An undertone of acceptance, or at least a sense of understanding, found their way into reports on the assassination attempt that took place in Ariel earlier this week. A boy whose parents belong to the Messianic Jews movement opened a package that was placed near his door because he thought it was a Purim basket. An explosive device blew up and gravely wounded him.
The police discounted the possibility of a Palestinian attack or the settling of scores between criminals. It tied the assassination attempt to the religious beliefs of family members. Neighbors noted that the family has been holding odd ceremonies at home and the mayor was quick to clear his town of the terrible suspicion that a missionary sect got a foothold there.
News reports showed that the neighbors were more curious than they were shocked. It was clear that they sensed that harassing missionaries is a normal act. It should be condemned, but there is no reason to be surprised about it. One correspondent noted that a place with the presence of missionaries also has people who try to hurt them.
Indeed, acts of violence and hateful publications against missionaries or those suspected of preaching conversion to Christianity are common phenomena around here and stem from our historical memories. Missionaries, and particularly converted Jews, did terrible things to us.
Yet I am much more concerned by people who persecute those who present a hybrid of Judaism and Christianity and whose lifestyle and personal appearance have nothing that marks them as "others." We can turn to Nazi texts in order to understand why "others" who are very similar to us are perceived as more dangerous to the national entity than clearly marked enemies.
I recalled the shock that overcomes us every time we discover a gang of wild and neglected Jewish boys who identify themselves as Nazis. Aren't those who targeted the Messianic Jewish family also of this ilk?
Open market of ideas to competitionI also recalled an incident that happened in France. About two years ago, a young Jewish man called Ilan Halimi was tortured and murdered by criminals who hoped to blackmail his family. When they were captured, it turned out that they were also motivated by primitive anti-Semitism. They were led by a son of African immigrants who accepted the common belief that all Jews are rich and should be robbed.
France was shocked and all government ministers, headed by the president at the time, proceeded to pay a visit of condolences to the synagogue where the victim was eulogized. The Israeli press was impressed by the gesture, but at the same time its reports hinted to the common perception that anti-Semitism is a deeply rooted affliction in France and that such murders are a sort of cost paid by Jews living in the Diaspora.
In order to be sure that we are no less sensitive than the French, our internal security minister would do well to visit the injured boy.
I don't know who the would-be assassin was in this case, but we know that zealous ultra-Orthodox stand out among those who persecute missionaries. These people fail to understand that their violence is a sign of Judaism's weakness, rather than its strength. In a country where the life of gentiles is much tougher than the life of Jews and where a Jew cannot be forced to convert and cannot be tempted by promise that the gates of society will be opened to him if he does so, the market of ideas should be open to all competitors.
Jews who fear competition and resort to gangster-like tricks in order to deter their competition are apparently unsure of the quality of their merchandise. We thought that the Jewish State will free us of this fear, yet again it turns out that a prisoner cannot free himself; the prison is within the soul.