Why the Har Adar attack was so dramatic for those of us who live here

Har Adar, by far, was and still is the safest community I have ever lived in. With a nearly nonexistent crime rate, it is the closest thing in Israel to a gated community.

September 27, 2017 08:28
3 minute read.
Why the Har Adar attack was so dramatic for those of us who live here

Medics and people walk at the scene where a Palestinian gunman killed three Israelis guards and wounded a fourth in an attack in Har Adar before himself being shot dead, September 26, 2017.. (photo credit: REUTERS)


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Har Adar has been my home for almost two decades.

As a former Israeli diplomat, I visited dozens of communities worldwide. I also spent 17 years living in places across North America, including Brookline, Massachusetts, Beverly Hills, California, and Manhattan and Westchester County, New York.

Har Adar, by far, was and still is the safest community I have ever lived in. With a nearly nonexistent crime rate, it is the closest thing in Israel to a gated community, where entry points are strictly controlled.

Indeed, Tuesday’s terrorist attack, which claimed the lives of three young Israelis and severely injured another, is a dramatic event in the annals of our communal life.

It is dramatic for several reasons: First, there is its unprecedented nature. In its 31 years, Har Adar had never experienced such a bloody attack. Second, it has severely damaged the social and economic fabric of life on both sides of the fence. Understandably, Israel’s decision-makers will hesitate before reverting to normal routines. Add to that the unquestionably devastating economic impact of the attack on the Palestinians in the surrounding villages.

Third, the attack further highlights the ubiquity of the “trust” issue. Even the most open-minded and moderate Israeli will admit that since 1860, there has been an ongoing refusal to accept Israel’s right to exist as a national homeland for the Jewish people.

The “trust” conversation is a tough one, since it takes place within the realm of emotions. Whatever twisted personal motives the murderer might have had, the fact remains that he chose to pour out his wrath and frustration on Israelis. This serves as a painful reminder that the conflict is alive and kicking.

So, what will happen now? It is important to hold this discussion in the right historical context: Har Adar, founded on the foothills of the historic Radar Hill, is a living monument to the heroic and bloody battle for Israel’s independence and its struggle to exist.

In April 1948, the Palmah’s newly founded Harel Brigade, led by 25-year-old Yitzhak Rabin, made several attempts to conquer the hill. The infantry brigade, which lost a total of 438 men during the entire war, lost 15 of them right here on Radar Hill.

In 1967, on the third day of the Six Day War, the same Harel Brigade, now part of the Armored Corps, conquered Radar Hill as part of a larger battle plan to conquer the strategic site of Nebi Samuel.

Dozens of lives were lost during this battle. It is no wonder that Harel Brigade’s official monument was erected on top of this hill.

In Har Adar we are surrounded by constant reminders of the fragility of life in our region.

For example, residents pass by the entrance to the neighboring Kibbutz Ma’aleh Hahamisha (“The Ascent of the Five”) daily. In November 1937, five young Jews who had just arrived from Poland were brutally murdered by Arab villagers from Katanna, another neighboring Palestinian village, known for its hostility until this day. Three weeks later the kibbutz was established in their memory.

This is the answer to the question posed above: Life has its own inertia and energy. We have overcome larger obstacles. However painful and difficult to curb, terrorism does not pose an existential threat to our nation or communities.

Despite our hill’s bloody history, Har Adar is a flourishing and vibrant community.

We are surrounded by four Palestinian villages, from north to west, yet we have managed to develop a reasonably stable eco-system with our Palestinian neighbors that has withstood dramatic challenges, including the First and Second Intifadas. Whether we like it or not, these are our neighbors.

Har Adar is a microcosm encapsulating life along the Israeli-Palestinian divide, constantly finding sanity, stability and balancing mechanisms amid a bitterly violent conflict.

Ido Aharoni is a former consul- general in New York, a global distinguished professor at New York University’s School of International Relations and a member of APCO Worldwide’s International Advisory Council.

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