Sunday, March 19, 2006

Living on the Edge in Israel.

(Living in Israel may be similar to living in a"pressure cooker", but it is amazing the vitality, the resilience and the enjoyment of life exhibited by most of its citizens. It is this zest for living which her Arab neighbours cannot bear! They prefer to continue living (and dying and killing) in misery as long as they can inflict their own miserable view of the world on those whom they so obviously envy to extremes! MM)

Rabbi Dow Marmur

It doesn’t take much to destabilize us here. A mentally sick Jew, his Christian wife and their daughter set off firecrackers during a service in the Basilica of the Annunciation in Nazareth last night. The damage was minimal but in the mayhem thirteen worshippers and thirteen police officers were hurt, mercifully only lightly.
Politicians were quick to exploit the incident for their own purposes. Some pointed fingers at Jewish extremists. Arab members of the Knesset used the event to declare that the father should have been kept under lock and key, as he’s known to the police and in the past has threatened to blow up other churches. Arab politicians are always quick to say that the Israeli authorities are soft on Jews and hard on Arabs.
The Latin Patriarch in Jerusalem, with his own anti-Israel agenda, stated that it was the xenophobic mood in the country that fostered this kind of behavior. The Prime Minister-designate of the Hamas led Palestinian Authority said that the incident is a reflection of the culture of hatred toward all Arabs that Israel fosters.
Catholics held a demonstration in Nazareth this afternoon to blame the Government of Israel for the incident. The Government, sensitive to such accusations, hastened to reassure the Vatican, immediately after the incident and before the demonstration, that all holy places are properly protected in Israel.
The deranged man told journalists that he didn’t want to harm anybody, only to draw attention to his plight of being poor and having his children taken into care because of their parents’ allegedly irresponsible behavior in the past. Enemies of Israel were disappointed that he wasn’t part of some cabal, still tried to suggest otherwise.
Imagine, God beware, if the three had managed to get up to the Temple Mount and detonated firecrackers there. We might have been on the threshold of a world war today. If stupid cartoons in an obscure provincial newspaper in Denmark can cause such upheaval in the world, what reaction could we have expected from an attack on one of Islam’s holy places? We still remember the deranged Australian who many years ago tried something similar in the Al Aqsa Mosque.
Living in Israel, indeed in the entire region, is living on the edge. It’s reflected in events such as this one as well as, for example, in the many traffic accidents and related clashes. Human fuses are very short, often manifest in open aggression, not only towards others but sometimes also towards oneself.
On one level, when you walk the streets of say Jerusalem or Tel Aviv – or Nazareth for that matter – life in Israel seems remarkably normal. The traffic is heavy but reasonably orderly, the shops are busy, the cafes and restaurants full of women and men having a good time, and others go about their business in matter-of-fact ways. But you only have to scratch the surface to encounter the raw vulnerability and the cynical attempts by politicians and others to exploit it.
If you manage to stay outside the fray, as we’re privileged to do, the lightly suppressed aggressiveness adds to the vitality and excitement of the country. But when you have to live and work here, the stress level is considerable. Psychotherapists of all kinds are busy, but many patients don’t seem to be helped enough. The man, his wife and their daughter in Nazareth sadly illustrate yet another failure.
Jerusalem, Motzaei Shabbat Trumah (4.3.06) Dow Marmur

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