Two wrongs do not make a right
We hosted a guest a few weeks ago. Our guest shared that he had been on a tour of Hebron with Breaking the Silence Organization. Their first stop was Baruch Goldstein’s grave. The guide told the story of the murder of of 29 Arabs in the Cave of the Patriarchs and the wounding of more than 100 others, I asked our guest whether any mention of the “before” was given. I wondered whether the guide talked about the series of terror attacks that had occurred in Israel leading up to Purim 1994. There was at least one terror attack a month from September 1993 – March 1994. In December 1993, Baruch Goldstein’s friend Mordechai Lapid and his son Shlomo were murdered at a bus stop and other family members were injured. (https://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/comprehensive-listing-of-terrorism-victims-in-israel#1993)
Dr. Goldstein had treated his friends and other victims of terror. Did he have an opportunity to talk with a mental health professional, to deal with his trauma? We don’t know, but I do believe that he was like a pressure cooker, just waiting to burst and the Purim attack was his explosion.
Fast forward to 30 years later. Since November 2022, 15 people have been killed in terror attacks, 13 people in a span of 2 weeks, including a husband and wife, a newlywed husband, 2 sets of brothers, and a young man who came to Israel to celebrate a friend’s wedding. Fear and rage is building. To add to this, the demonstrations about judicial reform have been going on for 8 weeks. We have nowhere to turn. We need to channel our feelings somewhere, the rage and fear are at a boiling point.
Since we don’t know where to turn, it is human nature to then become reactionary. Could this explain the violent response of the people who attacked the village of Hawara? Possibly. They have been asking for a road to reach their homes for years. They have been reporting on violence on that road for years-all ignored. Now, following the murders at the synagogue in Neve Yaacov, the Ramot bus stop, having barely caught our breath — this attack on the only road to reach their homes occurred. At this point, they feel that the only way to respond is through violence. Being quiet and obedient has brought them nothing.
I do not condone this response, nor Dr. Goldstein’s response 30 years earlier. Instead I believe that this is a call for all of us to take responsibility. We must reach out to those in pain and provide them with an outlet to share their feelings of anger and fear.
Trauma teams should be available and on call to help those in need. Community centers should have a plan in place to help those who are in pain.
This shabbat we will read Parshat Zachor — we will remember Amalek who has tried over the generations to destroy us but has not succeeded. Let’s not let our own anger and hatred be what destroys us.