In her moving Times of Israel essay, Rachel Danziger Sharansky shares the many emotions stirred from simply walking down the street in terror-stricken Israel: fear, shame, and a blessed discomfort she is trying to hold onto for the sake of her humanity. And so the terrorists don’t win.
It’s me, the empty street, and an Arab passerby.
And the feelings, so familiar from previous seasons of terror, are coursing through me again.
First, wariness: Could this guy be a terrorist?
Then, worry: Should I cross the street? Should I push my kids behind me?
He passed us. Nothing happened.
And throughout it all, the shame. For here I am, suspecting a fellow human being of the worst. He may be a wonderful person. Under different circumstances, we might discover that we both like science fiction, or country music, or extra milk in our coffee. We might even become friends. But right now, here in this street of a terror-stricken city, all I can see is a potential threat. I see that he is an Arab, and I am afraid.
And I hate this feeling.
. . . Terror attempts to strip away our humanity and values, reduce us into nothing but the desire to survive. Once we are in survival-mode, we become easy prey to the terrorists’s demands. After all, what’s a small matter like national pride, faith, or sovereignty, when our lives are endangered?
Alternatively, our desire to survive can eliminate our humanity. Attack all Arabs, say some. Make them all pay. Why worry about innocence and guilt when our lives are on the line?
I don’t want to give up either my faith or my humanity. Both options will make the terrorists the victors, and me, their vanquished battle-ground.
And so, as I walk the streets of Jerusalem, I weep for the suspicions that separate us. And in my grief, I find my humanity, and hold on.