Saturday, March 27, 2004


Today is the second anniversary of the Passover Massacre. Park Hotel, Netanya. 27th March 2002.

So much has changed since then. That was fear, real fear. At that time, there were terrible terrorist attacks every day, every day. I remember that fear, but I don’t feel it now.

Reacting to the Yassin killing the other day, I said: “…the fear is legitimate, I feel it too…” But the truth is, I don’t. Well I do a little, when I dwell on it, but why should I dwell on it? I don’t think about it at all.

I work on a busy main street. When I leave work every afternoon, there is usually a traffic jam outside my workplace. As I cross the street on the clearly marked pedestrian crossing, I have to weave through the waiting vehicles. Every time I cross, I fear one of motorbikes or mopeds that rush past the stopped cars will run me over. I have often thought that I am very likely to end my life crossing that road. Life is full of dangers.

The Palestinians have been doing their utmost to pull off a 9/11-style mega-attack inside pre-1967 Israel for ages now. The fact that it hasn’t happened, and that there haven’t been many “ordinary” massacres in recent months either (you know, the usual stuff – buses, crowded shopping areas, children in their beds…), is not because they’ve been holding back or keeping their big guns for when we kill the little old devil in the wheelchair. It’s because we’ve been killing his deputies from above all the time (read: cruel, illegal targeted killings), it’s because we’ve been catching the would-be suicide bombers at the checkpoints all the time (read: cruel, illegal, oppressive checkpoints), and it’s because we’ve been building a very big protective fence all the time (read: cruel, illegal apartheid wall). The result of all these actions, that undoubtedly make the life of many ordinary Palestinians very, very difficult, is that a barrier has appeared, separating terrorists from victims, keeping the bad guys away from me and mine. As a result, they are finding it increasingly difficult to get through. If once the terrorists could just circumvent checkpoints by sauntering over the fields, for a while now the best they’ve been managing is a few troubled women and children being sent to explode, for lack of any other options. If that isn’t a signal of dire distress (besides a complete and utter lack of morals) then what is?

So you see, I have no particular fear as a result of the Yassin killing. I know my army, my security services and my government, are doing their utmost to protect me. They were before and they are now. I didn’t change anything in my way of life as a result. I went to the mall, I went running with Bish in the park a few times, Eldest went out twice collecting donations door-to-door for some charity or other, I got the bus to work every morning, I walked home every afternoon (thankfully, not getting run over by a motorbike when crossing the road). And I must say, I didn’t notice any less people in the shops, in the cafes or in the streets. On the contrary, it’s two weeks before Pesach (Passover). The shops are packed; the atmosphere in the supermarket is one of frantic activity. It’s all hogwash, silly scaredy-pants propaganda, the Media inventing news. It hasn’t happened.

Have you noticed that the masses aren’t demonstrating in Gaza? As usual, the real news is what isn’t in the papers. There have been a few tepid sounding demonstrations in other places, but not in Gaza, where he lived, preached, and died. And they reportedly only managed to mobilize a few thousands for demonstrations in the West Bank (it was probably even less than that). The masses would be out on the streets in Gaza in the tens of thousands, if they were so outraged by the killing of their beloved spiritual leader. They’ve managed to get them out of their houses for far less in the past. And it shouldn’t have been a problem yesterday, Friday. People are off work and it’s easy to incite them in the mosques. They didn’t even bother with a riot during Friday prayers on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, even after the Imam was arrested for incitement. I hear they tried to arrange a mass march of the people on Erez Border Crossing at the north of the Gaza Strip, but no one came.

Maybe a lot of Palestinians are secretly relieved to see him go. Maybe they’re fed up and want it to finish already. Maybe they have long ago stopped believing the promises of people like Yassin that Israel is close to breaking point.

At the moment, male Israelis I know are mainly aggravated that the pressure is on for the Basketball EuroLeague Final Four tournament not to take place in Tel Aviv as planned, but in very safe Moscow. And who made the most noise about not coming to Israel? The team from Valencia, Spain, who refused to come for a game against Maccabi Tel Aviv on Thursday. A popular Israeli sports commentator quipped that they didn’t want to come to Israel because there were no direct flights and it meant them having to go through MADRID!

Annoying, yes, but that should be the worst of our problems.

Update: More on these issues by Meryl Yourish, who has a comments option at the moment. She doesn't mean to keep them, so if you have something to say, this is the time.