A binational reality
The terrorists did not represent an organization. Worse still: They reflect the mood of thousands of residents in Israel's capital.
How nice that this time, too, the terrorist was a "lone wolf," a drug addict or just a nut case. Just so long as Jerusalemite murderers are not acting on behalf of terrorist groups. "Wild weeds" can grow in any garden. We also once had a strange doctor who carried out a massacre in a mosque; his family erected a glorious tombstone in honor of the "saint." No one proposed razing the family's home for the purpose of "deterrence" - and justifiably so. If we assume that this was the case of a deviant, demolishing the home of his family will deter the next deviant in the same way that the death penalty deters people who decide to blow themselves up in a bus, in the hope of having fun with 70 virgins in paradise. Deterrence is relevant when it is applied to trends in the mainstream, not in the sidelines of society.
The murderer at the Mercaz Harav yeshiva and the terrorist with the bulldozer did not represent an organization. Worse still: They reflect the mood of thousands of residents in Israel's capital. A terror organization can be tracked down, declared illegal and its leadership can be arrested. Discontent that originates at the grassroots needs no guidance, is not controlled by anyone's decisions, and it is much more difficult to contain. This is the way it was in the first intifada, and to a certain extent also in the second intifada. The organizations did not create the wave. They rode it.
A young Palestinian living in one of the neighborhoods that have been left on the outside of the separation fence tells me that every morning, on his way to work, as he observes the masses of people waiting at the checkpoint, he wonders why there are so few terrorist attacks. And this from a man who sends his children to summer camp with Israeli youth.
By coincidence, or perhaps not, both murderers involved in attacks in Jerusalem came from neighborhoods on the dividing line, where residents' lives have been changed completely by the fence, which was drawn short-sightedly and without sensibility. The wall enveloping Jerusalem, whose length totals 170 kilometers - more than the distance between that city and Haifa - has cut off most Jerusalem Arabs, primarily those living west of the fence, from their brethren in the West Bank. Some 60,000 people, left outside the fence, have been separated from their livelihoods, schools and hospitals in Jerusalem.
The steadily creeping annexation by Jewish neighborhoods of East Jerusalem, including the holy sites and the Old City - with complete disregard for the Americans' requests - blurs the difference between the reality in "unified" Jerusalem and the occupation in the West Bank. From a political point of view the situation of the residents of East Jerusalem is better than that of their neighbors in the West Bank. While in Ramallah there is an illusion of Palestinian rule, in Shuafat the Palestinian Authority has no hold. Israel is not fulfilling its commitments according to Part A of the road map, which requires that Palestinian institutions in East Jerusalem be reopened, and it is undermining the formation of a local political leadership.
The public debate surrounding the razing of the family homes of the two murderers is distracting attention from a much more serious issue. The question is not why the families of Jerusalemite terrorists should be treated in a way that is different from that which Israel has shown families of terrorists from the West Bank. The question needs to be whether there is genuine justification for treating them differently. Is there really any difference between those who received blue (Israeli) identity cards, and the residents of the West Bank? Did the National Insurance payments on the one hand, and the supervision over Palestinian immigration on the other, actually alter the aspirations of Jerusalem's Arabs, or did the policy of "unifying Jerusalem" fail?
After 40 years, the time has come for politicians to understand that destroying more Arab homes and building more houses for Jews will not transform Jerusalem into a more united city. In Jerusalem, like any locale situated between the sea and the Jordan River, a binational reality exists, in which one ethnic group rules by force over another ethnic group. Historically, Israel's governments have treated Jerusalem's Arabs as hostile surplus. The policy of "enlightened occupation" was adopted in their case, even though it has been proven bankrupt in the rest of the territories, and these people were expected to appreciate this and become loyal residents of the Zionist entity.
Many years ago, a U.S. diplomat who served in Jerusalem said the following about the Arabs of the city: "You will not be able to break them or buy them."
Razing two homes in Jerusalem will destroy yet another superficial division between Palestinians and Palestinians. Perhaps this will help us understand that an accord in the West Bank, without a solution in Jerusalem, is a dangerous illusion.