Thoughts on Terror from Jerusalem

terror2Everyday I live side by side with arabs, on the bus, in line, at work, in class… Human beings just like me…a person is a person is a person. A person is not politics, but created in the “Image of God”. But the latest wave of terrorist attacks have placed me in a very difficult moral dilemma. Terrorism is terrifying because you don’t know when it will happen, it springs up randomly, and it seeks to kill without discretion…its possibility looms over every moment. Terror terrorizes, its casualties are usually relatively few, but its ripples spread out to every corner of society, causing mass fear and panic. You don’t know when it will happen. And you have no defense. Terrorism opens an abyss of doubt and suspicion of the other. The fact is that while I know that my arab neighbors are human beings just like me, I can’t deny the haunting political reality that we both live in. I know, that in a war, chances are high that we would stand on opposite sides. I know that there is a chance, no matter how large or small, that at any moment, “they” could become my enemy, and attack. This situation creates moral agony. How do I relate to each individual as a world in themselves and at the same time not close my eyes to the larger context of our interaction? How do I not deteriorate into indiscriminate fear of the other without risking my own safety? How do I retain my humanity without putting my physical/spiritual life in danger? Every interaction is an opportunity to make peace, but the scary thing about terrorism is that you don’t know if your neighbor will take the same opportunity to instead make war. And the not knowing, the doubt, is the most crippling part. I don’t want to doubt my neighbor, I want to love them as unique revelations of God, but to love my neighbor as myself, I must first love myself, and to do this I must be alive. How do I stay alive without losing every reason to live? How, in this situation, can one truly serve God?


Sarah is a resident of Jerusalem and a community activist. She organizes the monthly Women's Gatherings while studying for her MA in Philosophy at Hebrew U. Sarah and her cat Yiftach are social media managers.

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  1. themiddle

    11/11/2014 at 1:48 pm

  2. A.F. Kaplan

    11/11/2014 at 2:36 pm

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