A sad day

Today a gunman killed eight people at a yeshiva in West Jerusalem.  It’s the first act of terrorism in Jerusalem in a while.  I am sorry for the victims, of course.  But moreover I am sorry for what this could bring in the future.  As I read the New York Times’ report this evening, all I can garner from it is the inevitable feeling that violence begets violence.

The mayor of Jerusalem, Uri Lupolianski, said: “This is a sad evening for Jerusalem. We had about gotten used to quiet and calm.”

The scene outside the yeshiva was furious and passionate, with at least 50 ambulances and as many police cars on the streets outside, and angry yeshiva students and local residents lined up behind police tapes, chanting, “Death to Arabs,” “Olmert — you are to blame,” and “Who gave them weapons?”

Rabbi David Shalem, 43, the director of the Institute of Talmud Studies inside the yeshiva, where he has spent the last 22 years, tried to wipe his tears away. “Tomorrow instead of religious lectures there will be funerals,” he said, then shouted: “Let the government go to hell! Write that down. Let the government go to hell!”

Asked what the government should do, Rabbi Nachum Levy, 60, said, “I would like to see Olmert go with a strong hand.” Where? “Everywhere, in Gaza and the north and inside,” he said, “and not dismantle settlements.”

Death to the Arabs? I would like to see Olmert go with a strong hand?  Not dismantle settlements?  Please stop!  When I read these words all I can imagine is next step, the next movement in this tragic dialectical relationship.   It doesn’t help that Hamas had this to say:

In Gaza, the radical Islamic movement Hamas did not take responsibility for the attack but praised it. In a text message, Hamas said: “We bless the operation. It will not be the last.”

I hope that they are wrong.  I like to think of myself as a hardened realist, but today’s killings have sent me into an emotional tailspin.

Don’t you hate seeing pictures like these?


1 Comment

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One response to “A sad day

  1. joan

    It would seem to me inevitable that some violent expression of rage would be a response to Israel’s collective punishment of Gaza, including who knows how many deaths from lack of fuel,electricity, medicines or food normally imported from Israel, as well as 120 killings in Gaza this week alone, including civilian women and children firebombed in their homes. All this condemned by the UN and myriad human rights groups. I also mourn the Iraeli deaths, and do not condone violence on either side. However, Michael Lerner describes the site of the Israeli killings as “the ultra-nationalist religious center that developed the ideology which inspired religious Zionists to believe that they had a God-given right to settle and hold on to the territories without regard to the consequences for the Palestinian people already living there”, so Rabbi Shalem’s response was not an emotional reaction in a terrible moment, but expressed the political philosophy of his Yeshiva. And Hamas or whoever did not attack a supermarket or pizza parlor. Again I emphasize, the violence is wrong, the killings are tragic. On both sides. The world is in an emotional tailspin, nor are we out of it. My sympathies go out to the families who have lost loved ones in Gaza and in Jerusalem.

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