No separation fence can contain the hatred that gushed out on Friday morning at Zion Square, be it concrete, barbed wire or steel. Dozens of teenage Jews attacked three teenage Arabs. This hatred was expressed in shouts of slurs and slogans not worth repeating. The pulses of the hateful rose as the hatred came out through kicks, punches, slaps and bashes. Even as one Arab teen lost consciousness, the Jewish youth did not stop their gymnastics of hatred. Kicks were directed at the victim’s legs, stomach, head and heart.
Reading about this attack online on Friday afternoon, I finally understood what baseless hatred looks like, for the attackers did not know their victims. These were two random groups from two peoples that don’t know how to talk to each other, because, as our leaders tell us, there is nobody to talk to. In this vacuum of silence, hatred grows and flourishes.
On Hillel Street, a block from Zion Square, a corrugated metal fence surrounds a deep hole into which the Museum of Tolerance is being poured. Behind the fence, machinery roars and whirrs. “Warning: The place is photographed by closed circuit TV,” reads a sign on the fence. Tolerance, it seems, is a dangerous business.
I already feel sorry for the future director of this museum. Will he or she show the museum’s future visitors films about Nazi storm troopers and Ku Klux Clan lynchings? Or will the director stick to local examples of intolerance? And if so, will Arabs and Jews get equal time and space? For the Intolerance wing, there will be no dearth of exhibition material.
I’m concerned about the Tolerance wing of the museum. How do you educate toward tolerance when two people do not speak each other’s language? Will the museum offer free spoken Arabic and Hebrew lessons 24/7? Will it place speaking Palestinians and Israelis around a table behind bulletproof glass? We, the simple citizens of Israel, need to see what tolerance looks like. What is its body language? What is its geography? What is the chemistry of tolerance? Can tolerance trump hatred? Is tolerance capable of filling the vacuum left by silence?
Let the word of tolerance go forth from Hillel Street. Let it seep all the way down to Zion Square. Take the Lord out of it. Just teach us how to live with our neighbors, before we end up killing each other.