Friday, July 09, 2010

9-Jul-10: One small life-changing event illustrates 4 things to know about how terrorism works

First the facts, based on a report by Hillel Fendel and Gil Ronen on the website of Israel National News.

The location: the entrance to the small, rural Jewish community of Ma'ale Levona, located in the southern Samarian hills, in the general vicinity of Eli, Shiloh and Ariel. About ninety families live there. It's the site of the first of the victories of the Maccabees two thousand years ago. And each year they host a colorful sheep-sheering event based on Jewish tradition.

The time: a day and a half ago, Wednesday, around noon. A young woman driving out of the town, her baby strapped safely into the back seat of the car, sees a young man by the side of the road, finger pointing outwards in the traditional hitchhiker's way, clearly looking for a ride. His head-covering (we call it a yarmulkeh) and backpack indicate he's probably a student in one of the schools for advanced Jewish learning, or yeshivot, that dot the area. The driver pulls over to offer a ride.

Only he's not a yeshiva boy. He's a Palestinian Arab with terrorism on his feverish mind. As the driver pulls over, he grabs the door of her car and opens it fiercely, spraying the surprised young woman with mace or tear-gas. She's unable to see, but she manages to stop the engine, jump out and do the thing that seems most urgent at that moment: grab for her baby in the back seat so that she can do whatever a person does to protect loved ones in the presence of a religiously-inspired jihadist.

The terrorist dives for the driver's seat and tries to start up the car but like almost every vehicle in this country, it's protected by an immobilizer and code. She has the baby in her arms, and he can't make good on his escape plan. So he cuts and runs for the hills. Police and emergency service personnel arrive. By the time they do, the "hero" has fled into the dust and rocks and villages and is unlikely to be found until he tries this again - which he almost certainly will.

(There was a similar attempt at the same place four years ago where the Arab terrorists (two of them) were armed and the targets were two ninth-grade girls waiting for a ride. That resulted in a successful arrest at a security checkpoint a few kilometers down the road.)

Some things about this report that we want to share:

1. Terrorism of this sort is almost never reported anywhere. Outside of Israel, you need to read blogs of a certain kind to know anything at all about this. Or about the many similar ongoing attacks that characterize this ongoing war. If it's never reported, then - as far as public opinion and policy makers go - it never happened. That's lesson number one.

2. A young mother in a car is a prime target, a perfect fit for a Palestinian Arab terrorist. Just like fuel depots, munitions factories and missile emplacements are, only mothers are much, much easier to hit and less well defended and the others on the list actually never are the targets. Woman plus child is precisely the kind of target for which they train. Young mothers, in this ongoing war, are never the collateral damage, or in the wrong place at the wrong time. They are the targets. And if there is a baby in the picture, that's (literally) a bonus. Lesson number two.

3. This sort of quiet, barely-noticed, violence, and its propensity to easily become lethal, characterizes the day-to-day security dangers that confront Israelis building constructive lives in the land where their ancestors lived. Ma'ale Levona and places like it (hundreds of them) will have movies made about it at some peaceful future point. It's neither a colony nor an outpost -- not for Jews. It's been in the chronicles of the Jewish people for longer than North America has had towns and cities.

4. The presence of an educated and educating community of young, energetic working families on a rocky hilltop (see the picture) could, under the right circumstances, be to the great advantage of the Beduins and other Arabs living in the tiny impoverished villages over the horizon, and might still be. They bring resources, and take virtually nothing. But the harsh reality is that from the time Zionist Jews began re-establishing towns and communities a century ago in the barren Jewish heartland, resentment and envy have characterised the way the neighbours viewed them. There have been murderous attacks on Jewish communities in the Jewish homeland (like the one on Wednesday and the thousands before it) for more than one hundred years. And by the way, terrorism was never, and is not, an answer to occupation and is entirely disconnected from it. Occupation is an invented concept that applies well to the British in Africa, to the Americans in Okinawa, to the French and the Belgians and the Italians and the Spaniards (and the list goes on) in their various colonies. It has zero application to the Jews in Israel.

1 comment:

Naomi Litvin said...

Resentment and envy fueled by deep seated hatred of the Jewish people. You would think that our legacy of survival would have ended long ago. But we are the Jewish people and we will prevail. Thank you so much for this blog, which I just discovered.