Israel’s Murderous Summer: The Great Motivator?

In Crime in Israel on September 4, 2009 at 16:20

Fear: Is that why these girls are in a kicking class, rather than a chorus line?

Fear: Is that why these girls are in a kicking class, rather than a chorus line?

Had a little trouble following the news in Israel this summer? Maybe you were using the wrong search terms. This summer, “war”, “terrorism” and “bombings” were out. Murder was in. Here’s a short sample of this summer’s “low”lights:

Jul 4 | 17-year-old admits to Ashdod stabbing

Jul 12 | Olga Borisov convicted of killing 4-year-old son
Mother who drowned her 4-year-old son not charged with murder due to her unstable mental condition.

Aug 02: Two killed in shooting at Tel Aviv gay center
15 others wounded in shooting spree; police launch manhunt for gunman

Aug 18 | 22-year-old Tira man killed by masked gunmen
Attackers flee the scene in thirteenth murder this month

Aug 20 | Man killed girlfriend, her daughter
Police apprehend 59-year-old suspect… gag order lifted on gruesome case.

Aug 23 | Teen suspected of killing dad turns himself in
15-year-old who allegedly stabbed his father in family argument…

Aug 28 |Tenant admits to killing Jerusalem landlord
Police say Avi Dar, who had a record of violence, is refusing to answer questions regarding his motive.

Aug 28 | 9 suspects charged in Karp murder
3 indicted on suspicion of killing 59-year-old in cold blood

What do all these cases have in common? Not much. They all took place in Israel. They all happened in the summer. And everyone blames the police, not that anyone  wants to DO anything about it…  A recent survey showed that most Israelis agreed that our police are undermanned and overworked but, underpaid?  No way would they agree to raise  paltry police salaries .  Motivate good cops to remain cops  or attract more and better candidates to the field? What for? Teachers, does this ring a bell?

Anyway, during our School’s-In Happening at our headquarters in Jerusalem, an Arabic-speaking BBC news team showed up to film. Their burning question was the same one I was asked the week before when my IMPACT Teens class in Tel-Aviv was filmed by the Knesset’s official TV channel: “Has the spate of high-profile murders in Israel this summer increased interest in enrollment?”

Well, it sure has increased MEDIA interest. But enrollees? Damned if we know. Yes, there is increased interest. And, of course, we are savvy enough to ask each and every interested party what brought her to our door.  So far, no one  has said: “Because of the stabbings (shootings, beatings) last week”. Still, much as we’d like to think that our hard work and their desire to be-all- that-they-can-be are what it takes to get them in the door, we can’t help but wonder.

Fear As Motivation

What’s really behind the walk-ins and the phone calls? Is it this summer’s screaming headlines?  And if fear is the motivator, what happens when life– and media attention— inevitably shift elsewhere? Will we be back to competing on a par with hip-hop and drawing classes? Or will that extra motivation to empower themselves and their daughters for a lifetime remain?

What do you think?


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