Yesterday I wrote an article about the depressing week it was. Bet El, the stabbing in Jerusalem and learning who the perpetrators of the church arson in the Galil were. This morning as I woke up came the terrible news of the arson attack on a Palestinian home by Jewish extremists. It really should not come as a surprise-that these “Tag Machir” attacks have been going on for a number of years and our vaunted security services seem unable to stop them. This mornings’ attack brought wall-to-wall condemnation from all our politicians, but I fear it will not mean much. Will all of the settlements in the West Bank be put in curfew while the army searches? Of course not. Will any of the religious or communal leaders who have taught those who have committed these terrible acts be jailed or even fired for incitement? Will we look into the mirror of our society and understand there is a rot growing there, that will not disappear?
Politicians cannot get away with provocations one day and condemnations the next. Politicians who provoke need be fired, as must teachers, Rabbis, Imans and all others.
35 years ago I spent a “summer vacation” doing reserve duty in Gaza. What I saw then convinced me that we could not remain an occupying power. Not because of what it did to the Palestinians, but what it was doing to our own soldiers. How they acted, what we did was not what I had come to expect a Jewish state and Jewish army would look like. I was afraid for the long term impact of our society, and it’s clear that my fears have been born out with time. Those of us sitting in Tel Aviv try to be as oblivious as possible to events a mere 40-50 miles from us. I told one friend in the park this morning about what happened and his reaction was to effectively put his hands on his ears and say I don’t want to hear.
I have long believed that peace is not something that we alone can bring about, and it may indeed be true that it is unattainable now or in the rest of my lifetime. However, that does not remove from us the responsibility to teach our children other moral values. To demand that all the children in the country (whether Haredi, National Religious, Secular or Arab) be taught that no ones’ beliefs is superior to another. That no person is worth more than the other. We are all free to believe what we like, and act within the law as we wish, but we are not free to think less of another because he or she does not share our religious, nationalist beliefs or our sexual orientation. Unless and until that becomes the first and foremost goal of our educational system the events of the last few days will continue to occur.
All of that does not take away from the fact that I hope we can find a way to end our national cancer that is the occupation.