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Monday, 4 January 2016

Life and Death: It’s All Timing in the Feisty State of Israel

It’s all down to timing. 

 Jewish Israelis Alon Bakal and Shimon Ruimi were in the wrong place at the wrong time in Tel Aviv on New Year’s Day afternoon and so became the victims of crazed Arab Israeli gunman, Nashat Milhemal.

And as Ruimi was interred on Sunday in Ofakim near Beersheva, Bakal was buried where I live - his home-town of Karmiel. Again, with perfect, quite filmic timing, the knife-cold, black weather gave way to patchy blue sky and pallid sunlight, thus allowing short-lived relief to the thousands of well-wishers milling around the cemetery gates. 

I’ve visited Karmiel’s cemetery too often of late and only a few weeks ago was present at the burial of another much loved young man and father. He had succumbed to cancer. That occasion also saw hundreds of out-of-town mourners paying their final respects.

But this latest interment was somehow extra-special. It was not only the size of the ever-swelling, bussed-in crowd; the presence of political VIPs; the police escort or even the uniformed soldiers bearing wreaths that gave it a different feel.

When my acquaintances’ son died, he was released from a horrible illness. His loved ones may have seen it as a blessed relief for him, if not for themselves. 

But Bakal and Ruimi were two fine, healthy people, adored as sons, lovers, friends who in turn relished life and were slain suddenly – without warning – during an outrageous game of target practice.

So, we’re all angry about the mindless waste of life; furious that the double murders have gone on to serve as a starkly sinister backdrop to the coincidental arrests of the young Jews allegedly responsible for the massacre of the Arab Dawabsha family in Duma

But what enrages me yet further are two things – apparently poles apart - yet strangely linked:

First is that the so-called ‘hilltop youth’ are being incited directly by ultra-Orthodox rabbis who state unequivocally that they support the killing of innocent non-Jewish children to stop them growing into future terrorists.

And the second? The grandiose but empty tosh of the sort spewed by young Anglo-Jewish left-wingers at the winter Limmud conference in Birmingham, U.K.  

Indeed, their anti-Israel bias so annoyed writer and former Israel resident, David Collier that he wishes he had walked away from a panel discussion debating how Jewish led anti-Zionist forces were now controlling sections of university campuses.

So I’ll conclude here on a despairing note with some lines from Collier’s blog post, ‘Breaking My Silence, Discussing the ‘Theoretical Zionist’:

“It cannot be said often enough or strongly enough that Israel is at war. Not a theoretical ‘cold war’ but a real battle, a battle that they cannot afford to lose. Israel is only there today because the IDF is strong …

“Limmud was overrun by ‘theoretical Zionists’. On every platform, people who represent a tiny minority in Israel were given massive coverage. Activists roamed the halls trying to persuade others to follow their vision. This isn’t Zionism, it is the demise of Zionism in the UK. Israel is only your state if you make it your state. Pack your bags and work to change it from within.  

“What arrogance to sit in the comfort of the US or Europe and decide from afar what is best for a people who truly know the price of war. Being Jewish doesn’t give these groups any additional validity. If Israel was to follow or be pressured (as seems to be Yachad’s wish) into making massive territorial compromise within the current environment, what would Yachad activists do if it crumbled? When the rockets started to fly, who would be there to fight for the state – these activists certainly wouldn’t. The world these activists live in is built on a load of theoretical poppycock. Just like their Zionism”.

Indeed. Yes. And I am sure Collier’s words will be warmly endorsed by the families of Alon Bakal and Shimon Ruimi. May both men rest in peace.

© Natalie Wood (04 January 2016)

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