Because of the Storm

So many conflicting thoughts swirl around like the howling wind outside  as I try to process the latest horrors. It was almost too much to take in (see Romi Sussman’s amazing article) when I first heard how Dafna Meir was murdered in front of her children, inside her own house, that I almost just said okay and moved on…until I went to bed last night and began to think about the absolute awfulness of what went on, and the full scope of the tragedy of our loss as we learn more about the amazing person she was.

Part of the thoughts are about her murderer, may we find and bring justice to him. And I wonder whether he realizes how his actions have *hurt,* not helped his people, and if any of these attackers are really thinking about the future and the true consequences of their actions. My students define consequences as punishment, but I correct them and say that it is the results of one’s actions, the outcome of an action taken and what follows. If you don’t study for a test, you won’t do well. Is the bad grade a punishment or a result of your own action? If you misbehave in class and lose recess because the teacher needs to talk to you about your behavior, is it a punishment or the result of your own behavior?

The difference is about accepting responsibility. When we don’t think we deserve a punishment, it is usually because we think “we didn’t do anything” — which is sometimes precisely the problem, but we’ll get back to that. When we don’t fully think through “If I do this, then this will happen or that might happen,” we don’t see our own selves as being the cause of our misery. In this case, the ongoing terror attacks being perpetrated by the Arabs will, I think (as was proven correct today by the midday suspension of Arab workers) only come back to rain pain and difficulty on them. Although their intended targets are hurting, and yes, we are most definitely hurt and sad almost beyond tears, it is their lives that will become more difficult.

I am writing this after a whole day of processing, reading all of the sad and angry posts, as well as the confused ones. I also feel bad about our school janitor who was not allowed in to work today, or the thought that workers I know at Rami Levi HaGush may not be allowed to work there anymore. I also worry that by pushing them away we are only contributing to their hatred for us. I still believe that our best bet for the future is to really figure out how to get along, to find what we can do that DOES NOT INCLUDE MOVING OUT OF OUR COUNTRY to help improve their lives so that they *might* want to stop taking ours, and stop raising their next generation on formula made of hate and lies. Don’t they want to keep their jobs and improve their standards of living? It doesn’t seem so because the storm continues.

And as far as  “we didn’t do anything” syndrome…yes, sometimes it *is* the problem. If there are Arabs who do want their jobs, who do want to live and enjoy the higher standards of living that they are privy to when they get work permits or citizenship in Israel, where are they? Why aren’t they speaking up? I read one article today that was in response to a Jewish article about how the Koran seems to see Jews as pigs and apes. This article, by a respected Turkish scholar, took points from their religion about how Islam is meant to uphold the good being done in the world. Why can’t those who think this way do more to speak up and speak out against all the violence and horror that seems to come from their religion?

After all thoughts have settled, my first and most visceral reaction, written earlier today, was this:

Last night, we closed all our windows because my husband had heard that there was a dust storm coming. This morning, I drove my daughter (who had been home sick yesterday) to school, so that she wouldn’t have to stand out in the cold wind and dust a day after being sick. I lied to myself, saying that this was the reason. I drove her because right across from our house, a very short distance from her bus stop, Arab workers are building. They are on a major construction site with small, sharp tools and huge, dangerous bulldozers, which as we know, can be easily used as murder weapons. As I left the house with her, I wondered whether they would even be there, but they were. Why should this be shocking — to find people going about business as usual, coming to work and being allowed to handle dangerous objects? Because it’s not just a dust storm we are living in, but a storm of anger, accusations and murder.

Mothers are being killed in front of their children in their own homes, and just as we are having a funeral for a slain woman whose only crime (aside from medically caring for any and all who came into her hospital and praying for them) was living on “disputed territory,” yet another young woman (a pregnant woman!), was being attacked in her place of business.

When we made Aliyah, it was not our intention to antagonize anyone. We simply wanted a place we could raise our children and give them a good education, and live regular lives in a country that celebrates our religion. We even joked that moving to Efrat was like ‘settler lite,’ not really an area that would be considered by “real” settlers, those who want to live on a hilltop somewhere to reclaim it for Jews. That is their philosophy and I don’t judge them or say it’s right or wrong; I am just looking to live.

We wanted a place where it’s okay if we don’t lock the door when we are home, where we can send our children to the makolet (mini market) alone or to walk to wait at the bus stop once they are old enough.

But now these attackers are doing so much worse than biting the hand that feeds them; they are committing heinous acts in the name of rights for their people. What do they think will happen? Do they think we will consent to live like prisoners in our own town, locking our doors and driving our children to school? Instead, they will lose out. We will find others to do the construction work, to work at the telephone company, to drive our children’s buses to school. Apartheid state? They are asking for it. It hasn’t been, but don’t make me choose between closing my windows to the storm or being able to downgrade the threat. We will choose us over you, and you are the ones who will be sorry.

It’s five minutes to midnight, and it’s time to choose. You can save more than one innocent life. (HP 3, credit JK Rowling)

About the Author
Mori Sokal is a FIFTEEN year veteran of Aliyah, mother of three wonderful children (with her wonderful husband) and is an English teacher in both elementary and high school in the Gush Etzion-Jerusalem area. She has a Masters’ degree in teaching, is a copy editor, and has published articles in Building Blocks, the Jewish Press magazine.
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