I have to confess to feeling an element of surprise at the amount of outrage surrounding the murder of Dafna Meir. I am not outraged. I am not surprised.
I am torn.
Torn between giving up entirely and admitting that this truly is our lot in life and arguing that it is all about the occupation. Torn between arguing that it doesn’t matter where we live, it doesn’t matter whether a house is built over an imaginary line in the sand and arguing precisely the opposite.
Dafna was a carer. You don’t need to have known her to see that. It stands out to anyone who reads the shortest obituary of her. A mother of four and foster mother to two more and a nurse to boot. This was a woman who died defending her children and who lived to help others.
Her only crime was being a Jew.
So no I’m not outraged. I’m not even surprised. Dafna was by no means the first of our number to fall and she won’t be the last. The day after her murder a pregnant woman was wounded in an attack nearby. Her crime? Who knows? Wrong place at the wrong time? The wrong address?
Only a couple of weeks ago a man opened fire in the middle of Tel Aviv. What was the crime of the dead and wounded? Wrong address? Wrong religion? Wrong place at the wrong time?
No I am not outraged. I am not even surprised. I am torn.
This doesn’t strike me as being another Intifada, but rather the new normal. I don’t believe (as the government suggests) that the PA in some way is responsible for this. It is just an outpouring of the hatred felt by the average Palestinian for the average Israeli. A hatred in evidence since before there was a state of Israel. And so I am torn, is it because of Israel that Jews are being murdered in such a fashion or is Israel the result of Jews being murdered in such a fashion?
Before there was a state of Israel Jews were murdered in the same way as they are now. Only then it was with impunity. In the Pale of Settlement, in the ghettos of Europe, in the Middle East. We didn’t have an army or an air force, we didn’t have sophisticated submarines or wily spies. We didn’t have a flag with a Star of David held high.
Even as I write these words Jewish warriors are out in the night searching for the killer of Dafna, searching for justice in a world devoid of it. They’ll be going house to house, the Shin Bet will be calling in their informants, the checkpoints will be that much more thorough. We will find him and he will be taken. Dead or alive.
But it won’t change a thing.
We’re Jews and this how we live. Whether you’re in a hypercacher in Paris, a pub in Tel Aviv, a Chabad House in Mumbai or a settlement in the West Bank someone out there wants to kill you. And if they want your death more than they want their own life they may well succeed.
Today in 1943, the first uprising against the Nazis in occupied Europe was under way. It wasn’t mounted by any of the millions of Russian Prisoners of War, it wasn’t mounted by any of the British backed resistance forces. It was being undertaken by brutalised, battered, starving young Jews in the Warsaw Ghetto.
Militarily speaking their gains were minimal. They were defeated as soon as the Nazis brought up sufficient forces. But that’s not the point. The point is, that while there were trained military men sitting in camps and cities around Europe doing nothing it was a bunch of starving, traumatised Jews who were the ones to show the way forward. It was our resolve and fighting spirit that was the first light to shine in a world of darkness.
And now we are a free people living in our own land. Our enemies can kill some of us, but they cannot destroy us. They can cause us pain, but they cannot beat us.
Dafna is dead and there will never be another person like her. But no, I am not outraged. I am not even surprised. I am stoic, I am a Jew. My determination has not wavered, my Zionism is intact. as is my commitment to my people.
Dafna is dead and there will never be another quite like her. But those who kill her and glory in her death are making a terrible mistake.
I look at my wife and daughter and wonder if perhaps it will be them one day, whether they are in a kosher deli in London or a pub in Tel Aviv or perhaps it will be them mourning me. But then I remember something else. I remember that I am a part of a great people, a member of the people of Israel, the chosen people. I am a Jew. As well as having enemies, I have brothers and sisters all around the world who would give anything to help me. I remember that my ancestors have risen up to destroy tyrants, it was my people who offered the world everything it holds dear, from relativity to the messiah.
And I am no longer torn.
Our enemies think that because we bicker and argue we are weak. But I know that it is because we can bicker and argue and still love one another that we are strong.
And I am no longer torn. I am proud.
Proud of Dafna and the life she lived. Proud to be a Jew. Proud of our accomplishments and of the country we have created. Dafna is dead but the Jewish people lives and will continue to live and thrive. We will honor her by doing so.
May her memory be a blessing.