‘Revenge won’t bring back our boys’, read the banner above the rally called by Tag Meir, Light Tag, in Jerusalem yesterday. ‘This gathering brings me hope’, said one of the speakers. Thousands of people, mostly young, both secular and religious, had come together to mourn, and to express their commitment to peace and tolerance in spite of everything. It takes courage and conviction to say ‘No to racism’, when three young Israelis have just been murdered. Yet the message could not be more timely or important. Tag Meir has repeatedly organised counter-rallies in response to calls of hatred.
A young man stopped me: ‘What’s that sticker say?’ he asked. I replied that it was about the importance of neighbourliness. ‘Not when they’re Arabs’, he said. ‘What do you suggest as an alternative?’ someone called after him as he walked off.
But there was little heckling at the gathering; there were few angry calls. Elsewhere this has not been the case. Anger is understandable, but the truth remains that hate leads only to more hate, and injustice to more injustice.
Meanwhile, the question of who murdered Muhamad Abu-Chadyar, who was seized from his home two days ago remains unsolved. It may well be a vendetta killing. But there is a fear that it could be an act of revenge by a Jewish splinter group. Yediot Acharonot this morning reported the words of Rabbi Yitzhak Ginzburg, who allegedly described ‘revenge as a natural phenomenon’. In profound contrast stand the words of Rachel and Avi Fraenkel, the parents of Naftali who was buried on Tuesday: ‘There is no difference between blood and blood and murder is murder. No murder is justified.’ Demonstrations, burning tyres, threats of the third Intifada are among immediate responses.
There were many at the Tag Meir rally for whom teaching and struggling for a just and equal society are their daily bread, and some who regularly put themselves on the line for these values. I respect and admire them.
It was deeply moving to sing the Hatikvah quietly together.