Hearts of Stone Can Kill (and Other Melancholy Stories from Judea)

With municipal elections yesterday, the country seems neither sad, nor glad, nor even very mad, at the results. Incumbents won in the big cities. In Jerusalem a third of the population continues to disenfranchise themselves by refusing to vote despite their own interests and plain common sense. But at least the Arabs do it out of ideology. We’re just too lazy to vote.

Also yesterday, on the Tekoa-Jerusalem road, the main road to Herodion, a national park and historical site of no small importance, 40 Arab men, women and children from the area showered Israeli-licensed vehicles with stones for 20 minutes before the army arrived and declined to pursue the attackers. Apparently the standing orders in the IDF are to treat rock throwing as a petty nuisance, certainly not as terrible as those price tag terrorists who put words on buildings. Those criminals are worth pursuing. Thank God, there were only minor injuries this time, despite the large scale of the attack.

A few dozen cars from Tekoa drove out to the site of the crime last night and blocked the entrance to Beit Sahour for about an hour in protest. But who are we protesting and to what end? I doubt the angry mob is intimidated by a road blockage, and the army is happy as long as nobody gets hurt. No paper work to fill out. How many people need to die from these attacks before we, Israelis, take them seriously, and what will it look like when we do? My neighbors say they drove by the nearest checkpoint with broken windows and alerted the soldiers, who continued allowing cars to go by the other way without warning. Were they sleeping? Maybe they were numb on the inside, but they acted alert. Anesthesia gone horribly wrong.

That seems to be how much of the country is responding to the current ‘situation.’ As we play pretend at the negotiating table, Israelis are suffering from slowly increasing violence. A rock here, a tractor driven into an army base there… Wait, really? Did that really happen? Yeah, and still we’re asleep. We sleep as the PA plans the next intifada and warms up its troops on the ground with mischief. But that won’t stop us from releasing prisoners. Why? Not doing it would break the fourth wall, destroying the illusion. Nobody blinks when the other side breaks character, but we have to keep up the charade, consequences be damned.

In the mean-time, when I drive that road nearly every day, should I be more afraid of stones, or of the judge who might put me in jail if I fight back? Absurdities pile on absurdities, and yet the center holds. We’re still here, still growing, even thriving. It seems when God decides to bring his children home, not even their own stupidity and insolence can divert him from seeking their good. For the Guardian of Israel neither slumbers nor sleeps.

About the Author
Rabbi Eitan Levy is a tour guide and organizer in Israel. He grew up in Denver, Colorado, got a BA in philosophy at Sarah Lawrence, and rabbinic ordination at a yeshiva in Jerusalem. He loves to share his love of the Torah, land and people of Israel in writing, lectures, and tours. He lives in Tekoa with his wife and three little gremlins.