I began writing this article a few weeks ago, when Arab terrorists burst into a Jerusalem synagogue and murdered four Jewish men in the middle of morning prayers as well as one non-Jewish police officer, who is being lauded as a hero. And what is the primary emotion I feel when hearing about such incidents against Jews? No, not anger – it’s sadness, and it comes from more than one factor.
The first of those factors are the victims of the Jerusalem attack. Seeing the blood-stained images of the men, still garbed in their tallitot (prayer shawls) and tefillin (phylacteries), items I don on a regular basis myself for morning prayers, broke my heart. Hearing how the Druze police officer ran toward the danger, rather than away from it, leaving behind a wife and four-month-old daughter, also broke my heart. I always try to look for a silver lining and hearing how thousands of Jews and non-Jews attended the officer’s funeral warmed my heart. In addition to that, on the eve of the first Shabbat since the murders took place, the grieving wives of the victims asked everyone to make it a Shabbat of peace and love.
Another factor that saddened me was how the rest of the world reported the news. This is a topic in itself, but those who were quick to demonize Israel for defending itself against the terrorist organization of Hamas just a few short months ago seemed to go out of their way to misconstrue what happened at the Jerusalem synagogue. It saddens me to see how quick the world is to hate us, especially when there are true villains who are far worse and get much less attention than we do.
Also a few weeks ago, an Arab-Israeli bus driver hung himself inside his bus. The Arab community instantly dubbed this as a murder perpetrated by radical Israelis and encouraged the Arab-Israeli bus drivers to strike. My nightly commute home went from 45 minutes to an hour and a half.
A few months back, shortly after it was discovered that the three Israeli teens had been murdered, an Arab-Israeli teenager was also murdered. Israel was quick to admit that it was foul-play, denounce the act, and track down and apprehend the Jewish murderers. At least a few hundred Israelis went to pay their respects to the victim’s family. His killers were universally condemned. Unlike Arab martyrdom, no streets in Israel will be named after them, and their families will not be given a monetary reward.
So, when a medical examiner declares an Arab-Israeli bus driver’s death to be a suicide, it saddens me that his fellow Arab-Israelis, with whom I share this city, do not give us Jews the benefit of the doubt.
And among all of this we have Arabs stabbing unsuspecting civilians in the street, and Arab drivers intentionally running down pedestrians. One of the victims of these hit-and-run attacks was a three-month-old baby girl. The most circulated image of her showed the girl in front of the Western Wall, where her parents took her for the first, and tragically last time, just before she was intentionally murdered for being a Jew. Her innocent face on the news was perhaps the saddest image of all.
At the end of the day, I’d rather feel sadness over anger. Feeling sadness over the loss of innocent life, rather than anger and rage, is what separates Israel from its enemies. We don’t rejoice over the deaths of our enemies. Relief, perhaps, at the fact that the world is safer each time a terrorist leaves it but not joy. Golda Meir alluded to this best in her famous quote, “Peace will come when the Arabs will love their children more than they hate us.” Even when I see innocent victims on the news, there’s no room in my life for hate.
DANIEL STIEGLITZ (firstname.lastname@example.org), a Providence native, made aliyah in 2007. He holds a master’s degree in creative writing from Bar Ilan University; works as a trip coordinator at Sachlav/Israelonthehouse, a Taglit-Birthright Israel trip organizer; does freelance content writing; and lives in Jerusalem. His short story “End” was just published in FictionMagazines.com’s magazine, New Realm.