Sometimes a mother has to take control.
When your kids are coming home on the bus from school every day accompanied by the blaring of emergency vehicle sirens, when stabbings, rammings and shootings have become a regular occurrence in the one quarter mile stretch of highway directly outside your community, when a majority of the children are suffering from some version of post-traumatic stress syndrome, and your neighbors have become numb to the grotesque situation, a mother has to act.
And that is why a mild-mannered, piano lesson-giving mother of five from the suburb of Alon Shvut, in the Gush Etzion neighborhood of southern Jerusalem, acted.
Rivka Epstein Hattin decided it was time for the mothers to unite.
Hattin began calling, emailing and texting friends and neighbors, many of whom have been struggling to find an answer which will stop the terrorism making their children’s lives miserable.
The response, Hattin said, from the IDF and the politicians has been to put more soldiers on the roads. But those soldiers can’t stop a determined terrorist from ramming or stabbing or shooting an innocent person, they can only limit the extent of the damage. It is an after-the-fact band-aid, not a preventive measure.
So the women decided to hold a rally in the Gush Etzion Junction, the central point of a harrowing number of terrorist attacks over the past year and a half. The rally was set for 4:00 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 23.
They decided to hold a rally of mothers (and supporters), to show that it is unacceptable for anyone to become numb to the deaths and attempted murders. They were calling out to the security forces, the army, the politicians, crying out: “you are not keeping our children safe and alive!”
Hattin told the JewishPress.com the day before the rally that last November, Dalia Lemkus, a 26 year-old woman from Tekoa, was stabbed to death by a terrorist just outside Hattin’s window. A few months earlier and just across the street, the three Israeli teenage boys were kidnapped and then murdered.
There is a free flow of traffic on Route 367 which passes Alon Shvut. That route then pours into the junction with the major highway 60. It is just around that junction, in front of Alon Shvut, where traffic frequently backs up and no one can move. There’s a gas station, a huge supermarket, and a restaurant just before the circle, all of which contribute to the traffic. It is a perfect place for an attack, if the attackers don’t mind being injured or killed. The pedestrians and the motorists become sitting ducks.
And, Hattin repeated many times, this rally, this gathering of mothers is about stopping terrorists. Everyone is vulnerable to the violence. In last week’s shooting attack which claimed the life of Yaakov Don HY”D, a resident of Alon Shvut and Ezra Schwartz HY”D, an 18 year old American student, an innocent Palestinian Arab, Shadi Arafa, was also shot and killed.
“We have Arab workers in Alon Shvut, Arab workers and patrons in the restaurant and in the Rami Levi (supermarket), they also need to be protected,” Hattin said.
“We need better security checks. We want a checkpoint here on this road, where so many of the attacks have taken place,” she continued, “the car with the terrorist who shot the people last week had Israeli plates, but he had a gun in the car – people are carrying huge knives with which to murder our children and neighbors,” Hattin explained.
“We do not want an Apartheid state, we want safety for everyone, safety from terrorism and from violence,” the rally’s organizer told the JewishPress.com.
“We are mothers coming together, we want solutions, we want Arabs and Jews to be able to co-exist, but right now our kids are being murdered and that has to stop,” Hattin said. “Apathy cannot be tolerated,” was a big part of the message they wanted to send.Lori Lowenthal Marcus