‘The voice of your brother’s blood cries out to me from the ground!’ God says after Cain killed his brother Abel. (Genesis 3:10)
The voices of your neighbors’ blood and fellow citizens cry out from the ground. I cry out to my Jewish friends. Who else do we have left to cry out to? The government? The police? To whom?
One-hundred and sixty people have been murdered, 160! Sacred lives have been taken. Lives of men and women, boys and girls, many of them with no connection to crime, who paid the highest price because their lives were held in such disregard. How I cry out that sacred life is taken with such cruelty.
Is everything political? How can one remain indifferent to the cry of the girl who lost her father? The boy who lost his mother? Do the same girl and boy imagine that if they were not Arabs it’s possible that their parents’ murders could have been avoided? Is this the society we want to live in?
There will be those who will say it is our culture or those who will blame our religion. There may even be quite a few who are not sad at all by the spilling of Arab blood. How did we lose our humanity – do we no longer care about human life?
When I heard about the horrific attack in which Batsheva Negri z”l was murdered, I couldn’t stop crying. I felt so much pain for a young mother whose life was taken with such cruelty; for her 12-year-old daughter who witnessed everything. I couldn’t sleep. The news about the murder of Dr. Abd el Rahman Kashua, head of Tira Municipality left me in shock. A public leader, an imam, was murdered just like that – in front of the police station? What have we come to?
A few weeks ago, I was among the organizers of the March of the Dead in Tel Aviv. 147 coffins signifying all the Arabs killed this year were carried by young Arab men and women. Many Jews marched with us and along with great sadness we had hope that we were not alone. But for the members of the families – the orphans – this is not enough. In many of these murder cases, the victim’s family live next to the murderer who is not charged by the police because there is a lack of evidence or proof. Imagine a situation where a despicable murderer walks free alongside relatives of the murdered. What human society could allow this to occur?
We marched to demand the obvious. Today I am not only demanding. If I could file an indictment against the Israeli government and its leader for disrespecting our lives, I would do so. After the severe wave of violence in May 2021, many of us – social and educational activists – warned that idle, inactive young people will fall captive to criminal activity and can, in an instant, turn their weapons from crime to nationalistic violence. We warned about the ubiquity of weapons. We warned of the lack of educational resources, of frameworks for youth guidance, and the lack of encouragement of education and values.
When Dr. Mansour Abbas, chairman of the Ra’am party, chose to join the government headed by Naftali Bennett, he justified this brave step as an opportunity to influence this existential concern for our situation from within. Indeed, during the brief term of the “Change Government,” we saw the first rays of hope. But unfortunately, nothing that was started then has continued since Netanyahu returned to power. Those who claim that the right-wing government wants us Arabs to continue fighting among ourselves are probably right. They want us to remain bogged down in the swamp of violence and murder.
At the March of the Dead in Tel Aviv, many religious Jews stood out, wearing knitted kippas, black kippas, various head coverings, young and old. Many of them approached me, some with embarrassment, some with pride, to tell me how ashamed they were of the situation, how ashamed they were that the government was doing nothing. If I have a little hope, it is from those citizens who join us, express their pain. These are the citizens to whom I appeal: Help us reach your leaders, those rabbis who might influence the kippah wearers in the government; those leaders who read the Torah every week in synagogue and know that in Judaism, as in Islam, harming a person is harming God. There is no more serious offense than this.
I fear for my own safety. What I say may direct the bullet at me. But I refuse to give in to despair. I am ready to put myself at risk in the fight for human life.
Don’t leave me to bear this alone.