“The future remains uncertain and so it should, for it is the canvas upon which we paint our desires. Thus always the human condition faces a beautifully empty canvas.”
Frank Herbert

Children of Dune

When Society Attacks

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It’s an emotional drama that will soon be forgotten by everyone except those who are directly touched by the event. An Israeli teenager and his pregnant girlfriend plan to commit suicide together. A sticky chain events lead to the police shooting the teenager dead. You can find more details on the story here in English and in Hebrew (where there are two additional video interviews with both mothers).

There are going to be tears and there are going to be investigations and … everyone will look for blame and no one will see the biger picture. What follows is a extremely prejudice selection of facts and speculations on my part so do with it as you please.

Romeo & Juliet

It is unclear where this association was born but it is out there in the media … they were a lovely couple, good kids … just like Romeo & Juliet. They had been together for a few weeks.

I imagine they were typical teenagers, neither particularly good, nor particularly bad … typically horny … and they got pregnant. It’s not as romantic as the image of Romeo and Juliet … but I am not interested in putting up a veil of romance or any other kind … I am interested in seeing this for what it is.

Normative

Both of them attended school far away from home, a kind of boarding school. The school they went to is kept hidden in the media. All that is mentioned is that it is in the north and at one point, I don’t remember quite where, that it is close to Nahariya … a “major” coastal city in the north.

While that is normal it isn’t a “mainstream normative” where you go to a school close to where you live, come home everyday and have friends in your neighborhood. In Israel it is usually a sign of something not quite normative. It could be many things. But rest assured there was something.

Pregnancy

Teen pregnancy in Israel is a tragedy.Period. I am guessing that is true in many places of the world (though not all!), but I want to stay focused on Israel. It is an emotional issue, a social issue, a financial issue … it is a huge problem and can be devastating for a couple of teenagers … as seems to have been the case.

His Mother

According to the reports his mother knew about the pregnancy. She was against the relationship. She tried to inform/convince them to have an abortion.

In the interview with his mother she comes across as a tough and/or cold one. I was amazed that she could describe the visit to the morgue where she saw her dead son with a bullet shot to the head without even the smallest vibration in her voice let alone a tear in her eye. At the end of the video an uncle is interviewed shortly and he couldn’t keep it together.

In the interview she says, with a tone of criticism towards the police, that all that was needed was to get him to come back home, that they would see each other, break down in tears, hug and everything would be alright.

Yet at the time they were driving away from his home. Which brings us to …

Her Mother

Who in the short interview says that she had spoken to the teenage couple and that they were heading her way to resolve the situation. Apparently, she did not know about the pregnancy. This is corroborated by the fact that the shooting took place in a place that is on the way from his home to hers.

Efrat

Efrat is a pro-life anti-abortion organization. Though it is carefully hidden it is a religious organization. According to his mother, three of their vultures circled around the girl trying to convince her to keep the baby. You would think their role in this was negligient but I am going to indulge here a bit.

There is a video (you need to download) with English subtitles (you gotta get donors!) on their website. In it there are both men and women. Women are either those “saved” by the organization or those who had an abortion and regret it. Men are the ones with the opinions about abortion and who do the consulting. Three men to be precise.

  1. Prof. Ben Zion Rafael, Women’s Ward Director, Beilinson Hospital appears at 4:54 explaining that immediately after ovulation beings implantation which is the beginning of life … “the fetus clings to his mother’s womb” … I am assuming he knows and is implying that fertilization is also required. In his secon appearant at 6:43 he also warns women that after an abortion you may not be able to get pregnant again without medical assistance.
  2. The founder and chairman of the organization appears first at 5:10 and then at 7:09 where he sits in a white doctor’s shirt to summon intellectual credibility and a black head-cover to summon spiritual authority where he explains to a woman that her situation is a medical situation and therefor only experienced doctors (like himself) can give you advice.
  3. Prof. Yosef Shenker, Chairman, The International Gynecologists Ethics Committee appears at 5:20 and says “A woman MUST read about it. She MUST come to the social worker …”. Its great to hear men lecturing women about what they must do … I can’t imagine starting my day any other way.

I checked the credentials on that last one. I found him here in Israel but he isn’t mentioned at the International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics – maybe he was a past member? Though Israel isn’t even listed as voting member. Sadly this international organization also seems to be dominated by men.

Gun

The teenager was carrying his father’s (an army officer) gun. Israel does not have a consitution, and there is no “right to carry arms” as a normative right. However many people do. Most military service men (or often those with a military past) carry arms … they and the most extremist (Jews and Muslims) people who inhabit the country.

It’s very normative to see guns in Israel. It’s very normative to hear about shootings due to military activity. It is very normative to hear actual gunshots if ou live in the vicinity of violence (of which there is plenty). There is plenty of civil violence in Israel too.

Violence makes using weapons normative, having access to them makes it easy.

Police

According to the reports the teenager drove fast and ran into crash barriers on the side of the road. The police volunteer force (there are many volunteers in the Israeli police) that met them came to assist only to found him holding a gun to her head and her pleading him not to hurt her. So the teenager turned the gun against the police, fired a shot and the police fired back and killed him.

There is a good chance that the police force that found them knew nothing about the story or context. Add to that the fact that police and guns and violence in Israel are very real … and in Israel security forces are many times required to shoot to kill … and well … it almost had to end up the way it did.

When Society Attacks

In my mind and heart the couple were attacked from many directions:

  1. They were attacked because they were teenagers trying to find their way through a complex and ominous world.
  2. They were attacked by the social norms of the society they live in.
  3. They were attacked by the economic norms of the society they live in.
  4. They were attacked by his mother.
  5. They were attacked by Efrat.
  6. They were attacked by an aggressive and a fear-inducing male-dominated society.
  7. They were attacked by the police force that met them.
  8. Now they areĀ (at least she is) attacked by the insatiable need of media to provide fleeting sensational satisfaction while there is fresh dripping blood and gripping emotions.

They were attacked from all directions, by people that were supposed loved them, by people that were supposed to protect them. They were cornered and the only solution they could find was suicide. Now everyone is going to hide behind their fears and emotions and to shoot arrows of guilt towards anyone else. Society will again fail to see it’s systemic failure to do the only thing it is meant to do … to support life.

Raz, that was his name, is quickly going to fade away … just another casualty of a messed up society. And the girl … I can’t imagine what she must be dealing with now.

 

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