Violence in Israel and the United States

Violence in Israel and the United States October 15, 2015

Given that I am leading a trip to Israel and the West bank next summer, I’ve been watching the news about increasing violence in Jerusalem and other places with some concern.

But the fact that I have friends who live in these places, and can see what they post on Facebook, provides an interesting perspective on this.

For instance, one friend of mine who lives in Jerusalem mentioned that he heard a gunshot, in a way that gave the impression that this is not something routine for him.

Living in Indianapolis, I can say that hearing gunshots worries me too. But I hear them so regularly that I’ve had to learn to live with this.

A few months ago, President Obama contrasted the United States with other countries, including Israel. Gun attacks are 33 times more common in the US than in Israel.

There have been knife attacks in Israel recently, and I can’t say that those don’t make me worried about the safety of travelers who accompany me there. But rarely does a day pass when something similar or worse has not happened in my own city, never mind my own country.

To be honest, what makes me nervous is that Israelis are responding to recent violence by buying guns. I am starting to worry, not that Israel will not be safe to visit, but that I will have to be as worried about being shot while there as I am on a daily basis in my own country.

And so it seems to me quite ironic that some Americans will see news from Israel and think it is becoming “unsafe.” What would it take to get Americans to realize that, people in other countries – including Israel – watching stories about shootings on campuses and in movie theaters in the United States will view this country as much less safe than their own?

What will it take to get us to see ourselves the way others see us, and to realize that if what we see on the news about them disturbs us, then what we see on the news about ourselves ought to make us take action to change our own society?

Police in Old Jerusalem


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  • Phil Ledgerwood

    Israel’s last major school shooting was in 1974. Ours was, what, two weeks ago?

  • Michael Wilson

    I looked it up and seems to work pretty well for Israel. Personally, I don’t mind their kinds of restrictions but I doubt eithier NRA types or leftist moonbats would go for it. It’s seems to tightly restrict gun licences to professional body gaurds, shop owners, and frontier settlers. I’m cool with that. Here though their is the 2nd amendment. I wouldn’t mind rewording that, though I do like the principle that an average citizen as a right to the means to power. However there has to be a limit and I think the arms availible to the people of Isreal now would prevent an authoritarian/populist power grab from going without a hitch. Palestinians don’t have a right to rockets but they still get them.

    I think it’s self explanatory why the NRA types would oppose this, regarding the far left, it seems that Israels system favors the rich over the poor, since shop owners are given licences. And that the settlers get them is also troubling to leftist sensibility since homeowners in high crime neighborhoods might argue that their situations merits guns more than the settlers .

    I do think though that the condition that the right to bear arms exist to facilitate a well regulated militia, that arms bearing could, and should be well documented by the state governments(not federal)

  • ugluk2

    The majority of the dead in Israel are dead from gunshots, not knives and as always, most are Palestinian. You seem, like many Americans, to only notice violence directed against Israelis–if the only violence consists of the occasional Palestinian fisherman being shot or an unarmed woman being murdered it doesn’t really register as violence.

    • Michael Wilson

      Ugluk2, I think that the article was focused on the phenomenon of personal anti-social mass killing, not state sponsored killings and the statistic probably only include murders in Israel, not occupied territories which technically aren’t part of Israel. Whether the war with Palestinians has anything to do with Israel’s lower gun violence is something to ponder, though most developed states with low gun violence are not similarly involved in border skirmishes.

      • I do apologize for having given the impression that I am only interested in violence against Israelis and not violence against Palestinians. I shared this in the context of preparing to take a group of students to Israel and the West Bank, and so had been thinking about how to convey to students that they will, in all likelihood, be safer in Israel and Palestine than in their homeland. I apologize sincerely if that focus of mine came across as lack of concern for the state-sponsored and other occupation-related forms of violence against Palestinians.

  • I certainly don’t hear gunshots outside my home, and if I did, I would move. I think this says more about the state of America’s inner cities than anything about the U.S. as a whole. And why be afraid of Jews buying guns? Most male Israeli Jews were trained in their use in the military. Most of America’s gun violence takes place among Black people, not Jews and Arabs. Last time I heard, both Dearborn and Bloomfield Hills were pretty safe; Detroit is not. And Israel has Iron Dome as well, so that helps.