The primary responsibility of every government is to provide security for its citizens so they can go about their daily business without fear of death or injury. When this security is fundamentally lacking, we are no longer talking about a society going about its normal business, but about a state of anomaly, whether the society and its government explicitly recognizes this or not. This means that the basic, most fundamental pact between the government and its citizens lies in tatters.
Israel is living in a state of anomaly. Those who will say that it has always been so — that the current state of unceasing terror in which more than 30 people have been killed and almost 400 injured in terror attacks since September is no different — are dangerously missing the point. Those who come up with a world of excuses as to why the situation cannot be remedied and daily security on the streets reinstated are even more off target. The only question that matters from the point of view of Israelis who are performing their civic duties — serving in the army or sending their children to do so, paying their taxes, being law-abiding citizens — is why the other half of this societal contract, their right to physical security, is not being upheld. One has a fundamental right to go about one’s daily life without fear of being shot, stabbed, rammed by a car, or hit with a rock.
The answer to this question can never be that the international community may not like the measures needed for the government to provide such security. Physical security is every human’s primary right. Nothing can stand above it. Besides, the international community, or what passes for an “international community” these days, has already proved beyond all doubt that it cares nothing for Israeli lives. The European Union keeps pumping millions of euros into the Palestinian Authority, despite the fact that the PA is an authoritarian and undemocratic regime that ceaselessly indoctrinates its own citizens to murder Israelis and ruthlessly abuses and brainwashes its own children in the process.
The international community does not care about Israeli lives, but it cares tremendously about Israeli houses. It spends endless hours debating “settlements” and the soil on which these “settlements” rest. It is Jewish houses, sheds and vegetables, not knives and guns and the Arab terrorists who wield them, that the civilized Western nations have a problem with. How many more decades do we need to learn that crucial lesson?
At least one person was killed and more than a dozen were wounded in a series of terrorist attacks across Israel on Tuesday. The next morning, two terrorist attacks occurred in Jerusalem, with one Israeli critically injured. What is there left to debate? There have been dozens of stabbings, shootings and vehicular attacks to date. This is not normal. This is not something we should accept. This is sheer insanity.
And yet Israeli society goes on every day, almost as if nothing abnormal is happening. Because we have to, because we are tough, and “life must go on.”
But there is a tremendous fallacy in this. It endows the status quo with a dangerous legitimacy, as if we have all collectively told ourselves that such is our fate and that there is no other way. Why? Because the world might not like it if our government used harsher measures that would effectively root out the terror from our streets? The economy might — or might not — suffer if we were to care less what our trade partners think of our security policies. Personally, I would much rather suffer with a bad economy than with an anomalous and horrific security situation.
Perhaps millennia of exile and political anomaly — living without our own state or the possibility for self-determination and consequently being subjected to the whims and mercy of foreign rulers — has settled in the Israeli genome, leading even the most patriotic Israelis to unwittingly and subconsciously believe that this kind of security situation, unlike that of any other civilized nation on earth, is just the “Jewish normal.” It is not, and if we wish to be a full-fledged state, respected by other states in the world, it can never be the “Jewish normal.” Strength is the only thing that garners respect. And strength means upholding one’s most basic and fundamental rights.
Every Israeli has a fundamental and inherent right to physical security, but we seem to have forgotten this and dangerously accepted that this is how it is, that we always have to watch our backs, our children, our supermarkets and our doorways for Arabs with knives and guns. We must understand that it does not have to be this way. Such a disastrous and anomalous situation is not inevitable. It is one that we have chosen and continue to choose, every single day, for as long as we allow ourselves to be stabbed, shot, rammed by cars, and showered with rocks while we go about our business as if it were normal.
This article was originally published on Israel HaYom.