How to treat strangers in need: Israeli version, Palestinian version
How to treat strangers in need: Israeli version, Palestinian version

Stephen M. Flatow, a vice president of the Religious Zionists of America, is an attorney in New Jersey. He is the father of Alisa Flatow, who was murdered in an Iranian-sponsored Palestinian terrorist attack in 1995.

How a society treats strangers in need can be very revealing.

Let’s start with the remarkable experience of Yossi Rosen, a volunteer for United Hatzalah, one of Israel’s two major emergency medical services. At 4:00 on Sundaymorning, when the rest of us were comfortably curled up in bed and not planning to get up any time soon, Rosen jumped out of his bed when he heard a Hatzalah radio alert about “a child with a head wound, at the Deir Balut Junction checkpoint.”

Rosen, it should be noted, is an evil racist colonialist warmongering settler. That’s because he resides in Peduel, a Jewish community located beyond the 1949 armistice line, in an area that has been part of the historic Jewish homeland for approximately 3,000 years. But this is no time for a history lesson! My point is only that in defiance of stereotypes, this “settler” didn’t ask whether the wounded child was Arab or Jewish. He raced to the scene to help.

Of course, as a resident of Peduel, Rosen knows that the residents of the nearby Arab village of Deir Balut are not always as neighborly as one would prefer. He knew terrorists could be in the vicinity of the injured child. So, as per his United Hatzalah training, he asked the dispatcher whether Israeli soldiers were on their way to provide backup to the medical responders. To his surprise, the dispatcher replied that it was the soldiers on the scene who had called for medical help.

A word about the Deir Balut checkpoint, to which Rosen was heading. Israel maintains 27 permanent staffed checkpoints in Judea-Samaria, a region of more than 2,000 square miles. Twenty-six of the 27 are situated at the border between Israel and the Palestinian Authority territories. Foreign citizens who want to enter Israel (such as Arabs from the PA areas) are briefly checked to make sure they aren’t carrying bombs, guns, or knives. Just like every American citizen is checked at every airport before entering some other country.

Incidentally, according to the extreme-left group B’Tselem, the Israeli Army also operates 16 “temporarily manned checkpoints,” which are—get this—“generally open for Palestinians to cross without being checked.” Israeli security forces are present only “sometimes.”

Well, it was tightly lucky for the parents in this case that Israeli soldiers were present when they showed up with their injured child last week. The parents were Muslim Arabs from Deir Balut. It’s interesting that instead of bringing their injured five year-old son to a Palestinian Authority hospital, they brought him to an Israeli checkpoint. I wonder what it is about corrupt Arab dictatorships that they all seem to have such poor medical care.

It turned out the boy’s condition was not life-threatening; he had suffered a seizure and fallen out of bed. The medic, Yossi Rosen, examined and treated him. He also soothed the frightened boy by giving him some candies that he happened to have in his pocket from a bar mitzva in his synagogue the day before. Imagine the scene: 4:00 in the morning, at an Israeli army checkpoint, a “settler” medic answering questions from curious Muslim parents about why Jews throw candy at a bar mitzvah boy. 

Unfortunately, not everyone responds so kindly when a stranger in need shows up. On Wednesday, two Czech women tourists driving to the Dead Sea accidentally made a wrong turn and found themselves in the Palestinian Arab village of Taqua, near Bethlehem. Not a big deal, right? After all, confused tourists make wrong turns all the time.

But if you enter a Palestinian Arab village, and you don’t look like a Palestinian Arab, apparently it is a very big deal. The locals in Taqua did not take kindly to “The Other.” They tried to stone the women to death.

When the attackers in Taqua began throwing rocks at the two women, they knew that they might kill them. After all, stoning has been a popular method of execution in the Middle East for thousands of years. And at least 15 Israelis have been murdered by Arab rock-throwers in recent years.

The two women were not brandishing weapons. They were not establishing a settlement. They were not persecuting Palestinian Arabs. Their only “crime” was that they did not look like Palestinian Arabs. They were strangers. And that was sufficient for the mob to attack.

The Czech women got lucky. Some Israeli traffic policemen in the vicinity had noticed them heading down the wrong road, became concerned, followed them, and rescued them from their would-be murderers.

You won’t read about either of these incidents in the New York Times. Neither J Street nor Jewish Voice for Peace will be issuing any press releases about them. Admitting that “settlers” are human would disrupt The Narrative. Acknowledging the violent bloodlust of Palestinian Arab rock-throwers would disrupt it, too.

I am capitalizing “The Narrative” because we have reached the point where the manner in which Israel’s critics describe events is so predictable and rigid that it has become an easily-recognizable phenomenon. The Jewish Left and much of the news media have an obsessive agenda: to create a Palestinian Arab state alongside Israel’s major cities and airports, no matter what the cost (to Israel), no matter what the risk (to the lives of Israelis).

The experiences of the medic from Peduel and the tourists from the Czech Republic represent a mortal threat to The Narrative.