Thursday, March 12, 2015

When The Mayor Takes Action

Now this is definitely something that I couldn’t see Mayor Nutter doing in the streets of Philadelphia. In fact, I don’t know if I could see any mayor in a major city in the United States doing this in their respective streets. I guess this is one of those situations that demonstrates the clear difference between Israel and the United States and Israelis and Americans in particular.

Last month I was skimming through my news feed and came across an article in Haaretz that immediately got my attention. As it turns out, the Mayor of Jerusalem (a city and a place close to my heart), Nir Barkat, was driving down the road when he suddenly asked his bodyguard to stop the car. He had seen a Palestinian terrorist (and that is what he is) stabbing a Jewish man at Tzahal Square. In the end, the bodyguard pulled his gun causing the teenager to drop the knife and the Mayor wrestled the madman to the ground, subdued him, and offered aid to the victim until police arrived on the scene.

As I stated above, the thing that struck me the most when I came across this article is just how different this kind of story is to someone reading it in the United States. I couldn’t see a mayor from a major city in the states taking action in the same way. Additionally, even if they would simply make a call having seen a similar attack, the need to promote their actions would be quite evident. There would be a much more grandiose gesture following the incident not a simple reflection such as the one Barkat gave in the Haaretz article:

"My bodyguard and I jumped straight out of the car, he drew his weapon and together we caught the terrorist until police arrived, and we took care of the wounded, who, happily, was only lightly wounded."  

Barkat said that when he and his bodyguards faced the assailant, he threw down his knife.

"This too is part of our life in Jerusalem. It's clear that if he would have looked to continue stabbing he wouldn't have been alive now. But he threw the knife away," Barkat said. 

The second half of that quote is particularly striking… “This too is part of life in Jerusalem.” Unfortunately, that is a reality in the holy city and one that continues to be a pervasive certainty in the streets throughout Israel. Terrorism is still a reality and the cause of such incidents continues to be muddled in the pages and reports that are disseminated around the world. It is a crisis that needs to be addressed with more than just talks and 10 year plans.

The means by which the State of Israel is portrayed continues to be inaccurate which has perpetuated protests and attacks throughout the world. Israel as a whole and Jerusalem in particular are a place of peace in a region obsessed with war and Jihad. Until the world accepts the reality that Israel is a peaceful state, terrorism will continue to taint that reality in the streets of Jerusalem.

Thankfully, the Israeli people are some of the most resilient that the world has ever known. They are the reason that Israel remains strong in the face of international accusations and terrorism in the streets. To those leaders, IDF soldiers, and all those who live in the holy land I end this post with two simple words… Thank you!