to occur to the outside world. Being the victims of a tsunami of terror is hard, and it’s made even harder when we’re told it’s our own fault.) Having lived in Jerusalem for decades, I can remember the knife attacks of the first intifada and the bus bombings and suicide attacks that followed the Oslo Accords and second intifada.
How could I ever forget them? I realize that “This too will pass”: “Gam zeh ya’avor,” as they say in Hebrew.
Sadly, it will likely return again in the future: Not because of Israeli “oppression”; because of Israel’s existence. Going on experience, it’s likely that a renewal of “the diplomatic process” (even its fervent supporters have stopped calling it “the peace process”) will result in an increase in Palestinian violence.
Where’s the hope? Not from the Arab Knesset members, the Palestinian Authority, the EU or US State Department. Hope comes from the uprising less reported: The brave act of Nazareth Mayor Ali Salam who shouted at MK Ayman Odeh that he was “ruining everything” gave me far greater reason to believe that the future can be better than any statement by a foreign leader (or the UN’s Ban Ki-moon) struggling desperately to find a moral equivalency between the Israeli boy nearly killed as he rode his bike and his wouldbe killers.
Israeli-Arab journalist Lucy Aharish, moved to tears, has also boldly spoken out, thanking Salam, and saying on a television show: “Even if the status quo at al-Aksa has been violated – which it hasn’t – does that make it legitimate for someone to kill someone else?” (I love Lucy!) Aharish signed on a petition by leading members of the Israeli-Arab community condemning terrorism and speaking of the need for coexistence.
What else prevents despair? The knowledge that despite the terrorism, Israel is still a good place to live. It’s the exception that proves the rule. An American friend notes that in the US people are scared of “being killed by some random dude with an AK-47 at college or a movie.” In Israel, it is usually safe to walk out alone at night.
Last week I checked the Facebook page of a Turkish friend after a pro-Kurdish peace rally was bombed in Ankara with a death toll of nearly 100 people. The fact that the bombing has been blamed by different parties on Islamic State and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (and even on a combination of the two) says a lot about the region.
For, no, the Palestinian issue is not the cause of the Middle East conflict; it is a reflection of it.
As I write these lines, Nazareth is gearing up for the fourth annual Makeathon@Nazareth, sponsored by Tsofen, an Arab-Jewish NGO that aims to promote the integration of members of Israel’s Arab community in the country’s hi-tech industry. American astronaut Buzz Aldrin, who walked on the moon in the summer of 1969, walked Jerusalem’s streets this week when the city hosted the 66th International Aeronautical Congress in Jerusalem.
Just imagine how far we could go together if the Palestinians were to lay down their arms instead of trying to erase Israel from the planet.
The Palestinian social media were full of incitement to violence, including videos on how to stab Jews; a Facebook-style “Like” sign holding a knife; lots of postings describing the “martyrs” as innocent Palestinians “executed by settlers”; and an Eyal Golan song of faith turned into a threatening fighting anthem by Hamas.
Israelis tackled The Situation with self-defense and first-aid training videos and a sense of humor.
Satire shows had a captive audience “You’re not going out tonight anyway,” as the wits at Gav Ha’uma put it on Saturday night (although many of my friends were at concerts and coffee shops).
The “weapons” with which ordinary Israelis have tackled knife-wielding Palestinian terrorists – an umbrella, a selfie stick and nunchucks – featured in many jokes.
The video of the off-duty border policewoman in Afula who didn’t lose her cool during a terror attack – keeping her Magnum ice cream in her hand next to her weapon as she confronted a female terrorist – became a hit among Israel’s detractors and supporters alike and gave birth to several spoofs.
“Be safe,” friends and family abroad keep urging me. Safe’s good, bored would be better, I reply.
And as for those dirty dishes, I wish you could see them and say to yourself, “How can she live like this?” and be thinking about the mess rather than the craziness.
There are worse things than dirty dishes, but this too shall firstname.lastname@example.org
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