There is a boiling rage in Israel. And no, I don’t mean Arab rage, so called ‘Palestinian’ Day(s) of Rage.
There is a white hot current of rage roiling through the Nation of Israel – Jewish rage.
Ignored by the world, unspoken by the Israeli people our rage screams:
How dare you say I do not deserve to live?!
How dare you attack mothers and fathers on the way home, in front of their children?!
How dare you kill babies in their cradles, stab toddlers on the street?!
How dare you throw missiles at our children?!
How dare you stab old women in the back?!
How dare you, you who call yourself civilized, support the people who commit these atrocities?!
How dare you pretend you do not see? See and lie about what you see?
How dare you say this Land is not ours?! God given, history given, war won many times over, we have earned this Land by custodianship and nurturing. We have given our blood, sweat and tears for our freedom in this Land. And we continue to do so.
Ours is a rage controlled and for good reason.
Rage is a very human reaction but it is also wrong. We are better than that. Our standards are different and this, I believe, is one of the reasons some people find Israel confusing. Why even Israelis sometimes find Israel confusing. What is accepted in others is inexcusable in us. Because of this, focus is often diverted to Israel’s small flaws rather than the enormous atrocities committed against us.
The Nation of Israel is “The Chosen People”. Israelis don’t normally, consciously think about this title but it is always there. That is what sets the standards for our society. In general, even those who say they do not identify with this and that they certainly don’t believe in God are motivated from within by the belief that we must uphold higher standards.
Although many have interpreted “The Chosen People” as an arrogant title signifying some sort of entitlement it really isn’t. What was the Nation of Israel chosen for? To be a light on to the Nations. That means that we must shine in the dark, be an example of what is right, moral and good.
It is not easy to see a light when there is light outside. The light, even when it is small, shines brighter when it is dark. Being a light when the world is so dark is very hard. It is a terrible burden to be moral, just and kind when terrible violence is directed at what is most precious to you. It is easier to rage.
There is a reason that in recent terror attacks, when the terrorists were captured alive, we have heard enraged Israelis screaming: “Why is he still alive?!”
The official policy is always to stop terrorists. Killing them is acceptable when there is no other way to stop them. Once they are stopped the terrorist must not be harmed. The legal restrictions come from moral restrictions, not the other way around. It is right to protect civilians, including killing their attackers if necessary. It is wrong to kill when it is not absolutely necessary.
Rejoicing in death is always wrong. Including at the death of an enemy. Relief yes, but not joy.
It is a natural fear-driven response to want to completely stomp out a perceived threat. When the enemy is a person attacking you with a knife on the street, it is an instinctual reaction to not just stop them but to tear them to pieces. Literally. Obliterate the threat.
There have been cases of violence against terrorists, after they were caught.
And every time there has been someone, sometimes civilians and sometimes police who put themselves between the enraged mob and the terrorist, to protect the terrorist, trying to stop the mob.
Because we don’t do things like that. Because it is wrong.
Can you imagine what courage that takes? Would you use your own body to shield a terrorist, someone who moments before tried to murder you and yours?
In actuality the people who have done this are protecting the mob, not the terrorist. Protecting the people from themselves, from doing something that is wrong. Putting a lid on rage is very difficult but living later with the knowledge of having committed an atrocity is worse.
This, I believe is why Israel’s media focused more on the accidental death of Habtom Zerhom than the soldier killed in the same attack, or any of the Israelis killed in following terror attacks. Habtom Zerhom was an Eritrean illegal migrant. During a terror attack in the Beersheba Central Bus Station he was mistaken for an accomplice to the terrorist and was shot multiple times. (Reports explain that some of the confusion was the result of him shouting Allahu Akbar and running towards the security guard when others had run away) The horror came when it became clear that after he was shot, Habtom Zerhom was beaten in such a way that it wasn’t clear if it was the bullets or the beating that ultimately caused his death (after investigation it was found that it was the bullets).
Israel’s self-chastisement for this horrible mistake was given greater weight than our sorrow at the deaths and injuries caused by the terrorists in that and following attacks. There is something morally problematic with the over-focus on the accidental death of Habtom Zerhom. On the other hand, while we cannot control their morals and values nor instill in them respect for the sanctity of life (ours and theirs) we can do the utmost to maintain our own decency.
And of course, while Israel was busy self-assessing her own mistakes, the world gleefully jumped on the tragedy of Habtom Zerhom to portray Israel as bad, racist and aggressive.
Lies. Damn lies. If reporters told the truth they would show Israel’s horror at the tragedy. They would explain that here too, like in other cases, there was someone who tried to protect the wounded Zerhom from the mob. They would interview the man and show his despair at failing. They would recognize the rage in people constantly under attack and proclaim how unusual it is that normally we succeed on keeping a lid on our rage.
There is no nation on earth like this nation.
The men, women and children of Israel are constantly under attack, battered by waves of hatred from every avenue. BDS campaigns, media distortions, hostile UN, attacks on our streets and over the internet… it hits us from all directions.
The attacks on what is most precious to us, our loved ones, our freedom and the utter denial of our right to life elicit fury. They also drive us to be better.
For the hatred directed at us, we find ways to love.
For the denial of our value, our right to exist, we discover ways to fix the world, cure disease, grow food where there is no water and clean water for those who need it in order to live. We innovate and develop technology that becomes integral to life around the world.
For the accusations that we are the cause of what is wrong in the world, we strive to fix wrongs created by others and even those caused by natural disasters. We have doctors that go to Africa and the Far East to repair cleft palates and heart defects in children and remove cataracts so the elderly can see again. We tend to the injuries of Syrians victimized by the civil war in their country (civilians and militants alike). We rescue people from earthquakes and tsunamis around the world…
Tiny Israel, with so few resources, steps in everywhere we can to help. Because it is right. Because that is what we do.
Rage runs through this country. I think most Israelis recognize that. We are hot tempered and passionate. A little too loud and very fast paced. It all comes from caring enormously.
It would behoove the world to recognize our rage, its root and most importantly – how we channel it.
We aren’t perfect but we try damn hard.