“There are soldiers everywhere. Something is going on,” she said with a bit of alarm in her voice. I shook the sleep off and looked out the window. Friday nights the streets are normally full of young people socializing. But that night, we just saw patrols of soldiers in full combat gear running up and down. The Army was going house to house, telling everyone to stay inside and lock their doors.
We found out later there was a suspected terrorist in the area.
This does not happen regularly, but it has happened before. That’s life in Gush Etzion, part of the “disputed” territories.
Terrorists have committed murders and attempted murders here. It’s a relatively small place. People know one another. When a terrorist kills someone, we often have some connection. A teacher in my kid’s school and a student from my daughter’s high school have been among the victims.
So although daily life is not characterized by open warfare, most people who live here carry guns and know how to use them. In the United States, the issue of guns is political. Here, it’s practical.
An article in the Washington Post described an event attended by both Jews and Arabs. The reporters referenced the fact that some of the Jews carried weapons:
The settlers were very welcoming, but they were armed.
Among the attendees were an Israeli army general and the top commander of the Israeli national police in the West Bank. The Israeli forces, and some of the civilian settler guests, arrived with rifles slung over their shoulders or pistols jammed into holsters on their belts.
The Palestinians, of course, were not armed.
The article had referred to the dynamic of the event as “asymmetrical.”
It should be. Because it is Jewish towns here that have gates, not Arab ones. Jewish schools have armed guards, not Arab ones. We have security patrols in our streets. The Arabs do not.
That’s because Jews do not sneak into Arab towns and murder 13 year old girls in their beds. Jews do not ambush cars on the road and murder Arab parents in front of their children. Jews do not stab Palestinian girls on their way to school. There may have been a few rare cases of Jewish terrorism elsewhere in Israel, but not in the Gush.
Life here is “asymmetrical.” We try and live and coexist with people, some of whom try and kill us.
And that’s why many Jews carry guns.
Most media coverage paints life out here as a constant battle. That’s not true and I appreciate the rest of the article which described important efforts at coexistence being made here. I wish there was more coverage like it.
But as long as there are terrorists and Palestinian leaders who laud them as heroes — Jewish residents must carry guns. If a reporter wants to cover the facts that Jews are armed, they have a responsibility of explaining to their readers why they are, and Palestinians are not.
This article originally was featured in the Times of Israel.