Events and Life Mindsets Travel and places

Don’t say #IamTelAviv. Say #IamIsraeli, #IamaJew

Last night terrorists dressed as religious Jews launched a deadly attack on patrons of the popular Sarona Market in Tel Aviv. A common show of support for terrorism victims has started circulating: the #IamTelAviv hashtag. I think this is the wrong hashtag.

As I write this, 4 people have died from their wounds sustained in the attack.

A meme has started making its way around the web that is a variation of the hashtag themes that followed the terrorist attacks in Paris and other cities. People are showing their support for victims by using the hashtag #IamTelAviv.

I disagree. This was an attack on Israelis, on Jews. #IamTelAviv is a statement of support and unity, for sure, but this wasn’t just an attack on a city. This was a focused attack, it was more targeted. This was about killing Israelis, Jews.

The hashtag #IamTelAviv ignores the fact that terrorist attacks in Israel are not attacks on some monolithic city or a generic group of people. This was specific. If you want to show your support and signal your unity with us, use a hashtag that signals support for the real targets.



I dare you.

Postscript (2016-06-09)

This an example of what it means to be #IamIsraeli:

Events and Life Policy issues Politics and government

Explaining terrorism to children

The New York Times has a video feature about how a French children’s newspaper responded to kids’ questions about the recent Paris attacks by explaining terrorism to children. You should watch this if you are a parent:

This is something we deal with more and more here in Israel. Terrorism has become an almost daily occurrence here in recent weeks and months and kids are increasingly aware that there is something going on. There are different ways to respond to kids’ questions and I think this is probably a better one.

“I feel, in a way, like I am destroying the childhood of my children by exposing them to …

“Yeah, but they don’t live on planet Mars …”

Our kids have asked about the terrorist attacks here and we explain it to them as best we can without vilifying all Palestinians (in the context of the attacks in Israel) but, at the same time, they need some understanding of the underlying politics, animosity and dynamics between Israelis (specifically Jews) and radical Palestinians.

It is not easy and I wish we didn’t have to have these conversations with our kids but this is the world we now live in. The world has changed and there is no “Undo”.

Events and Life Mindsets

The Israel-Palestine conflict is easy to explain

The Israel-Palestine conflict is easy to explain and here is a great video from Prager University titled “The Middle East Problem” to do just that:

I especially like the last two questions:

  1. What would happen if Israel laid down its weapons and said it would fight no more?
  2. What would happen if the Palestinians laid down their weapons and said they would fight no more?

What do you think?

Events and Life

Last night my son asked me to explain terrorism

Last night my son asked me to explain why it is unsafe “out there”. I spoke to our kids briefly about the wave of terrorism spreading across Israel a few days ago in fairly general terms so they would have some appreciation of a change in the status quo (the one that counts). Still, I was dreading this question from him. He is old enough to understand more of it but still far too young to need to know what it means.

As I tried to explain to him that there are Palestinians/Arabs hurting Jews in many cities, I realized that while the victims are usually Jews, these terrorists probably don’t conduct in depth research and can target non-Jews too. That doesn’t really matter a lot to them, I suspect. The goal is uncertainty, the sense of an ever-present threat to our lives. The goal is terror.

I told him that it is scary and it means we have to be more careful until this threat subsides and he asked me how that will happen. I remembered an article I read earlier that day titled “Children and Fear of War & Terrorism” and started telling him that our brave soldiers and police will protect us, because that is exactly what they are working to do. Then I told him that our real defence against this sort of distributed terrorism is each other.

Our security forces can’t be everywhere and the terrorists know it. These terrorists don’t wear outfits that brand them as terrorists, they look like normal people going about their business until they decide to strike. Short of Minority Report-style pre-cognition, our security forces can only act if they are on the scene when an attack begins.

This brand of terrorism is a cancer and there are two ways you fight cancer when it manifests: intensive, focused action (usually radiation therapy) and systematic treatments like chemotherapy. Our security forces are working to deter terrorists with their presence and respond to attacks with intensive, focused action designed to swiftly neutralize the terrorists.

That is only part of the solution. The other “treatment” for this cancer is the very community the terrorists are attacking. Rather than allowing these attacks to fragment our community, we Israelis need to (and as the citizens of Ra’anana and other cities affected have shown) unite and protect each other by, literally, watching each other’s backs.

My kids love the arcade game Whack-a-Mole and I wonder if dealing with terrorism isn’t a lot like that? A terrorist steps out with a weapon, attacks and Israelis, Jews, citizens who are able strike back and neutralize that attack. You’ve probably noticed that I’ve used the word “neutralize” more than once. It is, in a sense, a euphemism, and can mean the attacker is subdued and arrested. It can also mean the attacker has been killed. I believe in our shared human rights and the right of an accused person to a fair criminal process. At the same time, when someone picks up a weapon, intending to kill us and attacks, there isn’t time to negotiate and pacify. These attacks are brutal and need to be met with decisive responses.

So I sat with my son in his bedroom and explained these attacks to him in terms I hoped wouldn’t give him nightmares. I told him they are scary for us too and that he should talk to us if he has anything to say about it, ask us questions he may have and not to hold his fears in. As he thought about that I told him we love him and we will look after him just as we Jews, we Israelis should look after each other and protect each other from this terrorism, this cancer.

You see, the one difference between my cancer treatments and defeating terrorism using my cancer analogy is that, unlike chemical chemo, social “chemo” need not be poisonous. It can unite us even more and strengthen our nation just by watching each other’s backs because we are all targets to these terrorists. Why shouldn’t we respond by becoming the collective treatment for this disease and wipe it out each time it surfaces?

עם ישראל חי


Photo credit: Bil’in Riot, Jan 2011 by the IDF, licensed CC BY NC 2.0

Events and Life Politics and government Travel and places

Appeasement didn’t work with Hitler, why should it work with Iran?

The information about the framework agreement concluded between a US-led collection of major powers and Iran doesn’t point to the best deal US President Obama could achieve. All he has managed to do is repeat a tragic historical mistake roughly 78 years after British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain’s appeasement policy failed to avert the Second World War and the devastation it brought.

As David Horovitz put it in his article on Times of Israel titled “The unfolding farce of Obama’s deal with Iran“:

What is becoming increasingly plain is the extent to which the Obama team and their colleagues were played for fools by the Iranians in the talks themselves.

Iran was dragged to the negotiating table by the accumulated impact of a painstakingly constructed sanctions regime. It was allowed to leave the table with much of its nuclear weapons program intact, and with the promise of those sanctions being removed.

Unsurprisingly, Iran was not required to acknowledge its nuclear weaponization efforts to date. Unsurprisingly, it was not required to halt its missile development program. Unsurprisingly, sanctions removal was not conditioned on its abandonment of terrorism, a halt to its financing and arming of Hezbollah, Hamas and other Islamic extremist groups, or an end to its relentless incitement against Israel. Nobody who had followed the Obama administration’s abject handling of the negotiations prior to Lausanne had expected anything in these areas.

Obama hasn’t averted a nuclear Iran, he practically guaranteed it (short of an intervention) and he will probably force Israel’s hand in the months and years to come. If Iran develops nuclear weapons the world will become an even more dangerous place for everyone, not just us Israelis.

Good job, President Obama. Good thing you don’t need to run for re-election.

Image credit: The BADGER explosion on April 18, 1953, as part of Operation Upshot-Knothole, at the Nevada Test Site.