Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Silent Intifada Redux: Israel Ponders an Arab Quarantine in Jerusalem

Violence is cascading out of control in Jerusalem a year after Operation Protective Edge. Then the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teenagers in the West Bank was used as an excuse by the Netanyahu government to crack down on the Palestinian civilian population. Eventually the crackdown was widened to Gaza, resulting in the collapse of the ceasefire with Hamas and a month-plus orgy of violence by the IDF directed against the people of Gaza. Israelis referred to Operation Protective Edge as "mowing the grass."

This time around it is hard to mow the grass when that grass is in Jerusalem, 35% of which is Palestinian and nearly half Jewish. The following from today's story by Jodi Rudoren and Isabel Kershner, "4 Attacks by Palestinians Leave at Least 3 Israelis Dead," is a convenient summation of the violence that some are calling another intifada:
There have been more than 20 attacks, mostly stabbings, already this month, killing a total of seven Israeli Jews. At least 11 of those suspected of being assailants have been shot dead by Israeli security forces or, in one case, a victim who pulled out a pistol. Most of the attacks have been in Jerusalem, but violence has also struck in Kiryat Arba, an Israeli settlement in the occupied West Bank; in the cultural and financial capital, Tel Aviv; and in far-flung, normally peaceful towns.
Simultaneous to the IDF "mowing the grass" last year in Gaza there was a spate of "lone wolf" Palestinian-on-Jew attacks in Jerusalem; so many that they were given their own name, the "Silent Intifada." These attacks appeared arbitrary and desperate -- ramming a car into a line of people at a bus stop or flailing about at passersby with a knife -- the sign of a people who have been traumatized for so long that immediate, senseless violence is the only solution.

A very bad sign. And that is what have again now this fall. In this repeat of the Silent Intifada, Palestinians of Jerusalem are merely emulating their overlord's penchant for arbitrary force. Police, who invariably arrive at the scene of a attack answering Palestinian knifes with a hail of hot lead, ratchet up the conflict by a disproportionate response. The "lone wolves" multiple.

In another bad sign, Israeli officials are actually considering an Arab quarantine in Jerusalem, possibly something like a 21st century Warsaw Ghetto. According to Rudoren and Kershner,
“Why not put them under curfew?” Ms. Ben Zichri, 59, asked of the city’s 300,000 Palestinian residents. “I should be able to walk freely.” 
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel called an emergency meeting of top security officials and ministers for Tuesday afternoon. A police spokeswoman said the steps to be considered included a complete closing of Jerusalem’s Arab neighborhoods, whose residents are generally not citizens of Israel but can freely roam the country and often work in Jewish areas, and an easing of gun-licensing procedures. 
At the scene of the bus attack, Mayor Nir Barkat of Jerusalem called for new restrictions on Arab neighborhoods in the city. 
“We have to stop and place a curfew,” he said. “We must widen and upgrade the steps taken up until now.”
Mr. Barkat, who last week urged residents with licensed guns to start carrying them in the streets, added: “This has to stop, even if residents pay a price in their quality of life. We need to stop this and take control of the reality we live in.”
Soon, I believe, the intifada will find its way to the West, whose leaders are kings of the fantasy of force. There is no indication that there will be any reassessment here. Reports say that U.S.-supplied TOW missiles are now flooding Syrian battlefields. War is on the horizon as far as the eye can see. Eventually it will come home to roost.

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