More Must Be Done to Combat Crime in the Israeli Arab Street

Isn’t it time to put the Islamic State at the top of the Israeli Arab leadership’s agenda and to declare a universal humanist revolution in our schools?

Joint List Knesset members at a press conference in February 2015 (from left): Masud Ganaim, Ayman Odeh, Aida Touma-Suliman, Ahmad Tibi, Dov Khenin and Jamal Zahalka.
Avishag Shaar-Yashuv

Every Palestinian who lives here has a warm place in his heart for Kafr Qasem, 49 of whose citizens were massacred by Border Police officers in October 1956. On Thursday we awoke to the news that the tires of nine buses in the city had been punctured; pasted on their windows were enlightening letters of darkness, warning against a mixed-sex trip to Mount Hermon. A bullet was attached.

Why Kafr Qasem, of all places? Why should this happen in this bereaved city, the mere mention of whose name has our hearts pounding with emotion, rage and solidarity? Really, what is happening to Arab society in Israel? Not only is violence on the rise, religious extremism is also overflowing. The same week there were also, as usual, a few gunfire incidents, one attempted bombing and more.

It is all very worrying. The police, Ynet reported, issued a laconic statement: “The Israel Police received a complaint about tires being punctured on a number of buses and is investigating.” None of the frightening elements was there, neither the threat nor the bullet. An alien reading the statement might have thought it a prank.

The Arab community lives with the sense that its personal security has been violated, and that the police is behaving like a UN observer in this case, prating with equanimity about a “complaint.” With an attitude like that, the day isn’t far off that the police will issue a statement, laconic of course, that it had received another “complaint” about people dying. That is the dream police force of every criminal.

For the sake of good order, here are some interesting conclusions. Whereas 49 people were murdered in the Kafr Qasem massacre of 1956, since 2000 a total of 1,100 Arabs have been murdered by other Arabs in Israel. In other words, in each of the 15 years there were more than 70 victims of Arab-on-Arab murder.

At this rate we should be begging the state with all our might to reappropriate to itself the job of murdering Arabs. The results speak for themselves. Furthermore, the vast majority of these murders remain unresolved. Indeed, every Arab with a weapon has (practically) carte blanche to kill other Arabs. The punishment meted out to Issachar “Yashka” Shadmi, who gave the order for the massacre in Kafr Qasem, boiled down to a slap on the wrist. Since then, things have only got worse: We have murder victims, but no murderers.

And after all that, along comes Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to impose order. Knesset member Ahmad Tibi, the loud, clear voice of the Arab population as a whole, begged the police to collect the guns — it’s what the Arabs want. But according to Tibi, the police have turned the task of confiscating the guns into a campaign of harassment, issuing traffic tickets, which the Arabs will probably find objectionable.

The other party to the issue, the Arab leadership, just sits there complaining about the violence and the spread of the dangerous ideology of the Islamic State organization, which young people are joining. But the real question is this: Isn’t it time to put the Islamic State at the top of the Arab leadership’s agenda, so as to fight this dangerous development?

Isn’t it time to declare an educational revolution in order to instill universal humanist values in Arab children from kindergarten through 12th grade, in light of the toxic propaganda to which they are being exposed from every computer, every smartphone, every television set?

Wake up, people! Soon we won’t even recognize ourselves when we look in the mirror.

The anarchy that began on the Arab street in Israel, and before that among the settlers in the occupied territories, is advancing toward the Jewish street. That is the nature of snowballs, to expand and roll over anything in its path. And when espionage as well is outsourced to organizations such as Im Tirtzu, a more “patriotic” organization may also be tempted to mete out punishment. Consider yourselves warned.