Sunday, July 6, 2014

After the kidnapping—war

The story of the kidnapping and murder of three Jewish teenage boys is over. Their families now sit shiva—the Jewish week-long private mourning for a loved one who has died.

Arabs, meanwhile, riot—and fire rockets at Israel. The spark for this aggression was the murder of an Arab 16-year old---who, we now know from an autopsy, was still alive when he was set on fire. As soon as his murder was reported, rumours raged that the boy had been killed by Jews as a revenge for the murder of the Jewish boys. The mayor of Jerusalem (the murder took place in Arab Jerusalem) and the Prime Minister himself both immediately believed the rumours.

Were they correct to do that?

The Arab street didn’t wait to find out. Arab hate exploded.

Over the weekend (Friday night-Saturday night), riots raged across Jerusalem. Police shut down the Old City. They closed the gates of Sha’ar Yafo (Jaffa Gate). Sounds of fighting echoed intermittently through the Jewish Quarter until 3 am Shabbat morning.

As Arabs rioted, they attacked both Jews and other Arabs. Attacks against these other Arabs were often vicious. Some of these Arab-on-Arab attacks seemed frenzied.

In our city, the mayor (before the weekend began) sent out a community-wide email warning Jews not to go to surrounding Arab towns to shop. The email said that police had heard the words, ‘let’s lynch a Jew’, and were taking those words seriously. By Friday night, our city was locked. Police closed both our front and back entrances.

On Friday night, a large Arab mob came to our front entrance and threw stones and fire-bombs at police. At one point, the mob gathered and appeared to be preparing to rush the hand-full of armed police at the entrance gate. Abruptly, the mob changed its mind.

On Saturday night—after Shabbat, which ended here at 8:31 pm—word went out that another Arab mob was gathering at our city’s front entrance. The next thing we heard was that Jewish residents from our city had gone to the front gate to stand in support of the police.

Was this true? We couldn’t tell.

True or not, such a report suggests a sea-change in Jewish behaviour. Even if the reports are not true, the sea-change is: the very thought that Jews would show up to support local police on the front line is a new phenomenon. Usually, Jews leave the police to confront the Arabs alone.

There is a real feeling here that Benjamin Netanyahu’s government has begun to abandon those who live in Judea-Samaria. There is a growing belief that the IDF, Border Security and Regional Security forces may be reluctant to protect citizens of Judea-Samaria.

This belief is not new. It’s been building for years.

Now, with Arabs rioting with rage, we grow concerned. The last thing we want to see is our Security force physically afraid or politically unwilling to act.

After years of Arab hostility and government intransigence, Jews in Judea-Samaria are convinced that hesitation to protect Jews invites Arab aggression against Jews. We tend to see this confirmed each time our security forces fail to protect.

There is a growing belief here that if we don’t stand up for ourselves, the attacks will get worse. That may be why we hear that residents join police at the front line as they—the police—face Arab mobs. We may be preparing to fight for what we believe in.

There are almost 500,000 Jews in Judea-Samaria. Judea-Samaria is ancestral Jewish homeland. Jews who live here want to stay here.  Jews who live here say, this is our land.

We are, at least right now, in an undeclared war. That war comes to our cities, even to our own streets. That war threatens our peace and our security.

In a country this small, such a war can, ultimately, threaten our survival.

Those who seek our destruction attack us—just as our Redemption story predicts. Jerusalem itself is under attack—just as our Redemption story predicts.

Our enemies close in on us—just as our Redemption story predicts. Israel appears to be ‘on fire’—just as our Redemption story predicts.

Get the picture?

Is this the Threshold of Redemption—or just another ‘skirmish’ in the wars leading up to the Threshold?

You tell me.



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