There are a lot of column inches devoted to settlements and to the right left divide in Israel but the issue at the heart of our existence isn’t settlements, politics, religion, water or land.
The issue that strikes at the Jewish soul is terror.
When Zionism triumphed and Israel was born we faced generations of terrorists fuelled with the fervour of revolutionary ideologies with nothing in common save hatred for Jews. From Pan Arabists to Marxists and onto Islamic Brotherhood murderers and Salafi Jihadi death dealers.
We Jews face terror from all of them and more.
And so it’s hardly surprising that there’s a 100 page long bill making its way through the Knesset. A bill that seeks to define terror and calls for precise punishments for specific acts. Flag waving for example carries a three year jail sentence in the Israel that will exist when this bill becomes law. I’m not sure what the mechanics will be that will enable the police to actually arrest thousands of Palestinians who en masse wave Hamas flags at rallies, or how many soldiers will have to risk their lives in order to pick them up. But it is likely to be enshrined in law.
Will we now be opening fire on Palestinian kids with stones in their hands?
Will the bodies of these children killed by Israeli bullets bear the caption “stones also kill”?
This bill represents an effort to pretend that we can legislate our way out of suffering terror attacks. Legalising the immoral in the hope of ending the killing of Israelis. It is doomed to failure. It ignores the obvious. Israel is occupying millions of people who hate us and are going to continue hating us. They will hate us if we carry on occupying them and they will hate us if we leave. Putting them all in prison for hating us will not make them like us more, it will not make them stop throwing stones upon release, it will not stop the terror.
And then the argument goes that if they are going to hate us anyway then why not come down on them as hard as possible?
Of course the answer is because Israel does not exist to make the lives of Palestinians harder, more difficult or more dangerous but in order to make the lives of Israelis easier, more peaceful and happier. After so many years of being shot, bombed, stabbed, killed with stones and beaten to death we’ve become more adept at worrying about terror and misery and threats than about joy, happiness, contentment and the strength and tolerance of Israeli society.
Somewhere along the line we removed from our leaders shoulders the responsibility to help us along the path to a better world and allowed them to forget that they aren’t in office to kill the people who hate us but to improve the lives of the people they serve and to strengthen the country they were elected to lead.
We can shoot stone throwers where they stand but it will not stop Palestinians from throwing stones. We can throw people in prison for waving flags but the symbols will still appear, we can arrest Palestinians, shoot them, hold them indefinitely without trial and rearrest hunger strikers all we like but if it doesn’t make Israel a better country to live in then there’s no point doing it.
While those who argue that terrorists need to see the inside of a prison cell or face the impact of our soldier’s bullets they forget the more important question:
Will any of this make Israelis lives better?
I suspect not.