The following words should be read with great care. Words, both spoken and typed, can kill. This is a red flag, raised a second before something that must not happen transpires. This concerns Hanin Zoabi, Bentzi Gopstein, and anyone who starts up fires in Israeli discourse.
Several weeks ago, ahead of the commemoration of 20 years to the assassination of prime minister Yitzhak Rabin, Yedioth Ahronoth printed a poll on the possibility of another political murder occurring. A large portion of Israelis think this is a possible scenario. Most of them are thinking about a crazy Jew who will try to murder a prime minister over his political views. Another Yigal Amir. There's no doubt the theoretic threat is frightening. Those who live and breathe history are always afraid of a civil war.
But another political murder becomes a highly-likely scenario when it includes Arab leaders like Hanin Zoabi. The signs are all there. If the Temple Mount is a ticking time bomb for the Middle East, Hanin Zoabi is a ticking time bomb for coexistence in the State of Israel.
"Challenging," that's the word used every time there is a petition to the Supreme Court against her running for Knesset. They ignore the fact she has turned into an explosive that endangers coexistence here, and herself.
This sensitive scenario has two components. The first is the Gopsteins, named after the director of the Lehava anti-assimilation organization. There are politicians in Israel who made their career off of Zoabi. She is always a convenient excuse for a headline. The problem is not the politicians, but their followers - and mostly the extremists among them.
The second component is Zoabi herself, and her fondness for provocation. This week, it was her speech of incitement in the Netherlands at a ceremony commemorating Kristallnacht. She accused Israel of ethnic cleansing, compared Israel to Germany in the days of the Nazi rise to power, and calls to fight terrorism - the murders done by the State of Israel. Those who invited Zoabi were looking for provocation. They knew it'll be in the papers the next day. That some people would protest, get angry. That Holocaust survivors would be offended. The Holocaust is a trauma that has been burned into the souls of most Jews around the world. A historical point of reference.
Zoabi is a professional - she rushes towards the edge, and pulls back seconds before falling into the abyss. She lives for the rage, breathes in the shocked looks on Israelis' faces, she's addicted to yellow journalism, shooting up the critical response her comments get. As time goes on, she creates more and more spectacles, and makes more and more contentious statements. It started on the Mavi Marmara, sailing alongside terrorists from the IHH - she enjoyed the headlines, but they eventually stopped. Then she claimed that terror attacks are legitimate, and that ended soon enough as well. Now she's in the Holocaust business. A well-oiled machine for provocation.
So there it is in black and white. The countdown has begun. At some point, there could be a provocation from Zoabi that might lead an extremist killer from the ranks of Lehava, or elsewhere, to commit a crime. The last straw that would break the camel's back. The end to any form of coexistence.
I hope the defense establishment is able to get to such an extremist before it is too late. I'm not so sure that they could. That's where the danger lies. The Gopsteins are dangerous and Zoabi is dangerous in her actions and in the potential of someone targeting her.
After this murder that might happen, the existing crisis between Jews and Arabs could potentially escalate into an all-out war. Not because Zoabi represents anyone in Arab society. It seems a great majority of Israeli Arabs, who seek to integrate, understand this well. It's also not because of her achievements in the Knesset (she has yet to pass a single law that does anyone any good), nor because of anything she did for her voters. It is because of the consequences.
The conflict would erupt because the State of Israel has yet to completely institutionalize its relationship with the Arab minority. When there is still no wide-reaching law enforcement in the Arab sector, when there are no rights and obligations that could help them identify with the state, when the chaos reigns supreme and the crime rates are constantly on the rise - a political murder could lead to an explosion.
Who's responsible? We are.
The Gopsteins are a malady that we have failed to properly deal with, and the Zoabis are a malady that we are not dealing with at all. They could already be searching for the potential murderer. He's somewhere among the thousands of talkbackers wishing death on Zoabi, ignoring the significance of her political existence.
Back to the allegory of the Temple Mount. Zoabi as a ticking time bomb. The restrictions on Jewish prayer on the Temple Mount contradict every democratic principle: The freedom of religion, equality before the law, and not to mention sovereignty. So why are there restrictions? Because of the strategic meaning - the potential danger. The threat. The rumors and blood libel the Palestinians are spreading about Israel.
If the Temple Mount needs camera monitoring and police presence, then the human time bomb Zoabi needs similar treatment. Removal and security so, heavens forbid, murder won't come to pass. The Supreme Court was wrong. It should've realized this before allowing her to run for Knesset, and now it's up to police to realize this. Democracy means finding a balance between different values. Zoabi's freedom of expression is not more sacred than preventing bloodshed.