I remember when I was living in Israel, perhaps right before, or maybe it was right after the beginning of the second intifada. I was in a taxi cab and the driver was talking about the political situation. Since often it seems that Israeli taxi drivers are in fact prophets in disguise, when they start sharing their mind, I pay attention. This one was commenting about a new government edict or political decision that he deemed a grave mistake. “Watch and see, before you know it, it will be Arabs on one side of the street, and Israelis on the other, shooting at each other. It will be like Bosnia.”
Who that driver was, I will never know. But his words, I shall never forget. How many times have they come to pass in the years since? Too many to count.
Tragically, too many.
Whenever I hear the shattering and terrifying news of a pigu’a or a terror attack in Israel, I cannot silence the sounds in my mind. The convoys of ambulances, shrieking in my ear, is immediate. I can never forget that sound. Living and working near and in the center of town in Jerusalem, where many of the bombs exploded, I usually knew one had just exploded. From the endless, wailing sirens.
How ironic that in the week we are poised to celebrate the holiday of Shavuot, the holiday when we the Jewish people became a nation, bringing the loftiness of Shabbat to the world, and codifying morality so as to foster the existence of a better world, a world where murder is wrong, the Muslim community is also poised to travel a holy month, the month of Ramadan, yet it has been commenced in bloodshed.
And not just any bloodshed. But bloodshed of the innocent. Again, another holiday — and yet by now all too knowingly, it is celebrated bloodshed.
As usual, a holiday is unfolding right now in the Islamic Arab community in Gaza and in the Palestinian ruled territories. Unlike Shavuot, our Jewish holiday whose centerpiece is literally the Ten Commandments, delineating the ten fundamental truths that must be the bedrock of any moral society, in sharp contrast marauding murderers are being trumpeted as heroes.
While we annually reenact standing at the bottom of a humble mountain in order to receive a legacy of timeless wisdom, to make the world good, these murderers and their ilk are likely dancing, handing out candy and sweets out to children, honking their victory. That’s the pattern. It’s a scene all too familiar, yet the depth of its depravity is jolting anew each time.
What’s the big shock? you say. I know. You’re right.
Just the other day, I clicked on a YouTube video of a Palestinian kindergarten graduation. Kindergarten. The school designed a program for these five year olds. Playing “kill the Jew,” replete with the details of a child playing the Jewish target, dressed in petite IDF regalia.
Then on the same day, I watched Ami Horowitz’s social experiment.
On the campus of Portland State University, he posed the following question to students:
“Can you help raise funds for American Friends of Hamas?”
He casually plugged his request with statements like “this is a fundraising operation against Israel, involving types of attacks like cafes, schools, hospitals . . . soft targets, civilian populations . . . we want to make them feel it . . . suicide bombs is all we’ve got . . . we are looking to destroy Israel . . . “ with a “thanks for your time” flourish following his little pitch.
The response? Bone chilling. “I like the sound of what you are doing” and “I’m totally against the Israeli genocide.” Etc.
I am shaking listening to these voices. Right now they are all mixed up together. An eerie cacophony. That prophet of doom, that taxi driver. These ignorant hateful college nitwits.
But mostly, the sounds of those sirens.
My profound condolences to the bereaved families. It’s just heartbreaking.
Copyright © 2016 by the Intermountain Jewish News