The ghetto is in the details

I read an article on a news site. I had to read it twice to understand what had happened. My first take was a mistake. It was a result of wanting to read what is logical and right in an article that is just wrong.

The driver of the current Palestinian prime minister was pulled over for driving recklessly and endangering others on the road. The police officers realized who they had stopped and attempted to let the car go. Now, if they’d have stopped me, they’d have taken my license, my car and possibly even arrested me. But no, hey, the Palestinian prime minister may not pay taxes, may not have sons who served in the Israeli army and regularly volunteer for Magen David Adom but…politics is politics. So, they were ready to let him go.

The prime minister would have none of it – he called the officer a dog and refused to go until the Israeli police officer apologized. Up to this point, I’m okay. It is the next few moments that sicken me. See, what the Israeli officer should have done is one of the following:

1. He should have looked at the Palestinian prime minister and said, “Seriously?” Or…

2. He should have smiled and said, “well then, would you like me to get you a chair?” Or…

3. He should have said, “I’m going to count to three and if you don’t go, I’ll forget my nice offer and confiscate your car, your license, your camel, and your dog. One…two…three.”

Instead, the police officer apologized. For what, I don’t know. But he apologized.

Years ago, I was on a vacation ship near Eilat. We were about 10 Israeli couples, detained while waiting for a group. The group was from the Galilee area and were Israeli Arabs. Moments after we took to the Red Sea, the Arab group complained because they didn’t like “our” music. They handed the ship crew some CDs and told them they wanted to hear their own music. The captain agreed to do half-half. Then the Arabs didn’t like the fact that a free glass of wine was included in the cruise package. They don’t drink wine, they told the captain. The captain agreed to give them free juice (something that the rest of us would have had to pay for).

Then the captain went to stop the ship for an on-the-water barbecue. The Arabs protested that they didn’t want it and when the captain explained that it was part of the itinerary, the Arabs threatened to blow up the ship. The captain, without saying a word to the rest of us, turned the ship around and sailed for port. Once there, the bored Arabs left the ship and the rest of us asked why our 5 hour cruise had only lasted 2 hours.

The captain explained about the threat to blow up the ship and I looked at him, stunned almost beyond belief, “Did you really believe they carried explosives with them on the off-hand chance they would need to blow something up?”

The captain admitted he did not but that he felt the crew and other passengers could have been in danger. “Okay,” I answered back. “Let’s say that was true. If so, I understand your decision to turn around, but why didn’t you go in the bathroom and use your cellphone to call the police or the army? Why weren’t they arrested the minute we got to port?”

“You think I’m a coward?” the captain asked. “I served in the army.”

“Yes,” I answered him. “I think you are a coward and worse, I think you gave in to terrorism.”

That’s what that policeman did – he gave in to terrorism. The captain of that ship and the police officer who apologized prove that nothing defeats us so well as ourselves and that deep in the hearts of too many Jews, the ghetto still lives.

About the Author
Paula R. Stern is CEO of WritePoint Ltd., a leading technical writing company in Israel. Her personal blog, A Soldier's Mother, has been running for more than 5 years. She lives in Maale Adumim with her husband and children, a dog, too many birds, and a desire to write her thoughts and dream of a trip to Italy, Scotland, and beyond.