Afternoon Tea in Jerusalem Blog

Life in Israel

Israeli commercial life and society

In addition to my work as a business coach, one of my interests is blogging about life in Israel. This is a country full of contrasts – over eight million citizens living in an area the size of Wales. You can see snow and the lowest place on the globe in the same day. Although surrounded by geopolitical extremes, Israel has achieved a decade of high economic growth. My work brings me in contact with an array of new companies, exciting technologies and dynamic characters. Sitting back with a relaxing cup of strong tea (with milk), you realise just how much there is to appreciate in the Holyland. Large or small operations, private sector or non profit, my clients provide experiences from which others can learn and benefit.

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Jerusalem to Tel Aviv: How the anger shifted

If I normally write about business in Israel and primarily in Jerusalem, the events of last night force me to discuss what happened in Tel Aviv.

Two young Palestinians, dressed up very elegantly, ordered coffee at the popular Max Brenner restaurant in the trendy Sarona market complex in central Tel Aviv. Nothing wrong in that, except that once they had calmly finished their drinks, they slew at point blank range four fellow customers. The security camera captured the massacre.

Since the Autumn of last year, Israel, and particularly Jerusalem, has been the subject of a number of horrendous terrorist incidents. They typically involved random stabbings of innocent civilians.

However, the attack in Tel Aviv has created a new atmosphere, one that has captured the viewpoint of just about all Israelis, whatever their political or religious take. After the anguish, a feeling of deep, deep, deep anger has rushed to the surface. So what was different about last night?

  1. As the video graphically depicts, the attack was cold blooded, just like recent events in Paris and in Brussels.
  2. Despite the comparisons to events in Europe, the BBC, CNN and many others have not been able to call the slaughter a terrorist incident. Somehow, when it comes to Israel, the country is judged differently to 199 other countries around the globe. That stinks of something very putrid.
  3. The attack took place in Max Brenner boutique chocolate restaurant. This chain has many branches overseas and has often been the target of calls to boycott Israeli products. With a very bitter taste of irony, the protest posters include an image of a menacing Israeli soldier, carrying a machine gun……………horrifically similar to the one used by the Palestinians in the attack. Such hypocrisy.
  4. Once the incident ended, the injured were taken to hospital and treated on the basis of ‘most serious come first’. And that included one of the terrorists. Pictures available on the net clearly show the man being treated by a team of Jews and Arabs, despite the carnage the patient had caused barely an hour beforehand. Yes, Israeli medical treatment does not discriminate, but then you have to ask why no Jews are treated in Palestinian hospitals.
  5. Meanwhile, condemnations have come in from the Secretary General of the UN, Prime Minister Cameron and others. Staff from the Australian embassy in Tel Aviv visited Sarona this morning in support of the families who have suffered. And yet….

And yet… Gaza and in the West Bank, sweets were handed out in celebration of the killings. One of the largest groups in the PLO described the incident as a “natural response“! Hamas praised it and President Abbas has remained silent.

It sickens. It hurts. It is gut-wrenching. However, for me this is not the cause of my anger.

What truly annoys me is that in another day or in another week, the EU and Obama and others will put this ‘shooting spree’ to one side and call on Israel to make compromises towards peace. As in the past, predictably no such demands or pressure will be asked of the Palestinians.

Remember Paris? Recall Brussels airport? Did the politicians in Europe respond by offering the assailants boxes of chocolates (from Max Brenner, sic?). Israel is treated differently. That is morally repugnant, and this attitude represents a threat to my family.

So I will not apologise for standing up and shouting, very very loudly: I refuse to accept it. Terror needs to be fought, not appeased. World diplomats really must think again, before the attacks spread beyond the capitals of Paris and Belgium.

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