Our Noiselessness is Killing Us

Ten years back, when I immigrated to Israel and chose to live in a community in the Judean hills, I took a three-day course in road safety and awareness. This course, recommended to new immigrants as well as first time residents in Judea and Samaria, was all about surviving terror attacks on the roads.

We learned to be ever vigilant – no day dreaming or planning the evening’s dinner menu while driving. Despite the myriad of untruths regarding “apartheid roads” in Judea and Samaria, we share the roads with our Palestinian neighbors. Except for the ones that lead directly into their villages – those are off-limits to Jews. Unless we have a death wish.

The course included a good number of strategies to prevent becoming a victim of a drive by shooting, in addition to what to do when your car is pummeled with rocks or hit by Molotov cocktails and how to deal when coming upon burning tires blocking the road, which also goes hand in hand in avoiding an ambush.

Of course, it was all valuable life-saving advice and unfortunately, given reality, very much a necessity. I even had the opportunity to implement one of the lessons that dealt with burning tires. Yes, you drive right over them and keep driving. Don’t stop to take selfies.

What struck me, however, was the normalcy of taking that course. I didn’t think twice about it. It simply made sense and just part of dealing with the routine of terror.

I don’t think I was living in Israel for more than 3 months before attending my first funeral for a terror victim, stabbed multiple times by two Arab terrorists who waited for him in ambush in the woods just a short distance from his home. His name was Erez Levanon, HY”D, a 42 year-old father of three from the Gush Etzion community of Bat Ayin.

Since then, there were many more funerals and many more shiva visits to pay. And, while I personally never suffered a direct hit from rocks or Molotov cocktails while driving, there were a few close-calls, and several of my friends weren’t as lucky as I. While terror attacks occur throughout the country, at least in Judea and Samaria knowing a victim personally is never more than once removed.

But, we go on. We continue to live life. We are determined not to give in to despair. We continue to build and rebuild.

One can say that is the strength of our people, that we’re resilient, durable and rise above adversity. And I’ll tell you from my own intimate experience, there is no people more resilient than the Israeli residents of Judea and Samaria and of the now gone communities of Gush Katif in Gaza. Yet, one can also say we adapt. Perhaps, a tad too well.

Almost a year ago, I moved temporarily to Jerusalem, just in time for the car-ramming/daily stabbing intifada, unleashed heavily upon the capital, but spread throughout Israel as well, thanks to the incitement of Abbas, the leader of the Palestinian Authority, and his henchmen.

At first, this new reign of terror took a toll on businesses in Jerusalem. The nightlife took a beating. In defiance, I made sure to go out every night and encouraged others to do the same. Even if it was just to take up a table in any establishment and have a coffee. I was also happy to note that my teenaged daughter and her friends didn’t curtail their social life. Sure, we showed our strength in the face of adversity. We kept on living our lives. We adapted.

But, there’s something wrong with that.

We shouldn’t merely adapt. Because after a while of living under the threat of terror, and it’s been one hell of a long while at that for Israel, to adapt is anything but a show of strength. It is compliance. Passive compliance.

It should no longer be a matter of “not giving in to despair”. It should be a matter of “we’re not going to take it anymore”. If we want a change in the status quo, we have to make noise. That’s how it works in a democracy, no? After a while, it is our noiselessness that is killing us.

The other day, I went to what I thought would be a demonstration against the status quo of daily terror, in front of the Prime Minister’s house. No more than 30 people were there. Most of them high school girls. That just doesn’t cut it.

Hundreds of thousands of our people, if not more, should be demonstrating at the Knesset, showing support for our government to take necessary measures against our enemies. In light of the predictable international outcry that occurs whenever we defend ourselves, our government leaders need to know that the people would back them in taking strong and resolute steps. Steps that include publicly identifying the PA leadership as the source of terror, just as we did with the Hamas in Gaza, and use every means to put an end to it. Stoic endurance has run its course. Enough with adapting. The time to find our collective voice is way past overdue.


Zahava Englard Shapiro

Originally from New York, Zahava was lost in New Jersey for several years until found over a decade ago roaming the hills of Judea in Gush Etzion. An author of two books, “The Gilboa Iris” published by Gefen and “Settling for More: From Jersey to Judea” published by Devora. Her favorite quote is: “If it’s not controversial, why bother?” (Yes, the quote is her own.) She is a mother of four, with two sons having proudly served in IDF combat. Zahava is presently residing in Jerusalem, continues to publish articles for various online publications and is currently working on "the great Israeli novel."

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