ELKAN’S VIEW FROM NETANYA 19th August 2015
Israel has been horrified internally by some of the events that have taken place in recent weeks, including the tragic murder of a young girl who was a spectator at the gay pride march in Jerusalem, and the stand-off that has developed in parts of the West Bank between settlers and police.
A Charedi, Yishai Schlissel, had just been released from a ten-year term for stabbing participants in a previous gay march, and had indicated his intention to do the same again. Evidently no notice was taken and no precautions were put in place. A report has now called for the dismissal of three senior police officers.
Another example of what has come to be religious conflict has been the torching of of two houses in the Arab village of Duma on the West Bank which is led to the death of an 18-month-old infant and his father. Those responsible painted on the outside the words “Tag Mechir – Price Tag”.
There has recently been a stand-off between police and settlers at Bet El, a settlement north of Jerusalem, where settlers were prepared to go to war with the Israeli army rather than permit them to demolish two half finished apartment blocks that had been erected on land that belongs to Palestinians.
I am aware that Orthodox Judaism is not responsible for this, but Jews are required to take into account the realities of the situation. “Lo Bashamayim Hi – It is not in Heaven” will shortly occur in our Torah reading. The prospect of Jew fighting Jew, or Israelis declaring war on their own army and State, is horrifying. Either there is the rule of law or there is anarchy.
There is much wrong with Israeli society, and although the government’s attention to the Iran situation is understandable, problems at home cannot be ignored. Violence must be stopped, and the desire of certain sections to create a state within a state must be terminated. Disturbingly, there are signs emerging that young Israelis are voting with their feet and going to live abroad because of the cost of living, but I will return to this theme on another occasion