Terror. Looking us square in the face with the gleaming eyes of a jungle beast, savagely. They dare. They rip through the delicate fabric of our cultivated society like monsters tearing apart human lives with their bestial energy. Feasting on our pain, and our fear, as if it were the only element that could possibly satisfy their insane hunger.
If not restrained by the decency that is part and parcel of being created human, perhaps there should be fear of the law, of the consequences of brutal, reckless, evildoing. There is none.
Out here the only ones afraid are us. The only ones comfortable enough to live fearlessly in this region seems to be them. Arab women walk the streets of Judea and Samaria, often balancing baskets of bountiful produce on their heads, pridefully, as women should. Men ride their donkeys, and shepherds herd their sheep, without the slightest concern for their safety,. I have even witnessed children walking alongside the highways without a sideways or backward glance, how wonderful for them.
Over the course of the two decades that I have spent living here, a 5 minute car ride from last Thursday night’s atrocity, I have not yet witnessed Jewish men, women or children leisurely walking the roads between settlements, nor alongside the highways that connect them. True most are too busy to do so, but even on the rare Shabbat, when there is a desire or necessity to walk to a nearby settlement, it is only deemed safe to do so if one is properly armed.
In this skewed equation in which we are the ones who are meant to be calling the shots (this is our country, isn’t it?) we live in fear of their outbursts and indecencies. We are likened to parents who bow to their children’s tantrums, forever giving in for the sake of quiet. We have become the battered wife, paralyzed with fear, cowering, acquiescing.
There is comfort in recognizing our decency, in knowing our humanity, in realizing that the terror perpetrated against us demonstrates behavior that we ourselves would not even dare to consider. Solace comes as well in our ability to cry out to the Heavens, as we join together as one , with a desperate plea to return our boys to their homes, and in knowing that our cries are being heard. There, however, will be true satisfaction only once we begin to step into ourselves, instead of being afraid of our shadow. Perhaps relief will come, as well, when we begin to assert ourselves and our limits, no longer concerned with what the world thinks of our actions, exhibiting our intelligence and strength as we demonstrate that we are no longer willing to be brutalized. What will it take for us to begin to respect ourselves to the point where we too can hold out heads up high wherever, in this blessed country, we happen to find ourselves.