Many of us remember the first Intifada – a preplanned mass “uprising” which released a wave of violence throughout Israel. It was conveniently…oh so conveniently, blamed on the fact that a Jew dared to visit the Temple Mount, Israel’s holiest site and the place where Arabs regularly, five times a day, turn their backs to face Mecca. The Jew was Ariel Sharon, that’s true, but if he had not gone, it would have been something else.
The Second Intifada was even more violent and deadly. Rocks and firebombs were replaced by suicide bombers and horrible, brutal, barbaric attacks throughout the country.
We’ve been threatened with a Third Intifada almost since the last one ended…though if it ever really ended, few can tell. I often tell people that the Third Intifada is sort of like Israel’s War of Attrition – not officially a war, not officially an intifada, but an endless stream of deadly attacks.
Those who officially proclaim the Intifada in this absurd world in which we live in, have never made it official and so we have been stuck in that middle ground where someone counts between 2 and 3 but doesn’t really want to get there…and so they count…”two and one quarter…two and two fifths…two and three sevenths, two and four ninths…um…two and five elevenths…”
And yet, as many of us know, the Third Intifada has definitely come to Israel but has been given a different name. It is being called the Silent Intifada.
Jews know a lot about silence. It nearly killed us all just a few generations ago and we have been fighting it ever since. We are used to the silence of the western world, of the Europeans who fear angering the growing number of Muslims in their midst and the Americans who are prisoners of a government that cares almost as little for them as it does for Israel.
But this Silent Intifada is even more nefarious because it also involves silence here in Israel, by those who should know better. It began years ago, when a rocket that hit an empty field became an insult, rather than the act of war it was.
It involves the silence of the security forces, limited to helpless gestures such as videotaping rock attacks rather than responding as any normal security force elsewhere in the world would when faced with a similar threat.
In involves the silence of the politicians – perhaps for different reasons, but wrong nonetheless.
At the highest level, the silence is a sad acknowledgement that the world really doesn’t care about Jews and Israel, so why discuss the vast majority of potentially deadly attacks that are stopped before injury. The rock that doesn’t hit; the firebomb that thankfully was thrown at a protected car. The bus that was hit but the driver managed to maintain control and get his passengers to safety.
The rocket didn’t hit the school, only the yard. The driver wasn’t seriously injured and the car can be repaired. The light rail in Jerusalem was only damaged, no one was hurt, so please, let’s not talk about it. Don’t mention the tear gas that was thrown, the Arab that stabbed a guard.
We have to mention that little Chaya Zissel Braun was murdered, but we’ll rush to put it in context. We’ll talk about the general calm, the relative calm, the returning calm and the calm we have to work for. We’ll talk about potentials – potential agreements, potential ceasefires, potential dreams…potentially fatal for those silly enough to believe that silence can drown out the rhetoric, the hate.
The Silent Intifada is perhaps the most dangerous yet because, for the first time, loyal Israelis who genuinely love Israel, like the Mayor of Jerusalem, heads of security and police, and even the Prime Minister of Israel, are taking part in it.
Violence will win, if those who have the power to speak, choose silence. It was wrong in 1939 and it is wrong in 2014.