The Blame-Game Blitz After the Truck-Ramming Attack in Jerusalem
On Sunday evening, when the details of the allegedly Islamic State-inspired truck-ramming attack in Jerusalem that afternoon were beginning to take shape, I received a phone call from a friend in distress.
Unlike so many of our peers that day, neither she nor I had been directly affected by the terrorist atrocity, in which an IDF officer and three officers’ course cadets were murdered and another 15 wounded. And she was not suffering from a common form of anxiety experienced when the loved ones of others are killed or injured.
”I have had it with leftists,” she said.
Since she is not exactly a rabid right-winger herself — and though I was deeply upset by the tragedy I had just spent hours reading and writing about — I laughed. What, I wondered, brought this on?
She told me that she first learned of the attack from a mutual friend whom she encountered while out running errands.
”The blood of the victims wasn’t even dry yet, and the only thing that woman had to say was, ‘It’s so awful; now Bibi will go up in the polls.'”
Again I chuckled, this time at my friend’s naive outrage at something I have come to take for granted: Whenever something bad happens, including a rainstorm at an outdoor wedding, blame Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and bemoan his electoral popularity.
But it is not only members of the Israeli Left who respond to every ill that befalls the Jewish state by bashing it and its leaders. My compatriots on the Right have a similar tendency, albeit from the opposite point of view.
Sunday’s attack gave expression to the latest example of this phenomenon on both sides of the political spectrum.
To understand the way Israelis — as all human beings — automatically translate every event into the language of their ideology, one has to review the facts of the truck-ramming, as they have unfolded, based on security camera footage, eyewitness accounts and other evidence collected at the scene.
At approximately 1:30 pm, a large group of cadets on a weekly educational outing that is part of their training to become officers arrived at the Armon Hanatziv promenade and began to disembark from their buses.
The terrorist truck driver sat in wait while the young men and women in uniform descended onto the curb and adjacent grass. He then stepped on the gas and plowed into them. Many said later that initially they thought they were witnessing a car accident, but realized it was an attack when the perpetrator put his vehicle in reverse and slammed into them again.
One of the guides, a civilian who had served in a combat unit, was knocked down, but pulled out his pistol and proceeded to shoot the terrorist. He said that though he emptied his magazine, the driver continued to move. Meanwhile, dozens of soldiers fled, and others took cover, as they were instructed to do by another guide.
Before the proverbial dust had settled — or, as my friend put it, “before the blood was dry” — Facebook and Twitter lit up with video clips, accompanied by comments and arguments about what had transpired. The print and broadcast media were frantically playing catch-up, competing to reveal the “truth” of the whole episode, quoting sources from the government, security forces and medical first-responders.
Yes, while the parents of the 20-year-old victims were hysterically making their way to Jerusalem, either to identify bodies or reach hospitals, the rest of the country was engaged in ongoing commentary and debate.
On the Left, as my friend can attest, there were those who cynically saw the attack as a boost to the Right, which garners more support when Arabs kill Jews. Others on that side who believe that Palestinian terrorism is the result of Israeli “occupation,” held the government responsible for failing to secure a two-state solution.
On the Right, there were those who criticized the soldiers for running away, rather than cocking their rifles and doing the job that their uniform requires. Others defended the soldiers, attributing their seeming cowardice to the fear instilled in them that using their weapons could lead to lawsuits. This position was based on the idea that the case of IDF Sgt. Elor Azaria — convicted last week of manslaughter for killing a subdued terrorist — was responsible for “trigger reluctance” on the part of the soldiers witnessing the truck-ramming attack.
What got lost in all the noise was the carnage itself, as well as the reality — for which Netanyahu is neither responsible nor has a magic formula to prevent — of global jihad.
There is a time and a place for investigations, interrogations and even the hurling of accusations. But first and foremost, let us mourn the dead, help the wounded heal and direct our wrath at the death-worshipers who slaughter innocent people and are glorified by their inciters for doing so. Remember: While we were engaging in a blame-game blitz after the attack, directing our anger at Netanyahu and the IDF brass, residents of Ramallah and Gaza were honoring their own leaders by dancing in the streets and distributing candy.
Ruthie Blum is the managing editor of The Algemeiner.