Last week, an 18-year old boy went out to a movie at a Petach Tikva mall with two friends. They encountered a group of teens demanding a cigarette. The boy said he did not have one. The response came immediately: Blows to his entire body that prompted his hospitalization, putting his life at risk. The boy underwent three surgeries and regained his consciousness only five days later.
And it happened because he said he had no cigarette.
Two days later, the victim's father was interviewed. The interviewer referred to the attackers as "normative teens" from "good families." In the news, after the violent attacks, they are always described that way. Yet the truth is that a more fitting description would be "human animals devoid of morality and values" and perhaps also "violent whippersnappers." Describing them as "normative boys" is outrageous.
These teens were said to have been violent because they were intoxicated. Indeed, some studies show a link between alcohol and violence, yet holding alcohol fully responsible means going easy on the character of those who drink it.
My friends and I also like to drink alcohol. We drink a little vodka and suddenly we work up the courage to come up to a girl. A little beer, and we can talk to each other more openly and candidly. Yet alcohol never prompted within me a desire to beat up someone on the street. Not even when I wanted a cigarette.
These human animals don't beat up others only because they drink. They do it because of who they are; picking fights is their form of entertainment.
The father of the boy who was beat up said that his son and his friends studied in a class for gifted students. "They are good and innocent children. Geeks," he said. "There's no chance my son and his friends provoked the assailants. They don't even know how to fight."
More police, tougher sentences
My friends and I are also geeks. When we were teenagers, somewhere in the early 1990s, we too were chased through Tel Aviv's streets, for no apparent reason, by a group of thugs with a knife. We were fortunate; we managed to run away.
The violent event in Petach Tikva is just another incident in the statistics. Perhaps it's about education, or problems at home, or television, or boredom. Or maybe, as Bob Dylan sang, it's a matter of the world gone wrong.
Every Saturday morning I get online. The Internet is full of reports about Friday night's violence. Stabbing attacks near nightclubs, fights, violence, and murder. I can't forget Arik Karp. He too, as well as his wife and daughter, was victimized by particularly violent thugs. In that shocking case too, it was said that the thugs attacked because they were drunk. And the attackers' lawyers said on TV that the assailants express regret. How touching.
It has become scary to walk around here at night. It has become scary to sit at the beach at night. It has become scary to tell someone you have no cigarette.
What's happening here may only be changed by police that boost their presence on the streets, harsher legislation, and judges that impose tough sentences. Only once the punishment becomes truly deterring, these violent thugs may start to rethink whether it pays off to pummel that innocent geek they stumbled upon. They will know that such acts come with a heavy price.