Israeli-Jewish cultural aspects of an event of violence: Between biblical codes and Zionist ideology – Israeli perspective

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


On 8 June 2003 a suicide bomber blew himself up in a bus which
was near a stop in front of a large office building not far from the
Mahane Yehuda outdoor market in Jerusalem. This incident, one
among many other violent events, is the focus of the following
analysis which examines Israeli culture and its relation to restorative
processes. In this attack 17 people were killed and over 100 were
wounded. The event was part of a chain of violent acts, responses
and counter-responses which were escalating during the second
intifada period (2000-4) both in Israel and in Palestinian territories.
The direct victims were the bus passengers and the driver, the
surrounding bystanders who got injured and their family members.
The more indirect victims were the Jerusalem citizens, the Israeli-
Jewish community and to some extent the broader worldwide Jewish
community which shares collective memories and imagined destiny
with Israel as a Jewish state. The victims came from diverse ethnic
and cultural backgrounds, including Israeli-Arabs, ultra-orthodox
Jews and an immigrant worker. The direct perpetrator was the person
who committed suicide by detonating the bomb, turning himself into
another victim of the event. Behind him, as an indirect perpetrator,
sending him for his mission stood the Hamas military wing. The
Palestinian people overall supported this act as a revenge for the
strikes in Gaza against the Hamas leader (Moghadam 2003). Behind
them - to a certain level - stood the global Arab community striving
to protect its oppressed people - the Palestinians. The violation which
occurred here was the shattering of life and well-being of innocent
citizens by using a disguised person who chose martyrdom and self-destruction as a method of attack. The latter produces horror for
itself. The responsibility for the event in the narrow sense is on the
direct and indirect perpetrators as described above. However, it is
clear that it is only part of a chain of violence in which targeting and
bombing become routine resulting in an endless bloody circle which
entices the most extreme responses. This case will be used here as
a micro-cosmos for understanding Jewish and Israeli approaches to
violence and reconciliation. It can be used as foundations for weaving
a restorative process which takes into account the cultural sensitivities
and inspirations of both parties.
The response to the event requires understanding of the cultural
perception of justice in the Israeli and Jewish society, as well as
some overview of existing restorative justice mechanisms which
currently operate in Israeli society. This paper aims to explore the
ways in which the truth about such violent events could be revealed,
in order to attain justice and to begin constructing mechanisms for
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationRestoring Justice after Large-Scale Violent Conflicts
Subtitle of host publicationKosovo, DR Congo and the Israeli-Palestinian Case
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Number of pages16
ISBN (Print)9781843925590
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2013


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