Perched high on the terrace — the merpeset — on this glorious day in Jerusalem, our most glorious place, I watch. I especially observe the small children, so loved, so well taken care of, as they head across the street to the immaculate park and playground. There they are protected by large tarps that keep the fierce Israeli sun from beating down on their skin. Indeed. These children are cherished, and they grow like beautiful flowers, until they are fully in bloom. Only then do they become chayalim, soldiers. In the military there are no protective tarps or protective parents. There is duty. There is obligation. And, of course, there is danger.
But in reality, life here has danger at every unthreatening turn. This week has been bad. Very very bad. A father and husband has lost — no no no! Wrong word. Not lost! They were not misplaced — his wife and two daughters. They all were dearly loved, and they were brutally and senselessly murdered. They will never be found. Those daughters will never bring him grandchildren and joy as he had every right to expect. He will never find pleasure in sitting on his merpeset with his devoted wife as they grow old together. Never is not a long long time! Never is forever.
An Italian tourist, a young man in his 30s, meandering along the Tel Aviv beach promenade, is deliberately struck down and killed instantly. He arrived in search of a vacation.
There have been rocket attacks from Gaza. The Lebanon border, where our grandson serves, has become a hotbed yet again.
I know that as an elder, I should know that this is life and man strives to kill his fellow man. It’s naive of me to wonder why. Yet that’s what I do.
I am always struck, in America, when there is a mass killing, say of innocent schoolchildren, why the reporters always ask for the motive. Am I crazy or are those reporters? What do they mean by a motive? Could there be any good motive for shooting children, little kids, the treasured, adored children and grandchildren of ordinary, average folks? What possibly could be an acceptable motive for destroying lives? What possible reason could satisfy the reporters’ questions? The answer is that there is no answer. There is no reason.
The reality is that there is danger here, in this place we call our holy land, on the borders and beaches and everywhere else, and there is danger in America and all other places as well. Looking for motives is a fool’s errand. What can we learn? Will it help us to alleviate the danger?
Danger is everywhere.
And our politicians lie. They promise us security and safety. They never deliver. They are mainly cowards, in America and in Israel. They make self-idolizing speeches. They make dishonest promises. I am almost sympathetic. The horror of terrorism is its very unpredictability.
And the news follows us everywhere. In Israel I can review it all just as I can in West Orange. It is grotesque. Man kills man (and yes, it is almost always man, not woman) and the papers dutifully report it. Breaking news, they call it. And you and I are always tuned in. Even on the plane!
In ages gone by, I loved to fly. I could sit and smoke my cigarettes and know I had nothing else to do. No chauffeuring or cleaning or cooking or childcare. Just sit back and relax. Even on the many trips when accompanied by my husband and kids, everyone was in their place, calm and safe. These were wonderful undisturbed moments.
And then came wifi and for a pittance I could tune in to my life and the news of this often-barbaric world. Yes, even on the airplane. Escape was no longer mine. Neither were the long-eliminated cigarettes.
So at 35,000 feet above the ground, I could hear about travesties and tragedies below. I could read about Trump, DeSantis, Clarence Thomas, and other undesirables like Marjorie, Lauren, Jim, and Matt, as well as, on the Mediterranean, the Netanyahus, including Yair and Sara, and Smotrich and Ben Gvir. All among many, who for unfathomable reasons choose power above principle, hatred above honor, and mayhem above all. Has mankind never learned to live in peace? Are not there abundant lessons throughout our bloody world history teaching us that the rewards of war and killing are unsustainable, brutal, and unworthy of each and every one of us? Have we ourselves not been observers or combatants in endless war? Name a place and there have been horrors there. Afghanistan. Iraq. Syria. Vietnam. Korea. Yemen. Cambodia. Israel. America. For God’s sake, why?
Often it is nation against nation. There are wars when civilians are starving and there is nothing to feed them, but the war machine carries on. For that there is money.
In present day America, there is a scourge of unprecedented proportion. Using the Constitution of the United States as a prop, members of our far less than Supreme Court decide the gun laws are essentially irrevocable, that our long dead forefathers, many of whom were slaveholders, immortalized the sin of the Second Amendment so that providing mass murderers of school children with military weapons was to be revered! Who is crazy here? Is this fiction? Could it be true? Our most powerful people are shielded by expensive security details. But our children, our very lifelines to the futures of our heritage, are sent to schools where they have been, and continue to be, targets of lunatics. And our politicians encourage the killers by giving them ongoing support for their weapons. The governor of Florida has now made it legal for gun holders to carry their weapons with them just about everywhere. They deny the dangers and insist it is a constitutional right for Americans to buy, carry, and use weapons. Or they make tiring and futile statements about mental health checks before gun purchases. The simple truth is that guns kill. Yet, no one at all wants to come to grips with it and remove guns from our lives. The weapons industry is clearly more important than the lives of our children and our law-abiding adults as well.
Are our lives not challenged enough by devastating viruses, climate warming, and natural calamities? Wouldn’t our world be a safer place if we could neutralize our most dangerous disaster, man himself?
Sadly, our political leadership, both in America and in Israel, is not the solution. It is the problem. It is almost impossible to understand how millions of citizens support the likes of Bibi and Donald. No. It is impossible! But, then again Hitler, Mussolini and their ilk also were able to garner support from millions. The dictators of today are the heirs of the dictators of yesterday. Yes, I know. But what can we do? That is what I don’t know.
Rosanne Skopp of West Orange is a wife, mother of four, grandmother of 14, and great-grandmother of three. She is a graduate of Rutgers University and a dual citizen of the United States and Israel. She is a lifelong blogger, writing blogs before anyone knew what a blog was!