The essentiality of anger

Published in The Jerusalem Post and Israel Hayom, November 21, 2014.

Doing what is needed to improve Israel’s personal and national security does not require any apologies. Israel ought not weakly whimper away in face of Palestinian terrorism. What has happened to our national grit? Time to rev-up a national outcry and wake-up our government. 

A grotesque kind of quiet has taken root among Israelis in the Promised Land; a morose passivity that expresses depression and suggests acquiescence. It stems from the feeling that little can be done about “the situation.” It comes from the paralyzing conclusion that there are no easy solutions in our war with the Palestinians.

And you have to wonder: When will we learn, finally, to harness the vitality of anger; anger that has built-up inside of us all — instead of wallowing in woe?

It is almost as if Israelis have been lulled into a stupor by the intractable nature of the conflict. No matter how hard the gangs incited by Mahmoud Abbas hit us, we fail to rise up in appropriate rage and demand that our government take determined action to shut up Abbas and shut down the terrorist cells in eastern Jerusalem.

No matter how many times Palestinians violate their treaty obligations, Israelis, it seems, just settle back into the living room armchair to sigh and cluck in sadness.

No matter how horrific the latest terrorist outrage, we are wont to sorrowfully cry with the widows and orphans on TV, or mournfully mutter “how terrible it is” around the coffee-maker at work. To release some bottled-up bitterness, someone will make a sarcastic remark about feeble Israeli leadership or crack some black humor about the situation.

Immediately upon discovering the next Palestinian transgression, Internal Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovich will convene “urgent consultations,” from which he will emerge hours later to solemnly inform us that “the police are beefing up their presence in Jerusalem,” or, comically, that he has ordered concrete blocks be placed at strategic train stops in Jerusalem to defend pedestrians.

Benjamin Netanyahu will emerge from the Prime Minister’s Office with a grim face to rhetorically slam Abbas and to tell us for the umpteenth-thousandth time that he views “this dangerous escalation with the utmost gravity.” Justice Minister Tzipi Livni will pontificate something about the need for “calm” and wail that we need to give the Palestinians a “horizon.”

Undoubtedly, these pronouncements have Islamic Movement leader Raed Salah, Abbas and the gangs of Jabel Mukaber shaking in their boots.

And the people of Israel? We cluck and groan and murmur our discontent, and then get on with our daily business as best we can. Because we have no choice, right?

EVEN AFTER the Begin Center, Shuafat, Sheikh Jarrah and Wadi Joz assaults, the slaughter of Jews in synagogue in Har Nof, and recent Tel Aviv terrorist attacks too – are we too afraid, tired or downcast to “take to the streets” or to the airwaves and to demand real action from our government?

It is almost as if we are embarrassed to demonstrate or raise our voices; ashamed to let the blood get to our heads and make us real angry. What has happened to our national grit?

Anger, writes Maimonides, is a treacherous emotion to be avoided in most situations, as is hate (Codes, The Book of Knowledge, 2:3). Except when faced with evil. Then, anger is the appropriate, necessary, energizing, response. It is a mitzvah to hate those who seek to undermine the morality of society or to destroy the nation.

Does anyone have any doubt that the Palestinian regime established alongside us over the past 20 years is malignant? That the PA-controlled Wakf on the Temple Mount is fomenting violence? And if so, are we forever going to sit back and sigh?

I believe that the vast majority of eastern Jerusalem Arabs abhor the violence. They value their Israeli-provided freedom of expression and mobility, their Israeli jobs, medical care and social welfare benefits; and they would welcome an Israeli military re-conquest of their streets. They really would.

Thus the neutralization of Abbas’ influence in Jerusalem and the crushing of radical elements in eastern Jerusalem are not impossible. I’m certain the General Security Services, Israel Police and IDF can do the job if given the order and the resources to do so.

But this requires national will; it will only come about if the public demands strong leadership. It will come about if the public demands that both government and opposition parties put aside their internal rivalries and overcome paralyzing hyper-attentiveness to foreign criticism. Otherwise, Israeli inaction in the face of enemy attack will be mistaken as resignation and acceptance of the situation.

TWO THOUSAND years after the destruction of the Second Jewish Commonwealth and only one generation after the Holocaust, the Jewish People have returned to Zion to reclaim their homeland, through much sweat and sacrifice. Despite a few post-Zionist intellectuals, Zionist grit and patriotic determination is alive and well among large majorities of Israel’s varied sub-societies.

Doing what is needed to improve our personal and national security does not require any apologies. We ought not weakly whimper away.

It is essential that we angrily shake the trees and rustle-up the troops. The Netanyahu government should feel much more manifestly that it has the overwhelming backing of Israelis for decisive, seismological action against radical actors in Palestinian society and the Israeli Arab community.

David M. Weinberg is a think tank director, columnist and lobbyist who is a sharp critic of Israel’s detractors and of post-Zionist trends in Israel. Read more »
A passionate speaker, David M. Weinberg lectures widely in Israel, the U.S. and Canada to Jewish and non-Jewish audiences. He speaks on international politics and Middle East strategic affairs, Israeli diplomacy and defense strategy, intelligence matters and more. Click here to book David Weinberg as a speaker

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