The truck driver lived in a nearby Arab village. His status legally entitled him to Israeli license plates for his truck (which he used as part of his work as a laborer). And his commute in to Israel required him to pass through an Israeli security checkpoint.
But even if the security guards had thoroughly searched his truck for weapons, it would not have mattered. There were no weapons. He chose to use the truck itself as a weapon to hurt others.
This deeply troubling story challenges some of the basic presumptions I have about Israel, and the effectiveness (or lack there of) regarding border security.
The Promenade has historically been a multicultural center of Jerusalem life, where Arab and Israeli children could play together if they were so inclined. Naturally, after an incident like this, trusting the one who is different becomes that much more difficult.
But here's the funny thing about Israel: there's such a tremendous sense of "Be Calm and Carry On" to life here.
As if it were the most normal thing in the world, we went straight from the site of a terror attack from a few days ago to an archaeological site immediately adjacent to the Old City. We trekked thru a semi-secret ancient underground tunnel that led right to the Wall.
And then we were in Shabbat preparation mode. We had the chance to spiritually reflect at the Wall (we made it past security this time!). And then some pre-Shabbat shopping at Jerusalem's main market in Machane Yehudah (see pictures of both below).
And then it was on to Shabbat with a dear friend and colleague who serves an Israeli Reform congregation just outside of Jerusalem, followed by dinner with her family. And then a day of quieter contemplation (and more eating!) today (Saturday) as I prepare to head to the airport early tomorrow morning.
Yes: Israel is a place that continues to live under the threat of security concerns. But yes: Israel has sparks of co-existence that augur the possibility of a more meaningful reconciliation between Jew and Arab some how, some way, some day.
And yes: Israel is a place that is maddeningly frustrated because of the hegemonic influence that the Orthodox have over questions like Jewish pluralism and gender. But Israel is also filled with passionate leaders (some in our movement and some outside of it) who are hopeful about a renewed future, and a greater sense of peace within Israel's own society. I know that because of the remarkable work that my friend Stacey is doing (and so many others like her). And I know that because of the rhythm of Israel life. It's Friday. It doesn't matter how difficult the week that just passed was. Everyone still has to go to the market to get ready by shopping for the weekend. Life continues as it always has, as our Tradition gently guides us from one week to the next.