By Matania Ginosar
On a recent trip to Israel, when I was walking all over central Jerusalem to revive my fond memories of this beautiful city and after eating a hearty falafel near the corner of King George and Jaffa streets, I went to pray at the Western Wall - the Kotel. It is a historic walk with the modern city hall fronting the graves of two underground members who blew themselves up just before the British were able to hang them. Lots of memories and lots of history that touched my soul deeply.
After some reflection and prayers, I inserted a note asking for peace into the Wall and left this awesome Kotel with a heavy heart: When will Israel have some respite, some peace?
I looked for a taxi to take me back to my relatives in the French Hill and saw two separate rows; the same modern cars, with similar drivers. I asked the first driver how much to the French Hill and he gave a low figure, I entered and we were on our way. But within a few seconds I noticed we are going in the opposite direction to the one I always went, and before I realized it we were in Arab East Jerusalem. I did not like it, they were notorious for their extremism and several Arabs from that area murdered a few neighbors of my family in the French Hill. I was concerned, I did not see any policemen around, and asked the driver why he was taking me to that risky place. He told me: "don't worry, nothing will happened to you, do you think I want to risk my new car?" We made it safely to the French Hill, I paid and walked away.
My relatives told me I should have used the Israeli taxis nearby, but I was unable to distinguish between the cars or the drivers. The mixture of population is so wide in Israel there is no easy way to know who may be dangerous, and who you can trust. Some quarter of a million Arabs live in Arab villages within Jerusalem and many work in Jewish areas, from construction, to services, to taxi drivers.
A few weeks ago Israel's Chief of Internal Security told the Knesset Select Committee on Security that Arab East Jerusalem is a power vacuum because there is too little Israeli control there. Therefore, he said, East Jerusalem will continue to produce terrorists like the three Israeli Arabs who murdered Israeli civilians this year in Jerusalem.
A few days ago PM Olmert said that Jerusalem should be divided; otherwise you can expect more terrorism from these Arab areas. Very few people trust Olmert. He proved himself a very poor leader in selection of his cabinet, in the Lebanon war, and the response to Hamas in Gaza, and has been suspected of financial corruption for some time. He announced his resignation to take effect in September.
That a leader of that background even dares to make a comment of this nature on one of the core issues of Israel sovereignty is a great disappointment. But he is not alone, the US Administration is pushing to divide Jerusalem, the Palestinians claim Jerusalem as their Capital, and some Israelis and Jews do not care if the Arab part of the city will be "given" to the Palestinians. After all, they claim, Israel will have one quarter of a million less Arabs inside its borders.
Several Israeli prime ministers suggested to offer the Palestinians part of the Galil and other heavily populated Israeli-Arab areas to reduce their high proportion within Israel, some 20%. Many of these Arabs seem to hate Israel according to polls, but they also scream they want to stay within Israel since the alternative is poverty and danger among the Palestinians. Thousands of Jerusalem Arabs have been asking for Israeli citizenship in the last few years since Israel, some of them said, is the best place in the world to be an Arab! Think about that!
Let's assume Jerusalem is divided, and the number of Israeli Arabs is thus reduced. Let's assume a new fence will separate them from the rest of Jerusalem. What about the remaining one million Israeli-Arabs? Since they are full citizens they can travel freely. Can this stop internal terrorism? I don't think so. It will remove an integral part of Jerusalem from Israeli control and allow terrorists free movement within this areas. Just think about their new ability to bomb Jerusalem from within.
Internal terrorists will continue to come from Israeli Arabs, this can not be fully stopped, and sadly, Israelis will have to continue to muster the courage to live with terrorism from time to time within its borders. No alternative exists at present. Eventually most Israeli-Arabs would grasp clearly that it is in their own deep self interest to become full fledge Israeli citizens and expose the few terrorists among them.
Jerusalem should not be divided. Israel should not repeat the bad mistakes it made by vacating Lebanon and Gaza unilaterally.
from the August 2008 Edition of the Jewish Magazine