Opinion |

Israel's New Gun Policy Is an Invitation to More Lynchings

It’s hard to believe that the Israeli right wants to adopt this sick collective obsession. Wasn’t importing Trumpism enough for you?

1.7450479
Zehava Galon
FILE PHOTO: A customer fires a Ruger SR-9 9mm handgun at the Rangemasters of Utah gun range in Springville, Utah, February 28, 2013.
FILE PHOTO: A customer fires a Ruger SR-9 9mm handgun at the Rangemasters of Utah gun range in Springville, Utah, February 28, 2013.Credit: Bloomberg
1.7450479
Zehava Galon

The first thing that stands out in “Who is America?,” Sacha Baron Cohen’s new political satire television series, is his burning belief in people’s stupidity. In the first episode Baron Cohen, sloppily disguised as an Israeli officer, sets out to convince Republican opinion makers and legislators to promote laws that would permit the sale of weapons to children and babies. He isn’t afraid that it’s absurd, he knows that you can always find some character who’ll agree to do it. The second thing that stands out in the series is how much confidence the American gun lobby has in the Israeli brand. A dubious honor.

This week we were informed that Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan has decided to allow almost anyone who has completed combat service to carry a weapon – over half a million people. As we know, there’s no crazy, irrational and dangerous idea for which you can’t find an Israeli politician who will claim that it’s precisely the remedy we need. For security, of course. For security.

Erdan apparently likes to hear his name attached to reports about weapons and security, and in that sense he’s no different from most of the cabinet ministers. But with all due respect to this public relations ploy, it’s unclear why Israel has decided to import from the United States - of all things - its embarrassing craziness when it comes to guns. In the first 24 days of 2018 there were 11 shooting incidents in U.S. schools.

This madness has roots in U.S. tradition and in the Constitution. But the powerful and relentless gun lobby is also responsible. It’s hard to believe that the Israeli right wants to adopt this sick collective obsession. Wasn’t importing Trumpism enough for you?

This must be said: At present there are hundreds of walking dead among us, most of them probably women and Arabs. Pushing tens of thousands of guns onto the streets won’t make the country safer. We should also mention what Erdan tends to forget: Bedouin civilian Yakub Abu al-Kiyan was killed by experienced policemen, not panicky civilians. What will probably happen is that these guns will cause domestic violence to become far more lethal, and in the case of a terror attack, we’ll get a lot of mistaken gunfire whose victims will be civilians, whose only crime was to go out into the street with a “Mizrahi” appearance (which is common to Jews and Arabs of Middle Eastern or North African origin).

All that has already happened. In the past three years soldiers fired at a Jew in Jerusalem thinking he was a terrorist; people beat to death a driver who due to a heart attack rammed into a restaurant with his car; a resident of Kafr Qasem was attacked with cudgels at the scene of a terror attack in Petah Tikva; and a resident of the Bedouin town of Rahat was attacked in Be’er Sheva.

Erdan’s decision is an invitation to further acts of lynching, as though we don’t have enough of them. We’ve also had more than enough random violence and murders of women. Between 2002 and 2013, 34 people were killed by security guards’ weapons. Following a battle of mine in the Knesset, it was decided in 2013 that the guards would no longer take their guns home with them. That year nobody was killed by a security guard’s weapon. So what did Erdan do? He overturned the decision.

Since we are no longer at the height of a so-called knife intifada, Erdan’s decision is surprising. Nor is it clear why he is so enthusiastic about admitting his failure to provide security for civilians, to the point where he’s ready to privatize the police force. We can only guess it’s related to the Israeli gun lobby. If Baron Cohen has taught us there’s no limit to human stupidity, the U.S. gun lobby teaches that there’s no limit to greed, either. We would do well to recalculate, before guns are offered to infants here, too.

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