By Ira Sharkansky
Letter from Israel 

Stuck with unpleasant events

 


A single page in the weekend edition of Yedioth Aharonoth captures the essence of where we are. One article on the page is a rational assessment of recent violence, its decline, and concludes with the point that there is no solution, other than the ceasing of incitement among the Palestinians, which no Israeli should expect.

It was drafted before the weekend’s uptick in attacks, with two Israeli deaths in separate incidents in Judea and Samaria, three Palestinian attackers dead, and several Israelis injured. 

Without being sure, we can guess that heightened celebrations at the end of Ramadan have something to do with this spurt. For nearly a month now, Muslim families have been fasting from first light to last light, then feasting with their large families of aunts, uncles, and cousins. Muslim families are said to spend half their annual income on food and other expenses of the holy month. 

It’s not hard to imagine that during those long nightly meals, a common topic of conversation is the evil of the Jews. Along with incitement in schools and media, that of families, with relatives killed or being punished by the Jews, seems likely to contribute to enough hatred for a young cousin to take a knife from the kitchen, and go to his or her death while trying to kill a Jew.


The two Israeli deaths were especially dramatic. One was a 13-year-old girl of a religious family. Another was a well-known rabbi, the head of a yeshiva, and father of 10.

What Judea and Samaria extremists did may have infected cousins in Gaza. A missile landed at night near a kindergarten in Sderot. It was the first missile since the operation of 2014 to land in an urbanized area. The IDF response was to bomb several Hamas installations, also late at night, when there weren’t likely to be any casualties that would spur a serious escalation.

There was rioting at one of the crossings north of Jerusalem. Several police were injured, and a Palestinian died, apparently from the affects of tear gas.

Another item on the same page of Yedioth Aharonoth reflects the emotions in the Jewish sector, heightened among the religious nationalists who are prominent in Judea and Samaria settlements. It deals with the challenge from one of the settlers’ political leaders, asking the prime minister why he didn’t call a meeting of the inner cabinet to chart a course of defense after the killing of a young girl in the settlement of Kiryat Arba, like he did in response to a terror attack in an upscale neighborhood of Tel Aviv.


After the death of the young girl and the Yeshiva head, the prime minister did call a meeting of the cabinet.

Members of the extended family associated with the 17-year-old who died after killing a 13-year-old girl in Kiryat Arba lost their permits to enter Israel for work. Security personnel sealed the killer’s house in preparation for destroying it once all the court hurdles are cleared. The IDF closed off the area around Hebron, and for a while none will leave or enter. Soldiers have gone house to house looking for suspects. The cabinet voted to approve the construction of additional housing for both Arabs and Jews in East Jerusalem, and for Jews in Judea and Samaria settlements. 

Responses are called “mowing the lawn,” or “collective punishment,” depending on one’s political perspective. It lets the Palestinians know the cost of their mischief, without doing so much that might escalate into a wider conflict that would—if it occurred—also not bring the underlying conflict any closer to an end. 

Hopefully, the end of Ramadan will cool tempers, and we’ll revert to the situation of tense co-existence.

Sadly there is no end. Occasional violence, with more Palestinian than Israeli deaths, is part of life in this corner of the Middle East. Trying to end it once and for all times would be like trying to end traffic accidents. One can do some things to minimize the carnage, but that seems to be the limit learned after more than a century of motor vehicles, which comes after many more centuries of mishaps from horses.


Taking everything into consideration and looking at governmental statistics, it appears that Israel is a safer place than the United States or almost every country in Western Europe.

Also in the news is yet another call by the Quartet of US, EU, Russia, and the UN that Israel must stop building in its Judea and Samaria settlements. This proclamation calls on Palestinians to stop inciting for violence, so the worthies can claim to be evenhanded while they contribute nothing more than their moderate voices to a conflict that will not end any sooner than traffic accidents.

A moment for despair or the acceptance of what is inevitable?

Perhaps a bit of both, feeling sorry for the unfortunates who were in the wrong place at the wrong time, just as we should mourn those caught in traffic accidents not their fault. 

Comments welcome. Irashark@gmail.com.

 

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