Nahal Kana, a large stream that is one of the main tributaries of the Yarkon River, winds around and through parts of my community in the West Bank, ultimately spilling into the river near the Baptist Village in Petah Tikvah.
It is mentioned in the Bible by the name it still bears, as the boundary between the Israelite tribes of Ephraim and Menashe (Joshua 17:9).
The stream's water level varies, depending on the season and the amount of rainfall that year. But as it slides through the valley between Karnei Shomron and surrounding settlements, it pools into a beautiful little maayan or spring.
There are several trails to get there, through areas of lush green and wildflowers and past the fragrant lemon and orange orchards of local Palestinian farmers. On some days, the farmers will sell their fruit to local Jewish hikers.
My sons and their friends love to hang out at the spring on a lazy summer day or on a Friday afternoon during the school year. During chol hamoed of Sukkot and Passover the nahal fills with families, and extended families, enjoying nature and the cool water.
My older son loves to visit maayanot or springs, throughout the West Bank. On many Fridays, a day off of Torah and Talmud study for his post-high school yeshiva, he and some of his friends will visit different springs, sometimes more than one in a day.
On Aug. 23, Palestinian terrorists planted explosives at one of these pleasant maayanot in the central West Bank, just 6 kilometers from the central Israeli city of Modiin. When they detonated the explosives using a remote control, they took the life of 17-year-old Rina Shnerb and injured her father and brother.
Make no mistake about it. These terrorists knew Jewish families and teens frequent the springs, especially on Fridays. They were not attacking Israel’s military and they were not defending themselves from some perceived danger. Their goal was to kill Jews. And they succeeded.
The murder of the teen with a smile that could light up a room led to condemnation from most quarters, though some of it was qualified – couched in terms of the larger Israeli-Palestinian conflict despite the fact this was a family of civilians spending their Friday hiking and swimming in a natural spring.
One of those responses came from U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Michigan, who has been front and center in the consciousness of both Israelis and Jews around the world in the last few weeks. My original plan for this column was to write about how I think the government should have allowed her to enter Israel and visit whatever places she wanted to, including her grandmother in the West Bank, due to her position as a U.S. congresswoman.
Tlaib did not condemn the attack nor those that perpetrated it; rather, she appeared to blame the victim. She tweeted: “This is absolutely tragic & horrible. My heart goes out to Rina’s family. More than ever we need to support nonviolent approaches to ending the Israeli occupation and guaranteeing equal rights for all. Extremism that puts innocent lives at risk moves us no closer to peace.”
I could go on about how Tlaib has wronged Israel and the peace process, but in the case of the response to Rina’s death I am much angrier with a Jewish group that shows clearly how little it values the lives of Jews who think differently from its members.
IfNotNow is a left-wing group that says it is made up predominately of Jews and opposes what it calls Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and is a proponent of the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement against Israel. The members of this organization have every right to their opinions and to choose not to support Israel’s economy, as much as I disagree with them.
Their tweeted statement started with some humanity and empathy: “We are mourning the death of Rina Shnerb, who was only 17 years old. Our thoughts are with her friends and family.”
However, it continued: “We’re not confused: the rightward drift of Israeli and US govts (sic) make the situation on the ground less safe for Israelis and Palestinians.”
I will not deny the unsavoriness of the rightwing drift of the two countries that I hold dear. But IfNotNow is blaming right-wing ideology, Israel and the Trump administration for Rina’s death – blaming everyone, but the Palestinian terrorist or terrorists who chose to blow her up simply because she is Jewish.
Tlaib’s tweet was a response to IfNotNow’s statement. While it is clear that she has not one warm feeling about the Jewish state, how could she not blame Israel for such a reprehensible attack when a Jewish group has done it first.
Let me be clear, there is no excuse for intentionally murdering civilians. Without that recognition, how can there ever be hope for peace?
I pray Israel’s beautiful natural springs will again be safe for the enjoyment of my children and everyone’s children.
Marcy Oster is a former Clevelander who covers the Middle East for the Cleveland Jewish News from Karnei Shomron, West Bank. To read more of Oster’s columns, visit cjn.org/oster.