First, stabbings must end; second, change must begin

In 2011, there was a home invasion and massacre in the settlement of an Israeli family at Itamar. First, from a Jerusalem Post letter on that horror. Then mainly on to the horror story of today.

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Unspeakably horrific.

A devastating hell for the innocent victims and their families.

Their blood cries to heaven and deserves first comment all its own — silence and prayer just about this, a tragedy, injustice and hell beyond words.

But these innocent victims and their families with destroyed lives, whose horror is simply beyond language to express, also live in a larger world.

And how horrible also for prospects for peace, and what an excuse for Netanyahu to continue the occupation and settlements, and for continued Palestinian suffering.

Nonetheless, today this is beside the point.

The first moments should be reserved only for these innocent victims and the shattered lives of both the dead, whose blood again, like Abel’s, cries out to heaven, and for their surviving loved ones.

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And now today is the same way about the epidemic of stabbings of innocent passerby on the everyday streets of Israeli cities and towns.

And also the awfulness of prospects for peace and the excuses of Prime Minister Netanyahu to continue the occupation and settlements, and for continued Palestinian suffering.

But, like then: First things first: Attend to the horror of the moment.

When stabbings or any killings are happening, whether on a nightmare night to one family in Itamar, or on a larger scale on the streets of Jerusalem or other towns, everything must become beside the point.

The heart is always first with the suffering and victims and grief-stricken survivors of the dead, and first with the deeply fearful, the deeply fearful for friends and loved ones.

Adult partners and parents and brothers and sisters and children.

(In the same way, my heart, anyway, was with the two thousand dead of Gaza — and the 500 dead children of Gaza and their utterly distraught and lost and weeping parents.)

But then — when these intolerable stabbings in Israel are over, tomorrow we have to go into the roots of these hideous crimes — atrocities which still do not come out of nowhere.

Peoples are not genetically hard-wired to want to randomly stab each other.

But it is still today — not yet tomorrow.

And today there must end the stabbings of the innocent.

And all who live in grave fear about harm to themselves and especially their children and all loved ones.

Whole cities are gripped by fear — of random personal attacks on them and their families and children.

We all know that tomorrow can’t come soon enough.

And when it does, it will be back to something else:

To end the occupation and expansionism in East Jerusalem and the West Bank ; often wanton detentions and abuse ; price-tag attacks.

But in the meantime — it is not tomorrow. It remains today.

The nightmare of stabbed innocent people and their bereaved loved ones. And everyone in fear.

We can talk about tomorrow when it becomes tomorrow.

And we will have to.

But today is today. And the killing fields must end. The killing streets.

These must end first, in order even to get to tomorrow.

But when tomorrow does come, then the oppression –and the chicken-and-egg cycle of violence and grief – must also end.

And justice and peace emerge out of an endless social nightmare.

As in Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address and King’s Dream.

We know them.

But for now, to stop the stabbing, to stop the killing streets.

The streets on which innocent people simply move about as they do nothing more or less than live their everyday lives — and as we all do, simply as human beings, all over the world, anywhere, everywhere.

But when tomorrow then comes, the unspeakable stops, the fear lifts:

There must resume the larger conversation about genuine hope.

And basic change.

But first no stabbings.

Or nothing will ever resume — no change. At all.

Except for the worse, for both peoples, in a nightmare without end.

About the Author
James Adler was born in Kentucky, now works in university libraries, and feels especially and intensely bound up with the fate of the Jewish people in the last hundred years, especially the Shoah, the rise of Israel "out of the ashes," and the accidental and mutually tragic collision with the Palestinians in the early and middle of the 20th century, continuing through today. He is happily married and the father of two teenagers.
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