Intifada or pogrom?

We sit glued to our television sets, to Arutz 2, to BBC news coverage of the daily riots, stabbing, and killings in our country. Jerusalem, Afula, Raanana, Petach Tikva….which city on our map will be the next to suffer from the riotous murders by lone-wolf Arab teen-agers?

Bibi Netanyahu sits with his cabinet and they discuss plans of action, most of which have been fruitless so far.

The killings continue no matter how many we increase to our army, police and border patrol.

There are humanitarian ways to punish the perpetrators of these crimes and their families. In the period of the British Mandate, homes were demolished. We appear to be too weak or too humane to make Arab families homeless. And the kinder we are to them, we are repaid with stabbings and suicide bombings.

If I were Prime Minister I would order that the electricity and water be turned off in the homes and villages from whence the murderers come. A military curfew would be enforced, allowing families three hours each day to purchase food and necessities. Living without electricity and its comforts is unpleasant but it may be a laxative to a situation which is choking us.

Is this the beginning of intifada 3 or is it an old-fashioned pogrom? Some Palestinian leaders declare it to be a new intifada, an uprising of the Arab people against the “occupiers”. Most of our government leaders deny that it is an intifada. Simply uncontrolled rioting, which is exactly what a pogrom is.

In 1904, our greatest poet and first poet laureate, Chayim Nachman Bialik, responding to the horrible pogrom of 1903 in Kishinev, wrote a massive poem which he called “B’ir ha hareiga”… The City of Slaughter.

He brings us into the city and wallows with us through narrow courtyards still wet and running with spilt Jewish blood. He shows us stomachs ripped open by Cossack knives, dead infants sucking at the breasts of lifeless mothers. He writes not of Jewish suffering but of Jewish shame.

His condemnation stirred the youth organizations which banded together in Russian towns as defense units. Tragedy and misery were turned by Bialik into songs of national determination.

“”The hatchet found them here, and hither do they come
To seal with a last look, as with their final breath, the agony of their lives, the terror of their death….
Their silence whimpers, and it is their eyes which cry
It is a silence only God can bear…..”

But it is not a silence for us and it is not God who will deliver us from the slaughter. It is we, and we alone, the Jews of Israel who must find a way to respond to the terror without creating additional terror.

It is, in my opinion, not the Palestinians who broke the agreed-upon Status Quo of 1967. It was the flood of Jewish pilgrims who ascended to the Temple Mount before Rosh Hashanah, and without praying, even in their silence, gave fear to the Muslims that their holy mosques were being violated by non-believers, by infidels, by Zionist Jews. It was the image of kippah-wearing Jews that struck the match which was to ignite into an uprising which seems to have no end.

No one doubts our Jewish right to ascend to the Temple Mount, our holiest place. But it should have been done in controlled ascension, only so many at any one time. Our police could have enforced it but they did not.

I don’t know if this is the beginning of the third intifada, may God spare us from it, or if the Arab thirst for Jewish blood is Kishinev of 2015.

Enforce a curfew. Turn off the electricity. Shut the water pipes. And when our enemies cry for mercy we will be prepared to sit with them and attempt to resolve and to restore what once was… a salaam and a shalom.

About the Author
Esor Ben-Sorek is a retired professor of Hebrew, Biblical literature & history of Israel. Conversant in 8 languages: Hebrew, Yiddish, English, French, German, Spanish, Polish & Dutch. Very proud of being an Israeli citizen. A follower of Trumpeldor & Jabotinsky & Begin.
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