Sunday, March 13, 2011

As tragedy strikes again...

I blogged on September 1st, 2010 about the tragic terrorist attack that took the lives of four people. Last night, as I turned on my computer after Shabbat, I went straight to the news, wanting to find out about Japan's quake/tsunami. However, I was shocked by another piece of news: another terrorist attack that took the lives of 5 Jews in the settlement of Itamar. (A family- the parents and their 3 children, including a 3 month old baby)

This news, just like the last terrorist attack, has once more shaken the nation. The particularly brutal way in which the family was murdered, stabbed to death while they were sleeping on Shabbat, throws us back in disgust and deepens our sadness at the loss.

However, last time tragedy struck, it was on the cusp of hope: it was the night before direct peace talks between Abbas and Bibi in Washington. We were offered some kind of glimmer of hope: maybe up to today our path has been categorized by murder, terrorism and occupation, but the path to the future can be paved with peace. This was September 1st, 2010. While I am usually hopeful when it comes to peace, even then I was skeptical about any peace talks moving forward. I hated feeling like such an pessimist, but after so many failed attempts I believed that neither Bibi nor Abbas had it in them to make the necessary concessions to bring peace. 6 months later, I was right. (As was about everyone) It's therefore not surprising that there was another terrorist attack. Sad and despairing... yes, but surprising.. no. As long as there is no lasting and true peace, there will be terrorism.

What is most interesting, is what comes out of tragedy. Today, in response to the killings, the government has approved 500 new homes in the West Bank. Apparently a tragic brutal death is a good enough reason to dictate our policy vis-a-vis building in the West Bank. Another response, bombarded through my facebook newsfeed has been pointing the finger at terrorism: this is the only problem: why can't the world see that? This article, published in Ynet, by Assaf Wohl, points the finger at global leftists that accuse Israel of being an apartheid or racist state. Wohl claims, you are either just idiots (well useful idiots, helping the case of crazy Islamic radicals) or antisemitic. He uses this attack to explain to the world that it is "them" (His "them" is a little sketchy as I think he means to write about a proposed "thousands of blood thirsty Arabs") that are the bad guys, we (Israel) do nothing. We, just as we have always been (yes, he relies heavily on the Holocaust here, even writing, "I have no intention to again march into the gas chambers...") are the victims. We are the butchered.

I'll agree to this much: terrorism is a problem in Israel. But it's not the only problem. And if it was, 500 new settlements would not make it go away. (I have a feeling that these 500 settlements were going to be built, it was simply a matter of timing of when to publicize the approval.) When something so terrible happens like this, the blame clearly falls on those that held the knife and murdered the innocents. Unfortunately though, their deaths are not simply deaths. This is political, and everyone is using it one way or another. Rightists are using it as a springboard to support the settler movement, extreme leftists celebrate it as a an action of 'freedom fighting' against the evil occupier. Others will point the finger at the Jews themselves: they shouldn't have been in occupied land in the first place. But nothing can justify murder.

At the end of the day, all I can do is step back into my position of an idealist. I can hope that one day we can create a peace that will provide self determination and stability to one nation, and that we can ensure safety and statehood for another nation, that has always felt oppressed. There will always be extremists, those on both sides of the spectrum that believe that murder and violence is a justified tool to bring about results. My hope is that through the majority we can bring peace and justice to a land that so badly needs it.

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