Some Real Questions

The past few weeks have been very tumultuous, even by the hectic standards of life in Israel. Recent events – the kidnapping and killing of three Jewish teenagers by Palestinian terrorists, and then the kidnapping and killing of an Arab teenager by Jewish extremists – have tested the limits of the frail makeup of society here. Most of the debate in the media has focused immediate, tactical questions: how to capture the perpetrators, what could have been done tactically to prevent the kidnappings, and what  o do against the general atmosphere of recriminations and mutual hatred.

I feel this debate, important as it is, has pushed aside other real questions
Israeli society should be dealing with, questions that are conveniently not
dealt with time and time again. This shifting of the debate is perhaps even
more serious, because the longer we defer dealing with these questions, the
likelier we are to witness similar events in the future.

Here are some of these questions:

  • Caving in to terrorist demands.

What would have happened if the kidnappers had not killed the three teenagers but instead issued a demand to free thousands of Palestinian terrorists from jail. Israel has been sliding down an incredibly dangerous path of caving in to terrorist demands and has avoided a real debate about this policy. Following the release of 1,000+ Palestinians in exchange for 1 captive Israeli soldier in October 2011, a committee headed by Emeritus Judge Meir Shamgar (the committee was established in 2008) concluded that the government should establish clear guidelines for future kidnappings. The government discussed the findings but did not establish any rules. In the absence of such rules, had the three teenagers been alive and captive today, there is no
doubt the public pressure to cave in to the terrorists would have been insurmountable.

Forget the tactical questions about how the police reacted or how the army responded. What about the strategic direction of the government? Hamas has been launching missiles into southern Israel for several days now, with scarcely a response from the government. Israeli Arabs have been holding violent protests in Jerusalem and elsewhere, disrupting life and causing significant property damages, and the response of the security forces has been mostly moot. How can the government claim to lead, when all it does is hold meeting after meeting, the results of which are always just words? One cannot expect things to change over night, but the ongoing paralysis of this useless government has been going on for far too long. It’s time to question if the current leadership is fit to lead.

  • Hitchhiking in the West Bank.

The three teenagers climbed into a car after 10pm in the heart of the West Bank. With many settlements located in remote areas and with the lack of adequate public transportation, hitchhiking in the West Bank is a way of life, despite the fact that authorities frown upon this practice and advise against it. The question of how parents allow their children to hitchike their way home at dark from the West Bank has been largely avoided. If you’re a parent, ask yourself this: would you allow your children to get into a stranger’s car, at night, in an area known to be prone to kidnap attempts? The Israeli Security Service published that it had foiled no less than 30 (!) kidnap attempts in the West Bank in 2013. Forget ideology, forget practicalities, forget everything. Would you place your children at such risk? I wouldn’t send my children to school in the West Bank (especially as there are excellent alternatives within Israel proper), let alone allow them to hitch a ride from there with a stranger. The question has to be asked: what kind of parents see this behaviour as a natural thing?

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