Praying for the return of the missing teens in the Western Wall. June 15, 2014.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Even for Israel, there was a staggering number of events and activities taking place over the weekend. In one tiny country, thousands attended the Tel Aviv Gay Pride Parade; thousands more gathered in the city to break the record for the largest Shabbat table in the world; in Jerusalem hundreds participated in the Limmud FSU Global Leadership Summit and in the Masorti Women's Study Day; Israelis were glued to the World Cup coverage at pubs and in living rooms; the beaches were full, bikers went biking and hikers went hiking in the gorgeous late spring weather; and three teenage yeshiva students went missing, presumed kidnapped by a terror group.
As the rumors rampant on social media from early Friday gradually trickled down into the bare cold facts, the scene that followed was one we are all too familiar with. Nonstop TV and radio coverage, prayer sessions, a #bringourboysback hashtag campaign and the horrifying feeling that even though we had never heard of them five minutes before, three members of our family were in peril.
It's safe to assume that there was an abundance of children hugging at Friday night dinners around the country.
Social media was, as usual, full of punditry and comments that attempted to exploit the tragedy unfolding for ideological gain.
The Right, as did Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, blamed the recent Fatah-Hamas unity government for creating the atmosphere that enabled the kidnapping to take place. Others called for the immediate conquering of the Palestinian territories and full annexation.
The Left snickered at Netanyahu's attempt to paint the incident as being connected with the unity government, and pointed out that the PM in his next breath, stated that dozens of similar kidnapping attempts had been carried out in recent months, well before the unity government was announced. They used the kidnapping as one more leg of proof that the settlement enterprise must be stopped and Israel must withdraw from the territories.
When one can draw their diametrically opposed conclusions from analyzing the same set of circumstances, it doesn't mean that the both sides are wrong. It means you're in Israel where those conclusions are part of our fabric. The pain felt when a national catastrophe like this takes place almost always leads to a cementing of beliefs and hardening of views.
But it doesn't help in the efforts at solving the pressing issue at hand – the release of Eyal Yifrach, Naftali Fraenkel and Gil-Ad Shaer. It only clouds the atmosphere where only one thing is really clear.
While we embrace the trappings of our extraordinary normalcy and tout the vibrancy and diversity of the country, it's an illusion. The gay pride parades, the diverse expressions of Judaism and the amazing outdoor life simply mask the abnormality of Israel's continued undefined borders with the Palestinians.
Instead of spending a perfect weekend in exploring choice of a hundred different pursuits, we will keep repeating the gut-wrenching experience of witnessing innocent Israelis fall prey to cruel and ruthless enemies.
That, unfortunately, is our normal.