Crimes and Punishments or We Need Brave Leaders

Is there a way to turn back the clock?  Following the kidnapping and subsequent murder of the three Israeli youth last June I wrote an essay proposing to regard the killing as an atrocious crime. I feared that treating it as a national tragedy would lead to another war, it did.

Today, with yet another horrible murder, more than ever, we desperately need  sane and brave leaders on both sides. It was done before,  Menachem Begin and Anwar Sadat proclaimed:  “Now it is time for all of us to show civil courage, in order to proclaim to our people and to others: no more war, no more bloodshed, no more bereavement, peace unto you” .. “Let there be no war or bloodshed between Arabs and Israelis. Let there be no more suffering or denial of rights. Let there be no more despair or loss of faith. Let no mother lament the loss of her child:” The  Camp David Accords on March 26, 1979.

Here is my essay “A National Or A Personal Tragedy?”  from last June:

I shall start from the end:  after 18 days of extensive search for 3 missing  Israeli teenagers, their bodies were found not far from the place where they were abducted. They were kidnapped by Hamas fighters in the occupied territories.

As we learn about the events that led to the tragic end, it transpires that their dramatic quality surpasses any  fictional story. Thus no wonder that the Israeli public became obsessed  not only with the fate of the three missing boys, but also with every detail of the abduction. Naturally, each aspect of the story was also used as an opportunity to promote political views by all sides.

First, the fact that the boys were catching a ride late at night started a debate about the practice of hitchhiking in the occupied territories. While the settlers argue that it is their home and as  public transportation is sparse, the kids have no choice but catching rides, the members of the left argue that even the army does not allow soldiers to catch rides because of the danger of kidnapping.

Another cause for debate was the 911 emergency call  (100 in Israel) that one of the boys made after they had been kidnapped. We heard from the media that he whispered “I was kidnapped,” and that there were shouts and  some unidentified sounds in the background. The dispatcher was not able to get more information, then the line went dead. She tried to call back, 7 times. Finally after consulting with a supervisor, they decided that it was a prank call and did not follow up.

This part of the story was hard to take, and it caused a public outrage especially since the first few hours are so crucial in such cases. There were  many arguments in the media about the incompetence and responsibility of the police. On the other hand, in Israel, in contrast to other places in the world, cases of kidnapping are rare and the dispatcher had no experience dealing with such a call. But someone had to pay the price, thus even before the boys were found several police officers lost their jobs.

After the boys were found and put to rest, another tragic event happened: a Palestinian youth was found dead. The case is under investigation, but it is very probable that he was killed by revengeful  Israelis.

At this moment the situation is Israel seems hopeless, but I believe that we could take a brave step in order to prevent more violence and hopefully restore order. Since the boys were abducted and killed by Palestinian terrorists, the Israelis regard their death as a national tragedy. I question the merit of this approach.

This was such an unusual event, that even the 100 dispatcher  and the supervisor did not recognize the call as a genuine  plea for help. We could decide to regard the kidnapping as a horrible, yet private crime. The boys stood at night in a dangerous area, took a risk getting into a car, were kidnapped and then brutally murdered by two vicious criminals, and they should be punished.

However, turning the tragedy into a national and political affair would flare up the area even more and could benefit only the extremists on both sides (and the politicians that thrive on the Middle East conflict). We should not let them take away our future.

About the Author
I have a PhD in English literature from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and I usually write about issues concerning women, literature, culture and society. I lived in the US for 15 years (between 1979-1994). I am widow and in March 2016 started a support/growth Facebook group for widows: "Widows Move On." In October 2017 I started a Facebook group for Older and Experienced Feminists. I am also an active member of Women Wage Peace and believe that women can succeed where men have failed.
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