Since the June 12 abduction and murder of three Israeli teenagers, emotions and tensions are running high among Israel’s varied populations. Before the week of mourning for the slain boys was over, an Arab teenager from East Jerusalem was abducted and murdered, spurring not only the arrest of six Jewish Israelis suspected of committing the crime but also violent demonstrations on the Arab street.
In the midst of all the unrest, many Israelis are attempting to calm the rage, console the mourners and express solidarity between Arabs and Jews.
On July 8, a coalition of 30 Israeli civil society organizations, Tag Meir (Spreading the Light), was arranging a bus to bring an expected 615 Israelis to visit the mourning tent of the Abu Khdeir family in Jerusalem’s Shuafat neighborhood. Tag Meir also plans a demonstration against extremism on Saturday night in Tel Aviv that is expected to attract thousands of Israelis.
Racheli Fraenkel, mother of slain Israeli teen Naftali Fraenkel, reached out to the family of the slain Arab teen, Muhammad Abu Khdeir, as she sat shiva.
“It is difficult for me to describe how distressed we are by the outrage committed in Jerusalem – the shedding of innocent blood in defiance of all morality, of the Torah, of the foundation of the lives of our boys and of all of us in this country,” said Fraenkel. “No mother or father should ever have to go through what we are going through, and we share the pain of Muhammad’s parents.”
Rabbi Yakov Nagen in Otniel, where four students were killed in a terror attack in 2002, posted on Facebook: “A short time after they found the bodies of the three boys, my friend Ibrahim from East Jerusalem called me to express his deep sorrow over the killings, and to convey that his heart is with the boys’ families. I never imagined that a few days later, I would have to call him to express my deep sorrow for the murder of Muhammad Abu Khdeir from East Jerusalem, and to convey that my heart is with the boy’s family.”
Dr. Moshe Kaplan of the Mensch Foundation, a grassroots organization promoting kindness and unity in Israel, is calling for companies and organizations to consider appointing “Mensch Ambassadors” as part of a stepped-up campaign in light of the tragedies.
On July 7, President Shimon Peres told Muhammad’s father, Hussein Abu Khdeir: “I am ashamed on behalf of my nation and grieve with you. The only thing left for all of us to do is to ensure that no more children are murdered, and no more tears are shed are by mothers. … There is nothing that saddens us more than the tears of a mother and the grief of a father. … The murderers must be punished and the murder uprooted from its source. We must replace the mourner’s tent with a tabernacle of peace.”