In 2022, Israel is on track to have its most terror victims since the Intifada.
One of the primary research focuses in my lab at Hebrew University is the lifelong impact of trauma on children of war veterans. Certainly, the impact of trauma on the children of terror victims is similarly severe. On Thursday night, 16 children in Elad were viciously ripped from childhood to orphanhood.
And it is not only the direct victims. A close childhood friend was on Dizengoff Street during the Tel Aviv attack while visiting Israel; the ripples of trauma affect him and countless others.
We mourn, we cry, we daven. How much else can we do? In a democracy, we can vote, and we can own up to our mistakes. In the four rounds of elections that led up to the current government, I voted for two parties that are part of the current coalition and two parties that are part of the current opposition, each vote with its unique considerations. In the last round, I voted for a member party of the current coalition, and I believed there was a lot of value to moving away from the inertia-like force that came to characterize Bibi’s tenure, as well as in building a diverse coalition that bridged opposing ideological sectors. If for nothing else, simply so that partisan politics could be stymied and the government could focus on basic elements of common interests such as the economy and education.
But while it was a decent experiment at first, it’s an experiment that has failed miserably. There have been decisions by this coalition I’ve been bothered by, yet have stomached as part of the price of having such a diverse coalition. But murder is a red line. And it’s been crossed 19 times too many this year.
Last Wednesday, I hiked to Har Herzl from Har Nof for the national Yom Hazikaron ceremony. Coming in the back way (which two soldiers earlier on the mountain told me would not be allowed), I got a very different view than I’ve had the previous times I’ve been there (and a very difficult one from which to exit as a kohen). Among other unique elements of this perspective, I saw dozens of flower bouquets unceremoniously left behind by relatives of victims who left early and, seemingly, did not even see them as meaningful enough to be brought home. Bennett spoke quite powerfully and meaningfully, except that his words ring quite hollow against the background of 19 Israelis murdered within two months, three of them just hours after Yom Ha’atzmaut.
When I heard the Tefillah L’Shalom Hamedinah this past Shabbat and its words “V’taknem b’eitzah tovah milfanecha” (that Hashem should correct [Israel’s leaders] with good counsel), I prayed that Hashem give Bennett and his coalition MKs the conviction to own the failures of their government, whatever personal political price they may pay, before more Israelis are murdered on their watch. Most of all, I prayed that Hashem bring redemption to this world that so badly needs it.