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The kidnapping: what you don’t know about ‘tremping’

By Tuvia Brodie
6/29/2014, 7:06 PM

Today is Sunday, June 29, 2014. This is day seventeen since three Jewish boys disappeared.

Two of the boys are only sixteen years old. One is nineteen. All are students. They are not, as Hamas has claimed, ‘soldiers’. They are civilians. They are our children.

Two weeks have passed. We have heard nothing.

We are now into week three of waiting. How long must we wait? How long will the Arab community in the Hevron (kidnap) area support this ugly act of terror?

In Israel, we unite. We unite to pray. We turn to G-d because we need His help here.

When the kidnapping happened on June 12, 2014, the victims had been ‘tremping’. ‘Tremping’ is the Israeli word for ‘hitch-hiking’.

The boys had been standing in the dark beside a highway in an outlying community—where it is very, very dark at night—looking for a ride home from passing drivers. Some who heard that the boys had been kidnapped while ‘hitch-hiking’ accused the boys—the victims—of their crime: if the boys hadn’t been hitch-hiking, the argument went, they wouldn’t have been kidnapped. It’s their fault.

Articles appeared defending the boys’ behaviour.  For example, tremping, we read, is a way of life here in Israel. Because of irregular bus service to-and-from outlying communities, tremping is often a necessity, especially for those who have no car (“Op-Ed:  Why We Won't Stop Hitchhiking”,  Arutz Sheva, June 16, 2014).

For others, who have multiple jobs and no car, tremping is the only way to rush between those jobs. Sometimes, people tremp because they cannot squeeze their lives to match (irregular) bus schedules (“Yes, I'm Still Tremping!”, Arutz Sheva, June 27, 2014). 

But those who would accuse the victims persist: the boys (and their parents) are at fault. They caused this mess and the consequent trauma we all feel. They shouldn’t have been hitch-hiking at night.

But the truth is, the boys’ behaviour is not the problem. Their parents are not the problem. Dark highways aren’t the problem. The problem, we must never forget, is Arab terror (ibid). To follow the logic of those who would accuse the boys, we should not tremp because we might be kidnapped; but neither should we travel on buses--because Arabs might blow them up. We shouldn’t drive a car on the road because Arabs might stone us. We shouldn’t walk in Jerusalem because an Arab might hit us with a baseball bat (which happened the night of our holiday, Shavuot).

But if we behave this way, we allow the terrorist to control our lives. We would, ultimately, allow terrorists to push us into a ghetto (ibid), to do G-d-knows-what to us.

We should not demonize the Jewish victim. We should accuse the demon terrorist.

Until we do that, you should understand that there is another side to this tremping issue, one you might not know about. I certainly didn’t know about it—and neither did my wife and daughter.

Last week, my wife and one of my daughters travelled by bus to an outlying community. Because bus service is minimal to-and-from that area, my wife and daughter were careful to check and re-check bus times.

They left Jerusalem on time. They arrived at their destination—a bus stop alongside the highway.

When, later in the day, they returned to that highway to wait at a bus stop for their return to Jerusalem, they discovered a problem you have probably haven’t read about:

-several buses scheduled to stop at that bus stop never showed up.

-several buses stopped, but the bus drivers, while headed to Jerusalem, would not allow anyone—including a mother with four small children, and soldiers—to board the bus.

-several buses, with seats clearly empty, didn’t pull over at all to pick up passengers. They drove by without stopping.

The only reason my wife and daughter got onto a bus—the last one for the night—was that my daughter (G-d bless her) pushed onto the bus and began to yell at the driver, ‘let us on!’ When the driver refused, she continued, ‘my mother (this doesn’t translate well into English) is a senior citizen and she needs to go home! It’s not appropriate to treat her like this! That lady over there has four small children and we have all been waiting here for two hours. That’s not appropriate! You cannot leave without us!’

The bus driver told her, ‘there’s no place for anyone on the bus.’ My daughter replied, yelling even louder, ‘what are you talking about? There are empty seats in the back of the bus-- and standing room, too!’

The bus driver relented. My wife and daughter boarded the bus. The mother with four small children boarded. So did the soldiers.

Do you understand now why people in Israel tremp?