Monday, August 03, 2015
A Missed Opportunity
It feels more than a little wrong to suggest the presence of an opportunity in the acts of terror I mentioned in yesterday's post. But there was... and, tragically, this opportunity was completely missed.
In the wake of these senseless, cowardly acts of violence, thousands gathered across Israel to protest the recent increase in incitement and ideologically-based attacks.
These demonstrations could - and should - have been a groundswell of national outrage meant to roundly denounce the tiny, lunatic-fringe at both ends of the religious and political spectrum, and to allow the Israeli mainstream, regardless of gender, creed, status or camp, to shout to the heavens that you do not have an imperative (nor the right) to attack and destroy those with whom you disagree!
But like the hypocritical travesty that is the annual Rabin memorial, unity and inclusion were the furthest things from the minds of the organizers of yesterday's rallies.
Had these organizers thought to extend a welcoming hand to the religious community and right wing political organizations - both of whom shared the secular left's sense of shock and outrage over these despicable acts, but lacked a large, well-organized forum to express their outrage - the entire country could have come together in a rare healing moment of unity and understanding.
The images from yesterday that never were will haunt us for years to come:
These rallies across Israel should have seen Hashomer Hatza'ir youth groups standing arm in arm with teens from Bnei Akiva and Ezra. Right wing 'settlers' from Israel's periphery and heartland should have been standing side-by-side with political lefties from the country's cosmopolitan center. National religious and haredi citizens should have been standing in solidarity beside secular and LGBT Israelis.
But none of that happened.
It didn't happen because the organizers of these rallies were more interested in seizing the opportunity to point an accusatory finger at their political opponents than in seizing the opportunity to recognize the shared sense of outrage and shame that knows no religious or political boundaries.
It is truly tragic to think that the deaths of a young woman at a Gay Pride parade and an infant in a politically motivated arson attack, might be seen as an opportunity. But they were... and the opportunity was completely missed.
The organizers and speakers at these demonstrations were so blinded by their disdain for what they see as their political and ideological enemies, that they couldn't perceive the tragic irony of allowing their baseless hatred to enlarge the yawning chasm between our country's disparate groups who, at long last, finally had a common cause and shared sense of outrage.
I didn't think it was possible to be more shaken, ashamed or saddened than I was by the stabbing attack at Jerusalem's Gay Pride parade and the arson attack in which an 18-month-old Palestinian infant was killed.
But as I contemplate the missed opportunity for national unity that could - and should - have been seized in the wake of these senseless tragedies, I seem to have discovered new depths of despair.
Sunday, August 02, 2015
Terrorism is Terrorism is Terrorism
While there is no universally agreed upon legal definition of 'terrorism', the following has been recognized and adopted by a large part of the civilized world:
"Criminal acts intended or calculated to provoke a state of terror in the general public, a group of persons or particular persons for political purposes are in any circumstance unjustifiable, whatever the considerations of a political, philosophical, ideological, racial, ethnic, religious or any other nature that may be invoked to justify them." [source]
With that firmly in mind, I would like to use this humble soapbox to state unequivocally that the two attacks this week - the arson attack which led death of an Arab child, as well as the stabbing attack at the Jerusalem Gay Pride Parade which led to the death of an Israeli high school student (not to mention the many others who were injured in these two incidents) - were acts of terrorism, pure and simple.
These terror attacks were every bit as heinous as any act of terror anywhere in the region or world, and the perpetrators of terror - any terror - should be caught, tried, and punished to the fullest extent of the law.
Sadly, in my humble opinion, the Israeli legal system does not (yet) have an adequate punishment for lethal acts of terror.
Prison terms, fines, destruction of houses... none of that is sufficient to send the clear and unambiguous message that those who feel they have the right to take a life in the name of ideology, should know that at the end of the full and thorough legal process, awaits the executioner.
There is no room whatsoever for discussion of right, left, religious, secular, gay, straight, Israeli or Palestinian in any of what I have written above. There is only the absolute sanctity of human life... and the rule of law which is meant to protect it.
To consider any other path is to begin the descent into the kind of chaos we are seeing all around us in the region today.