Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Musings about living in Israel October 2015

This latest terrorist wave is coinciding with the 20th anniversary of the assassination of Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Rabin. He was murdered on November 4, 1995 by a Jewish extremist. Rabin will certainly be memorialized next month, but he will also be cursed by some who blame him for the situation Israel is in now. 

Those who curse him are simply wrong. 

The Oslo Accords were a failure. No doubt. But they weren't Rabin's failure. Their methodology was flawed to begin with. International Relations experts have said that the implementation was too protracted which gave too much time for the entrenchment of naysayers. In addition, the Oslo Accords required too much Palestinian-Israeli interdependence, when was they needed was total separation. This separation would have been difficult, but necessary for two successful states. 

But he had the courage to try and probably would have made it right. Who knows? 


So here we are 20 years later with rocket attacks last summer and knife attacks this fall. When I went to the mall today, the security guard didn't just ask me if I was carrying a gun,  he added another element to his script. 

"Do you have a knife, Mrs?" 

I wanted to ask him if I should carry one, but I smiled, nodded no, and parked. 

After yesterday's attack in Jerusalem, I bought fruit from a vendor outside the doctor's office. He was arranging the bananas when a frequent customer told him about the killings. He said in Hebrew, "Us or Them?" The wording was so casual. It's like when I was living near Wrigley Field and I heard cheering from the stadium. Who hit a home run, "Us or Them?" When he received the answer he moaned and went on to decry the state of the country. I had to get his attention as he delved into the media pouring from his phone and asked, "Can I pay for my bananas?" He gave me a 25 cent discount. 


When a terrorist is shot, the Israeli media is using the tern "neutralized." I hate the coldness of the word. It lacks humility. It sounds like something out of a movie script or a line from Homeland. And although we live our lives on media and can watch these attacks on Facebook, "neutralize" somehow diminishes these events removing any semblance of humanity.


The other day an Israeli policewoman helped to subdue a terrorist, never dropping her Magnum ice cream bar. 

They are that good. The ice cream. 


Am I scared? I don't think something will actually happen to me. However, today I drove to the mall which is across the street, rather than walked like I usually do to try to lose some of the baby weight. Had I been by myself, I would have walked. But with my baby, no way. It's funny how different you are when you have children. When I was single and visiting, I rode the bus during the Second Intifada. Now, I won't walk across the street. Even getting the fruit yesterday I felt was a calculated risk. It's because it's not just about me anymore. 

Do I think the violence will end? Yes, absolutely. But it will also return again. It's not a matter of if it's a matter of when.

One of the reasons is the martyrdom mentality of the extremist Muslims. Alaa Abu Jamal yesterday killed and wounded two men before being shot. Ironically, he had been interviewed by an Israeli news site a year ago after a relative had perpetrated an ax attack murdering five as they prayed in a synagogue. He celebrated the deaths of the men as well as the martyrdom of his family members. How can you reason with someone who thinks their God wants them to be shot by police, and that is the best work that they can do in the name of their religion? 

But something he said during the interview was very telling. The interviewer asked him if he thought other Palestinians would commit acts similar his cousin's. He answered, "Only God knows. No one knows. Everyone is responsible for his own actions."

I never thought I would agree with a terrorist, but he's right. Everyone is responsible for his own actions. There's no historical, religious, or political justification for committing acts of terror. These are acts by bad men and women, not acts of God. 


When a Muslim commits a terrorist attack, he or she reportedly says Allahu Akbar, loosely translated to God is the greatest. I was thinking moderate Muslims could do a Public Service announcement, like the ones in the US with the rainbow that reads, "The More You Know" with the following, "God is Great. So are all of the people he creates. Don't be a martyr! Be a hero!" 

Leo Burnett has a branch in Jordan. Maybe I'll set up a meeting.

"I don't think the police should kill the attackers," I told a friend yesterday. "Being a prisoner is less prestigious than a martyr. If they survive it will be a deterrent."

"I think they should," he said. "Why should they be treated by our hospitals?

I wonder if there is insurance for terrorists for failed martyrdom. What is the deductible?


When I went to the mall this morning, I asked the pharmacist, who is Arab, if he'd be willing to take a faxed prescription because I had lost mine. He was really apologetic and said no, it was against the law. He told me the name of a Jewish pharmacist (he didn't say Jewish, I just knew by the name) who was old and "didn't give a f-ck" who would fill it. I told him I would just go back to the doctor, but I didn't really feel like being out and about right now because of the situation. 

He said looking downtrodden, "You're right. The traffic to Herzliya is brutal at this hour." 


I was angry at my Israeli husband for not calling me all day yesterday.

"I know you are cavalier about these things, but it upset me that you didn't call."

And I know what he was thinking, even though he hates when I say I know what he is thinking. What does calling you have anything to do with terrorist attacks?

"Okay," he said. "I'll call you more tomorrow."


When I lived here almost 20 years ago, I read a lot of Yehuda Amichai poems. 

"Mr. Amichai, would you change your famous poem the Diameter of a Bomb to the Range of a Rocket or a the Length of a Blade? Or would you consider adding more verses."

"No," he said. "The poem is fine as it is." 

"What Israeli poets should I be reading today?" I asked. 

"There are no Israeli poets today," he said. "They've all died or moved to Silicon Valley."


Twenty years on as Rabin is remembered, reviled, or ignored, any analysis of him is incomplete without acknowledging that at least he tried to make peace with the Palestinians. He was courageous. The current leadership has no desire for peace, no ideas, just pockets full of bandages of bullets, bombs, and Iron Domes.

My daughter jumped off a trampoline and sprained her ankle. Yes, she was bandaged and recovered. But she doesn't jump off trampolines anymore, although she probably could, get another bandage and be fine. Is the Zionist dream now simply to stop the bleeding rather than achieve peace? 

Don't be mad, but I'm going to quote President Obama from his 2013 speech in Jerusalem. 

First, peace is necessary.   I believe that.  I believe that peace is the only path to true security.   You have the opportunity to be the generation that permanently secures the Zionist dream, or you can face a growing challenge to its future.  Given the demographics west of the Jordan River, the only way for Israel to endure and thrive as a Jewish and democratic state is through the realization of an independent and viable Palestine.   That is true.
There are other factors involved.  Given the frustration in the international community about this conflict, Israel needs to reverse an undertow of isolation.  And given the march of technology, the only way to truly protect the Israeli people over the long term is through the absence of war.  Because no wall is high enough and no Iron Dome is strong enough or perfect enough to stop every enemy that is intent on doing so from inflicting harm.
You know he's right. Even if you don't like him, just admit it. It's okay. It will be between you and and me.
So who is going to have the courage to bring Israel out of war and into a new age? 

Who and where is she? 

1 comment:

Roni Hershkovitz said...

Thanks Sharna, beautifully written !
i could think of other statesmen who said similiar things and were better decision makers than Obama, but that is ofcourse to be debated...and neutralize doesn't mean neccessarily killing - it includes all actions that stops the terrorists from keep on killing. many of them as you know didn't die - but were neutralized.its not euphemism.