Four young men murdered in a single weekend, one of them in Lod, one a citizen of Ramle. Their mothers are saying "Enough!"
Anas, 18 years old, was an outstanding student bound for university, who was active in his community. He was sitting in the passenger seat of his mother's car talking to his girlfriend when he was shot point-blank in front of his mother's eyes.
The Ramle man, 26-year-old Nur Ajaj, was found dead in a burned-out car. The other two, from Tel Sheva in the South and Kfar Kassem in the North, were both under 30, both shot with firearms.
While the police promise to deal with the problem of crime in the Arab communities, the murder rate has risen to an average of one every three days.
The question is: Is force and more force the way to deal with the problem? While the police are quietly admitting they have lost control and Knesset members point fingers and debate the introduction of covert military tools, could it be time to listen to the mothers of young men and women in these cities and towns?
They fear day and night for their sons and daughters, for good reason. But they are the ones who know where the killing starts and they are key to ending it. They can tell you exactly how many times the authorities have failed their children, how they have learned to distrust the police, how many times they have been failed by discrimination in the labor market, by a culture of poverty, by failures of their societies, communities and families. And it will take attention to all of these and more to begin to treat the problem.
"We demonstrated again and again, we begged them to stop the killing. Nothing changed," said one of the mothers. Now they are saying: "We are being made to bury our children." Their message is to all Israelis -- Palestinian and Jewish, Bedouin, Druze, immigrants and native born-Israelis: This is murder, pure and simple, and it cannot be tolerated in any part of society.
All four were shot. A good start would be saying "enough!" to the use of deadly weapons. Ridding the Palestinian communities of guns will not be easy, and it cannot be a short-term, flash-in-the-pan project. It will require the cooperation and public, outspoken support of the mothers who fear for their daughters' and sons' lives. It will require the support of community leaders. It will send a message that deadly violence is not the answer. It will not be enough, but it will be necessary.
A good start would be to investigate all the shootings thoroughly, collect evidence and ensure the killers pay for their crimes. Family members and others who cover up shootings must also pay a heavy price. The "license to kill" that some have enjoyed must be revoked. Again, mothers might have to overcome their fear of "collaborating" with the police, and work, instead, to build bridges with members of law enforcement and justice systems who are interested in getting the murders to stop. It will not happen overnight, and it will not be easy for either side to break down years of fear, mistrust, neglect, stereotyping and anger. It will not be enough, but it will be necessary.
The Yedioth Aharonot article tells the story of 11 of the 81 killed so far this year, and it tells the story of the families that have been shattered. Because that too is a start: Mourning the loss of every life that has been taken, reading about the mothers whose sons and daughters have been senselessly killed, one cannot remain immune to their sorrow and anger. We can and must join our voices to theirs: "Enough!"