The arrests and confessions of several Jewish youth in the kidnapping and murder of an Arab teenager should make us all look in the mirror.
So, too, should the murder of two children by their Jewish father, as well as:
the murders of tens of women each year by their husbands or boyfriends;
stabbings at nightclubs;
rapes in junior high schools;
the trade in women;
the arrests and convictions of important politicians and servicemen for corruption, rape, bribery, deceit, etc;
There are, unfortunately, many issues in our highly imperfect country that need to be addressed. And if we have any dream of becoming a true Light Unto the Nations, then each area must be addressed in the most serious and sincere forums. Not to make a headline, not to get a photo op, but to truly make a difference. Someone must set a zero tolerance for these crimes, and put together a task force that will find root causes and make suggestions for action that will make a difference. And then, the hardest part those ideas must be implemented.
I have a memory from Torah class in elementary school. We learnt the commandment of appointing a police officer for every ten (people/ families). My thought was: why on earth would any society need so many cops? But now that I am an adult, with a dream that every police officer learn some Social Work, I look around at the graffiti, the drinking in the parks at night, the drivers who seem not to see the solid white lines, and I wish we had a cop for every ten families.
Not that every cop has to be a cop. If we, as parents, can teach our children true respect for the law, then perhaps we can count as the preventative police for some. But we are fighting an uphill battle, when the culture here (is it the Mediterranean climate? The Middle Eastern heat?) seems to think that laws are just vague guidelines, respect for others is only in certain situations, and “I” am always more important than “you” or “him.”
At the funeral for Gil-Ad Shaer, Eyal Ifrah and Naftali Fraenkel, as we waited unsuccessfully to board one of the buses to the cemetery, I found myself wishing I could stand up and shout: “Please get into one, long, snakelike line. People who came first should be at the front of the line, and if you came now, please go to the back of the line.” But I didn’t. Instead, after over an hour, I packed my kids back into the car and went home.
We are a wonderful nation, warm and loving. We have been massacred by ruthless enemies for hundreds of years; here in Israel, our neighbours train their children to kill us, our “peace partners'” educational TV programs educate their preschoolers to dream of the day that they can get a weapon and kill Jews. Thankfully, we are not in that league, and there is no reason to compare an individual act against by a Jew against an Arab to the war that the Arabs in and out of the green line have been waging against us for decades. We aren’t there, we aren’t even headed in that direction.
But, we are headed in a direction that gives way to murder. Our Knesset members yell at each other and call each other names. Our police officers and mental health professionals are not given the tools to vent their emotions, so that the people in their care become their victims. We tolerate the use of Holocaust imagery and language in everyday speech. Posters declaring any and all political issues as “something to go to war against,” all these and more remove any inhibition from the expression of violence. And when violence, even verbal, is condoned, it leads to more violence, and even murder.
We can and must use this murder of an Arab child -, an act that no one can accept as the product of Jewish upbringing – to remind ourselves that our goal as a society is to be a model of lawfulness. Not just in our dealings with minorities, though that too has a special commandment in our Torah. But also, in our day to day lives – how we wait for a bus, how we express disagreement, how we drive and park our cars.
This murder must make us all, each and every one of us, take a step back and think – does my behavior reflect a respect for law? Do I embody consideration? Am I kind? Thoughtful? Trustworthy? Honest?
These questions might not win us world opinion points. Too much of “the world” will never differentiate between individual Israeli crime and coordinated, organized Arab terror, just as they will not differentiate between Arabs targetting preschools and the IDF’s efforts to minimize loss of life. But for our own sakes, and to prevent this murder from becoming a trend-setter, we have to mend our ways, we have to improve our society.