The terror attacks of the past two weeks have rattled Israelis. For many of us, warning lights came on, reminding us of the large-scale attacks of the second intifada, with their regular protocol, forgotten by now, of calling acquaintances who may have been in the vicinity of the attack to make sure it had missed them. During World War II, the British government came up with the slogan: Keep calm and carry on. What Israelis need now is composure.
Terror must be fought, with anyone involved found and apprehended, but we must not forgo our daily routines and switch to autopilot as soon as there are a few horrific attacks. I hear suggestions of administrative detentions, home demolitions and the revocation of citizenship.
The homes of Eden Natan-Zada, the murderer in Shfaram; or Eliran Golan, who tried to murder lawmaker Issam Makhoul; or the murderer in Duma were not demolished, as this is never the case of Jewish perpetrators. It’s convenient to forget that when we raze the homes of uninvolved family members (for the murderers are already dead), we are saying that there is one law for Jews and another one for Arabs, and that we’ll harm people even if they are innocent.
Thus, without much thought, we move from law enforcement to a state of war. As soon as blood is shed, we seek to apply to Israeli citizens the terrible practices we apply in the territories. It’s doubtful there is a more dangerous way of thinking to drag us into civil war.
It’s easy to blame the media, which constantly shows the frightful images, stoking panic. But in practice, the problem isn’t with the media. Look at MK Miri Regev, who last week broke out in dance at the site of the Bnei Brak attack, exploiting shed blood for political purposes. Regev is a loyal soldier of Benjamin Netanyahu, who also rushed to convene a meeting to discuss whether these attacks can be used for toppling the government.
When Netanyahu talks about an “Islamist enemy” he wants us to view our neighbors, the pharmacists, doctors and policemen who risk their lives and, in this case, sacrificed one for us, as enemies. He says that we’re in a perennial war. He says that a government that depends on the United Arab List cannot “truly” fight; Do you recall how he termed the state budget? “An Abbas tax, a Hamas tax.” He expects us to forget how he vigorously wooed the very same United Arab List. The “Moloch” Netanyahu wants us to sacrifice Jewish-Arab coexistence in Israel on the altar of his return to power.
We will say a resounding “NO” to this veteran demon of Israeli politics, the person who launched his career by exploiting the spilled blood in the terror attacks of the 1990s, whose entire efforts were devoted to sow division and incite Israelis against each other. We will also say a resounding “YES” to our brethren, the Palestinian Israelis.
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The conflict is not one between Jews and Arabs, it’s between people who recognize the imperative of coexistence and people who believe that we can continue to live on our swords and blood. Indeed, in the first moments after an attack, fear and anger blind people; but we need to take a deep breath and remind ourselves that we’re not puppets on a string, dancing to a tune of hatred, and that we need to restore calm and carry on. There is no other way. Communal life is not one of many options, it’s the only way of living together here.