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July 3, 2008: A Closer Look

July 3, 2008

It is being said that Husam Taysir Dwayat, the terrorist who went on a rampage yesterday, was not a political man and not religious. He was, however, in the words of one relative, a "hot head," and believed to have been involved with drugs.

Apparently he either lived with , or was married to, a Jewish woman at one point (although in recent years he had a Muslim wife), and, protested a family member, "he was on good terms with many Jews with whom he used to work."

Well… this is somehow supposed to be evidence that he didn’t have anti-Jewish feeling. But, sorry, this can be read another way, as well: that even Arabs who seem to be friendly to Jews may harbor murderous inclinations towards them. This is not the first time an Arab with "good relations" with Jews has done such a thing. Sometimes such a person is recruited by a terrorist group.


Khaled Abu Toameh did a piece in today’s Jerusalem Post, in which he gives voice to some of the discontents and concerns expressed by the residents of the neighborhood, Sur Bahir, from which the attacker had come. An examination of their positions seems to me to be very much in order:

Abu Toameh cites Zuhier Hamdan, a mukhtar (sort of neighborhood chief) in Sur Bahir:

"Hamdan said that while he condemned the killing of innocent civilians, he was also concerned about the ‘pressure’ that the Jerusalem Municipality and the Israeli authorities were exerting on residents of Sur Bahir in particular and east Jerusalem in general."


"’Many people in Sur Bahir and other Arab neighborhoods in Jerusalem are angry because of the demolition of illegally built houses,’ he said.

"’They are also angry with the taxes imposed on them’…

"He also complained that Israel’s refusal to grant citizenship to thousands of Arabs in the city was another reason why many of them were angry."

A great deal of talk about anger , and this seems very typical of the culture.


Let us consider each complaint:

Anger about demolition of "illegally built houses." Those houses are often put up in an attempt to establish facts on the ground (efforts supported by the PA) and to acquire lucrative profits for the builders. Israel has been extraordinarily lax in allowing many of the structures to remain standing and goes through a defined legal process before doing any demolitions.

Attorney Justice Reid Weiner , of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, five years ago wrote a definitive monograph on this very issue in which he reported that thousands of illegal structures — many substantial and frequently situated on land that does not even belong to the builder — dot the Jerusalem landscape.

What is more — while one might assume from Hamdan’s statement that demolitions are directed specifically at the Arab population of Jerusalem — Weiner notes that illegal housing construction is an international problem and that demolitions take place everywhere.

There is a great deal more to say on this subject , and I will come back to it. This is emblematic of a larger problem and rife with public misunderstanding.


"They are also angry with the taxes imposed on them." But taxes aren’t imposed on "them" — they are imposed on all of us. Somehow they expect selective dispensation — never mind that this would require Jewish Israelis to disproportionately cover the expenses of their social services.


Perhaps most grievous is the complaint about citizenship. In 1967, when Israel acquired eastern Jerusalem, with its Arab population, that population was offered citizenship. Almost all turned it down. So they were given Jerusalem residency status instead. That status allows them to move freely about the country, vote in municipal Jerusalem elections, and receive benefits such as health care and welfare. Plus they receive protection under the law, and human and civil rights not found in neighboring Arab localities. Not bad.

What is lacking is the right to vote in national elections, but they were allowed — an ill-advised decision in the opinion of many — to vote in the PA elections (and, it must noted, they voted Hamas).

Now, as they come to the realization that they would be absorbed into the PA if Jerusalem were divided (G-d forbid), some several thousands have decided citizenship would be a good idea, because it’s far better in Israel than the PA. They’re not happy that at this juncture it’s not automatically forthcoming.

Even though their desire now for Israeli citizenship does not stem from true identification with or loyalty to the State of Israel, they believe it should be theirs for the asking. What an inflated sense of automatic entitlement!


I’ve written many times about the welfare mentality of the Palestinians, who have received more international aid money per capita than any other people on earth and yet persist in seeing themselves as victims — and have convinced the world of this.

The mental set of Arab residents of Jerusalem is much the same, and Hamdan’s litany of complaints and explanations as to why they are angry is exceedingly telling in this regard.

What is missing is a tone of responsibility , or any hint of introspective sadness about what happened yesterday. Hamdan is a presumptive community leader, yet he doesn’t talk about working within his community to make sure such a thing doesn’t happen again. This is not the way he is thinking. Not remotely.

Instead, complained Hamdan: "Each time an Arab from Jerusalem carries out an attack, some Israeli politicians start inciting against all the Arabs. The Israelis need to understand that the majority of Jerusalem Arabs are peaceful people."

But there is something he needs to understand : If there are, let us say, 20,000 Arabs in this neighborhood (and I believe there are many more), and only 1/2 of 1% of them are not peaceful people, this means 100 people who represent a danger to the Jewish population. It behooves the Israeli politicians to consider actions to prevent those 100 from hurting us. No more yeshiva students gunned down, no more babies tossed from cars before their mothers are crushed.

If the Jerusalem Arabs truly wish to be part of the body politic of Israel, it also behooves their community leaders to work for that very same goal. But — with increased identification of Jerusalem Arabs with Hamas — we are today further from that than ever.


In a commentary on the attack yesterday — "Palestinian Terrorism as a Natural Act" — Bradley Burston wrote the following in Haaretz:

"On a quiet morning in Jerusalem , a man behind the wheel of a bulldozer has taken it upon himself to kill Jews. Women and children and the elderly and the infirm. What’s a decent person to think when Palestinian groups fall over one another trying to claim the bulldozer attack? And when one of the groups is the Fatah Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade?

"What is it that Palestinians really want? I no longer believe that it’s as simple as wanting statehood. This is what I don’t yet want to admit: that for all these years, what a critical mass of Palestinians want most, perhaps even more than statehood, may be nothing more than seeing Jews dead and gone."


While Gerald Steinberg had this to say in
his piece
– “Terror’s Predictable Spontaneity” — in The Jerusalem Post:

"Palestinians have been raised on the armed struggle , and many are capable of acting on their own, with whatever weapons are most readily available. The steady flow of incitement in the media plays a central role in this process, including Palestinian television programming preaching the virtues of martyrdom and the glory of fighting the Zionist enemy. As a result, the isolated action may appear to be spontaneous, but the foundation and preparations are never far away."



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