A vile terrorist opened fire on Jews coming out of a synagogue in a Jerusalem neighborhood after Friday night services on what also happened to be International Holocaust Remembrance Day, and in some parts of east Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza the response is to hand out candy, honk horns in joy and celebrate.
The reason for the celebration was the killing of seven Jews, or people the terrorist thought were Jews.
Had those handing out sweets waited another 24 hours for their sick celebration, they could have celebrated something else as well: that the terror attack was not uniting Israel in the way that this country knows how to unite in times of tragedy, but was instead highlighting the nation’s deep schisms.
The differences in this country are real. The debate over judicial reform is genuine, and true patriots are found on both sides of that debate. Tragedies, like the ones that happened Friday night, cannot paper over those differences. Nor should they be expected to do so.
There was nothing unseemly, therefore, about tens of thousands of protesters taking to the streets Saturday night around the country to protest the reform so soon after the terrorist attack. One thing is not connected to the other. One can feel horrible pain over the attack and still go out to protest what one feels is the wrong direction that the country is taking.
What was unseemly was not the demonstrations; what was unseemly – and which had to give those celebrating the death of Jews more reason to celebrate – was the finger-pointing that took place in front of the television cameras after the attack.
What was out of the norm was for National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir to use a post-Shabbat appearance before the press to blame Attorney-General Gali Baharav-Miara for not immediately approving his demand to seal the home of the terrorist who carried out Friday night’s atrocity, setting her up as the villain in this instance – as if she had immediately approved his request this would somehow be the elixir that will cure the country of terror.
What was improper was Yesh Atid MK Ram Ben Barak implying in a Channel 12 interview that had the government not spent so much time and energy on its judicial reform and instead dealt with security and the Palestinian issue, then perhaps this attack could have been prevented.
Both Ben-Gvir and Ben Barak were aiming their darts in the wrong direction; looking for the wrong culprit.
Now is not the time for the Jews to blame one another. The enemy is not within, but rather those on the other side so consumed by hate that an environment is created where a 13(!)-year-old boy attempts to murder passersby in the City of David.
There was a sick sense of déjà vu Saturday night, coming out of Shabbat and turning on the radio to hear about a massive attack the night before. The mind raced back 20 years to the worst days of the Second Intifada. Now, as then, there was a feeling of fierce fury and utter helplessness. Now, as then, there is no one magic balm that can be applied to tame that fury or cure that feeling of helplessness.
Now, as then, what should be expected is not the complete eradication of terror – because that expectation is sadly unrealistic and could lead to actions that might only exacerbate the situation. Instead, what is needed are measured steps of the kind that Israel has taken since even before its founding that has allowed the country to flourish even under the heavy cloud of terror.
Much is being said of the need for deterrence, and – indeed – deterrent steps are needed. Along with those deterrent steps, Israel must also radiate a sense that the terror will not chip away at the country’s resilience and resolve. That sense is not created when Israel’s enemies see that in the wake of a horrific terror attack, the Jews in power begin blaming one another.