The summer’s hot in Israel and I’m not talking about the weather. Last month, three young Jewish boys in Judea and Samaria (West Bank) were kidnapped by Arab terrorists. The terrorists murdered the boys and dumped them in a field. Last week, an Arab teenage boy was kidnapped, his body burned. Was it murder committed by Arabs? Was an act of revenge committed by Jews for the three boys’ killing?
The police is investigating. Update: The Israeli police and secret service have made arrests; they believe it was a group of Jewish boys who’d killed the Arab boy.
Jews and Arabs relate to loss of life differently. There’s no sugar-coating this difference. The entire State of Israel was in mourning following the death of the three boys. Whether you are on the left or on the right, every single Israeli felt as he had lost a son, a collective tragedy. I don’t doubt the Arab boy’s mother is grieving. But not the surrounding Arab community.
Instead, they took to the streets, hurled stones at Jews and security forces, burned tires, blocked streets, destroyed portions of the Jerusalem Light Rail that runs through their neighborhoods. To repair the trains will take months and cost millions.
To think that Arabs and Jews could live together; it’s naiveté that borders on stupidity. Take the city of Jerusalem, for example. Its eastern flank has been “united” with western Jerusalem since the Six Day War in 1967. For decades, steps were taken to unite the city. Israel’s tourist office, the city mayor, the media – they all speak of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital city. Yet few advertise the fact that almost 40% of its population is Arab.
How would London, Paris, Washington, Tokyo be able to operate if 4 out of 10 of its residents were hostile or uncooperative?
Yet Jerusalem hides this fact. It hopes against hope that “we can all get along.” Arabs migrate from surrounding villages and towns to East Jerusalem. There they intermarry, prosper and multiply. Jews, in return, add more Jewish neighborhoods on hillsides in a game of one-upmanship.
The Jerusalem Light Rail, open for business since 2011, is the flagship of public transportation. It was to be the experiment to unite both sides of Jerusalem. At 9 miles long, the slick, electric train makes its way through Arab and Jewish neighborhoods. Each day, 130,000 passengers cross town.
Be careful of what you wish for.
Suddenly, for the past three years, Arabs who were confined to their homes could step out their front doors, hop on a modern train, and minutes later find themselves in fashionable shopping promenades, markets, city hall, university, and much more. Now sitting inches apart on board the train, Muslim women wearing Hijabs to cover their faces stare at Orthodox Jewish men wearing shtreimel and tzitzit.
But if the Light Rail can be likened to an artery that meanders through the body, the blood cells (Jews and Arabs) are sick of each other. They want to flow in separate bodies, in separate veins.
Poor Englishmen and poor Englishwomen board trains in East London to London’s West End and there’s no war at the end of the day. The Berlin Wall came down in 1989 and there was no war. There were Germans on both sides of the wall. During the Los Angeles Riots of 1992 Blacks burned down their own liquor stores, markets, gas stations to protest against years of neglect by the Whites on the Westside. But at the end of the day, when the dust and smoke settled, there was a truce, rebuilding, hope.
Arabs and Jews share no common future. The events of the last few weeks prove that. The road to heaven is paved with good intentions, and although Jerusalem is in God’s backyard, heaven is a long way off. The Arabs’ carnage of the Light Rail and other violent demonstrations are evidence that we’re different peoples. We should disengage from each other.
My station is coming up. I’m getting off.
What about you?
Maurice Labi is an Israeli-American who lived in Los Angeles for many years. In 2011 He returned to Northern Israel (Galilee) with his wife and twin teenage daughters. He is of two lands, of two cultures and he blogs about his experiences in Israel, particularly from Galilee where Jews and Arabs dwelled for centuries.
He has also written three novels: “Jupiter’s Stone,” “Into the Night,” and “American Moth” — available at Amazon.com
or at BN.com