The minute I stepped out on the Tel Aviv boulevard I was struck by a feeling of unease. The young mother was holding a screaming child in her arms, futilely trying to calm him in a soothing voice. Usually such banal scenes are heartwarming. But not this time.
A thousand warning bells rang in my head. Why is the baby crying? Is it really because he is scared of the big black dog happily strolling toward him? Just this morning I heard a learned discussion on the radio against public apathy and in favor of compulsory reporting to the authorities of anything that looks suspicious and could develop into a tragedy.
And how can I know? The mother's hug suddenly looked too tight, bordering on choking, just like abuse. Maybe it is time to pick up the phone to Dr. Yitzhak Kadman, the director of the National Council for the Child? How would I feel if I saw staring at me from tomorrow's newspaper a picture of the baby, with his face blurred? The reporter will certainly know how to tell the story accompanied by the appropriate condemnation of everyone who passed mother and child on the boulevard at the time, but chose to ignore them.
But I continued on my way, wondering to myself whether the occupation had hardened my heart so much that I no longer even feel for the troubles of my own people. While I was still tormenting myself, something else to worry about popped up in front of me: an illegal Palestinian worker. Here on the bench, he clearly looked like an illegal worker who was not in the right place. A terrorist. True, he was speaking Ukrainian with his friend on the bench, but you never know.
Because I'm also supposed to report the illegal worker before I get home, so I can watch the special broadcast after the terror attack committed by the supposed plasterer who studied at some Ukrainian university. There is also a chance that some industrious reporter will find me and say, in front of the camera, that with a little bit of good citizenship I could have prevented the attack.
Ashamed and scared, I stared off at some distant object. Even there, off on the horizon, I found no peace. On the back of a truck passing by was a sign with a telephone number inviting people to call and say whether the driver was driving carefully. True, at that very moment the driver stopped before the crosswalk, as required by law, but how could I know what he might do next? After all, everyone knows that trucks are frequently involved in traffic accidents. Maybe this is the time to call, before it is too late?
But then I realized that because of the large numbers of rebukes I received from the media recently on my apathy, I now wanted to play God. In fact, more than that. After all, during God's term - and it does not matter from which community - all sorts of catastrophes took place that he did not bother to report.
"Society" is not guilty for everything, and the occupation is not responsible for everything.
The plague of pedophiles in Belgium is not blamed on the tensions between the Dutch and French speakers. Apathy is bad, but public hysteria that exempts the authorities from professional preparedness is also bad.
While I was still summing up these insights for myself, a young man went by wearing a faded T-shirt saying "Shit happens." Sometimes that is the entire sad story.
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