I’m fairly certain that I know no-one who was on the flight to Bulgaria, no-one that was on the bus that was blown up by a terrorist or terrorists unknown, no-one who has been injured or killed in the latest atrocity to hit Israelis for precisely no crime at all, other than being Israelis.
And yet, the news of this attack caught me, as it probably did most Israelis, like a direct blow to the head. It’s part of the living experience in Israel. There is infighting, both political and religious; there is discord; there is backstabbing. When a tragedy such as this hits, however, there is unity. It may well be transient, but it is there. We all feel it, as one, as if each of us has been personally affected. We mourn as one.
I knew I wouldn’t get the call to join the ranks of paramedics heading to Burgas to assist the wounded, but I was proud of the fact that a mission such as this was not only contemplated, but was in action, equipped and on a plane within only hours of the bomb exploding and leaving carnage it its wake.
If only the politicians contemplated following the same thought process. “E’mor m’at va’asse harbe”, a quote attributed to Shammai in Pirkei Avot (Ethics of the Fathers, 1:14), “Speak little, act more,” in a liberally translated version. In English, I guess the equivalent phrase would be actions speak louder than words. Both the Prime Minister and Deputy Foreign Minister have been quoted laying the finger of blame directly in the direction of Iran, as well as threatening dire consequences.
Now, I may well be the only person who thinks so, but these sorts of speeches sound a little too much like the rhetoric emanating with frequent regularity from our friendly enemies, both near and far, who blame every misfortune to befall them on the local neighbourhood’s Zionist entity. It always sounds ridiculous when they say it, and equally it sounded ridiculous that the immediate sound bites used by our very own politicians are those of blame and the threat of retaliation.
Perhaps Magen David Adom, Zaka and the orange-bereted Home Front Command went to the school of Shammai. They heard the news, and with little fanfare got their teams together and headed to do what they do best. Unfortunately, they’re all too well experienced.
As for our politicians, well, perhaps they went to a different school. I know, I know that there is action, often behind the scenes, often unspoken, unseen, unheard. Diplomacy is a delicate business, covert operations, particularly overseas, even more so. However, throwing about accusations in a post-atrocity statement, whether these accusations be true or otherwise, just seems infantile and unnecessary.
Mr Netanyahu and Mr Ayalon, this is a time for action, not rhetoric. An expression of condolence and support as the wheels of that support were already grinding in motion, along with a promise of assistance and rescue as the wheels of that rescue were already lifting off the ground, would have done the trick just as well.
It’d make Shammai proud too.