Guns or Cake - You choose
. . . and the violence continues to rage. As we face a new intifada, this is indeed new and qualitatively different from any other intifada we have known. This time there seems to be little, if any, coordination between the attacks and the counter attacks. Reprisal has become a high value in this conflict. The random nature of what we are experiencing is unprecedented. Yes, we’ve had terrorist attacks and military reprisals before, but this time the situation has become much more complex. The parties are aligned against one another as terrorists and settlers, Jews and Arabs, Palestinians and Israelis, military and civilians in fluid configurations. There is even confusion of identities when Israelis wrongly identify their “own” as the enemy and violence erupts. With the support of government, Israeli citizens are increasingly taking matters into their own hands.
Ironic that in some parts of the world, gun control - meaning restriction - is a public issue. Here, gun control is also an issue but it is the opposite of what’s seen in other countries, as the public is encouraged to carry guns and restrictions on gun ownership are being relaxed so that the general populace can arm itself. As a “modern state,” relaxing gun ownership laws should cause us to at least examine the rule of law we live under in Israel. It’s become too easy to take the law into our own hands and today people are rushing out to buy firearms instead of looking for alternatives. Fear breeds violence. Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan recently said, “In light of the security situation, I have decided to make it easier to obtain a gun permit. . . . In recent weeks, many citizens helped the Israel Police neutralize terrorists carrying out attacks. Citizens trained in the use of firearms are a force multiplier in the struggle against terror,” he added.
When it comes to the arms trade, Israel is a major player on the international scene. Israel is numbered among the top ten countries worldwide as an exporter of heavy arms. Ha’aretz news reported in July 2015, “Israel tries to maintain ambiguity with regard to its arms sales and does not reveal the names of the countries to which it exports arms, arguing that doing so would lead to those countries cutting their strategic ties with the state.
Nevertheless, it is known that in recent years the extent of arms exports to African countries has been continually on the rise – from $107 million in 2010 to $318 million last year.”
With the proliferation of gun purchases and the increase in the arms trade, Israel has become a leader in the dark world of armaments. This should frighten any peace loving person, whether Jew or Arab, living in the region. It’s easier now than at any time in the past for Israelis to “defend themselves.” Tragically, paranoia and fear are ever constant on the streets of our cities. Everyone is wary and feelings are running at a fever pitch. Any supposed threat is immediately dealt with without question, frequently ending in death for one or more people.
There are small signs of hope in some parts of the country, with one hummus bar offering a 50% discount to any group of Jews and Arabs who sit together to share hummus in the restaurant. Groups of Israeli women have been baking cakes this week and passing pieces out to Arabs in some of the coastal towns. These are small measures but they show there is still a sane group of people who are willing to actively go against the mainstream.
As a person of peace, I choose to give away cake rather than buy firearms. Would that this would turn into a revival of kindness. Fear is a persuasive motivator and those who choose the cake over the gun are ridiculed and marginalized. For the sake of our own souls and for all the children of this land we must look for and continue to act with “radical acts of love” in the face of fear, hostility and violence.