We need a reality check

On Thursday, two young Israeli parents were killed by two Palestinian terrorists who opened fire from a vehicle and shot them with a handgun and a rifle. The mother, Naama Henkin, died instantly while the father, Rabbi Eitam Henkin, despite suffering multiple wounds to his upper torso, managed to step down the vehicle, open one of the back doors and order his four children to flee the scene, before dying of his wounds.

On Friday evening, a 9 year old child had become the oldest person in his family and as such, he took on the task of leading the funeral of his and his sibling’s parents. They were killed in front of their children’s eyes, because they were Israeli, because they were Jews.

Before someone points out that there are extremists Jews who have murdered Palestinians as well, you are right. However, you need to be intellectually honest with yourself and consider two things: the difference in frequency of occurrence of such events, as well as people’s reaction to them.

Yes, there are terrorist Jews in Israel, most if not all of them belonging to the extreme right. But occasions in which these extremists turn violent to the point of wanting (or G-d forbid managing) to commit murder is extremely rare.

On the other hand, if you are an Israeli travelling through the West Bank, expect school children innocently crossing the street before they start throwing massive stones at your car, daily. Know that their intent is to kill you. In fact, expect people to often die from such injuries, sometimes the victim is a child as well. Sometimes, these children victim of rock-throwing terrorists spend two years in and out of various hospitals, before dying.

Be careful, because Palestinian terrorists will sometimes try to kill you and your family by shooting at your car with rifles, this is not uncommon- I have met a man who has survived being shot in the head and is now miraculously alive, but blind.

Be careful, because as a Jew you only need to take a wrong turn in Jerusalem (in your own country, in your most sacred city) to be ambushed by Palestinian residents and being kicked, thrown on the ground and beaten up. It happens, not so rarely.

Be careful, because last year it was fashionable to kill Jerusalem residents by ramming vehicles into them, even if they were three-months infants. The Palestinian media referred to it as the “third intifada”, encouraged it with a cartoon campaign and a Palestinian duo composed the song “Run over the two-month baby”.

The examples above will hopefully serve to show that this is not a problem Israel has with Hamas – this is an ideological problem, deeply rooted in a big part of Palestinian society.  If you do not hear about it in the media, it is because the world does not care. It has never cared, we are used to it. However, dear World, do not expect Israel to trust you, when you say you will protect us from countries who have openly said their aim is to erase us from history and the face of the Earth, even coming up with 9-step manual on how to achieve this.

My second point is that yes, I unfortunately have to admit there are a number of Jewish terrorists, the crucial difference however is how Israelis and Palestinians react to terror that stems from their own people. I am not talking about official statements by the government, but about how people, ordinary citizens, react to the loss of innocent people’s lives by the hands of terrorists.

Many of you won’t hear about yesterday’s tragedy in the media (up to you to conclude why), but you probably have all heard about a similar tragic story, with roles inversed, where the perpetrators were Israelis and the victims Palestinians. 

A notorious case occurred this summer, when a gang (Jews until otherwise proven) torched a Palestinian house, resulting in the tragic death of a baby and later on, of his mother. A barbaric, never exculpable crime. I was in Israel when it happened. The first reaction many people had was to say that the house was probably torched as part of a revenge crime and that whoever torched, did not know a baby and his family were inside. But these ideas quickly transformed into something a lot more profound: we, as a nation, acknowledged that we did not know whether this murder was intentional, but admitted to ourselves and concluded that it did not matter.

We, as a nation, woke up the next morning and felt collectively ashamed and broken, because of one or a couple of people who committed this horrendous crime.

We, as nation, requested our Government to bring the perpetrators of this crime to justice and prayed that such a thing would never occur again.

We, as a nation, view each life as sacred and one of the truths we hold most dearly to our hearts is that whoever saves a life, it is as if they saved the world. Conversely, no man should ever attempt to take someone else’s life and if they do, there is no greater crime in our eyes and in the eyes of G-d.

Fast forward to yesterday’s tragedy, or to so many other terroristic acts that have been committed by the hands of Palestinians. There, the shameful reaction is that people name entire roads after terrorists, sweets are handed out on the street to celebrate, terrorists’ (called “martyrs” ) families are compensated financially by the Government, Hamas and Fatah (considered by the world as our moderate peace partnerwelcome such terror attacks, children are encouraged to become martyrs themselves and such acts of terrorism are publicly, collectively praised. The attack on the Henkin family was praised as “heroic” by Hamas’ Spokesperson.

So please, dear World, I will be very straightforward with you to make this clear: wake up, turn around, perform a reality check and stop expecting Israel to engage in peace talks with people who have grown up and lived their lives knowing nothing but hate towards us.

We live in a time in which the future of Israel has never been so uncertain, but unfortunately there is one thing of which we can all be sure: until our death and our blood continue to be praised and sought so often by the Palestinians, there cannot be and there will not be a peaceful resolution to this conflict, as peace requires valuing and striving for life, not death.

About the Author
Luisa Peress has dual citizenship and is now living in London. Currently she is in her fourth year of medicine at Barts & The London, having just completed a year in Neuroscience and Mental Health at Imperial College London.