Dangers and Diversions
There’s more tension in the air than usual in Israel these days. Three danger spots come particularly to mind: (1) Nakba anniversary; (2) the opening of the US embassy; (3) the beginning of Ramadan. Each of these increases the risk of terrorist attacks and should make us all very nervous.
- Palestinians mark the anniversary of the establishment of the State of Israel on its secular date, May 15, i.e., tomorrow. Needless to say, they don’t celebrate but mourn. They call it nakba, The occasion may inspire some to take revenge on Israelis. We’re on terrorist alert.
- The fact that this year the United States will move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem makes the “catastrophe” especially poignant for Palestinians. An added reason for them to react in frustration and manifest it in violence.
- This week is also the beginning of Ramadan, the holy month of Islam when most Muslims abstain from food and drink during daylight hours. In view of the heat this time of the year and the often provocative sermons adherents hear in their mosques, some may be tempted to violence.
There’re three areas in Israel that are particularly vulnerable.
- The border with Gaza in the South has seen much violence in recent weeks. The victims have been Gazans but some burning kites have reached Israel and caused much damage. More of the same is expected during the coming weeks, especially on Fridays.
- The North is also vulnerable because of the confrontation between Israel and the Iranian military bases in Syria. Though the intention of the Israeli Defense Forces seems to be to destroy all the bases, the Iranians have already tried to retaliate. There may be more to come.
- This week the city of Jerusalem is also very much in the line of fire because of the move of the US embassy (see above) with an “in your face” ceremony today. Palestinians see it as yet another sign that their dream of the Jews going elsewhere one day soon isn’t going to materialize.
Probably everywhere else the threefold danger in at least three different parts of the country would be enough to make the population panic. Not in Israel. Though the security forces are very much on the alert, ordinary folk seem to be going about their business more or less as usual. Circumstances have provided three good reasons for legitimate diversions.
- Hapoel Beersheva are this year’s soccer champions. It’s their third victory in a row. The fans and the fans of the fans are very excited.
- But the whole country is excited with another diversion: Israel won the Eurovision song contest, which means that next year’s event will be held here. Despite all the other things that are happening, this has been the top news. 25 year-old Netta Barzilai, the very unconventional performer, has become an international star, the pride and joy of her country.
- Yesterday was Jerusalem Day, the anniversary of the conquest of Jerusalem in the Six Day War and the cause for much celebration every year, both public and private. The fact that the United States and soon other countries share in the celebration makes the day very special this time.
Jerusalem 15.5.18 Dow Marmur