We all know that Israel is a model democracy. It treats all its citizens equally, and therefore, its leaders can run around the world and tell everyone that Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East.
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This week, the security forces destroyed the family home of Abdel Rahman al-Shaludi in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan. Shaludi perpetrated a terror attack on a light rail station in Jerusalem. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered the house demolished, along with the homes of the two terrorists who murdered worshippers at a synagogue in Jerusalem’s Har Nof neighborhood earlier this week.
But what about Yosef Ben-David who, along with two minors, kidnapped teenaged Mohammed Abu Khdeir from the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Shoafat, beat him over the head, tied him up, poured gasoline over him and burned him alive? What about their home? After all, we were taught that in a democracy, there’s one law for everyone.
About two months ago, the Israel Defense Forces razed the home of Ziad Awad, who is accused of murdering police officer Baruch Mizrahi. There wasn’t even a trial. But who needs a trial? Who needs a prosecutor and defense attorney? His family’s home is already gone.
In this very same democracy, a settler from Yitzhar ran over two Palestinian girls about a month ago. One of them died. The settler fled the scene; he didn’t even offer any help. But two days later, the police issued a press statement saying this was an accident, not a terror attack. What an efficient police force! It didn’t waste its time investigating. The driver said he lost control of the car, but regained it after hitting the girls. Simple and logical. Why would he lie? After all, Yitzhar residents are known Arab-lovers.
In the only democracy in the Middle East, the public security minister recommends shooting Arabs without trial, even in the back, even when they’re running away. In this democracy, the mayor of Ashkelon orders that Israeli Arabs no longer be employed in renovating kindergartens, an ugly, racist decision, and Minister Uri Ariel immediately backs him. Ariel also plans to move to East Jerusalem, a city “that is bound firmly together,” as the psalmist put it.
But the very policy of demolishing homes in East Jerusalem actually proves that Netanyahu and Ariel have succeeded in definitively dividing the city. The eastern half isn’t part of Israel. Another law is in force there, not only with regard to home demolitions, but also with regard to the non-supply of services such as sanitation, water, sewage, transportation and police. East Jerusalem belongs in practice to the West Bank. No sane Jew would go for a stroll in Shoafat or Silwan. There are a quarter of a million people there who will never accept us.
Almost a decade ago, then-IDF Chief of Staff Moshe Ya’alon appointed a committee to examine the efficacy of demolishing terrorists’ houses. The panel, headed by Maj. Gen. Udi Shani, recommended halting the demolitions, which at the time were standard practice. There’s no proof that they act as a deterrent, the committee said, but there is proof that they generate hatred and enmity that lead to more murderous atrocities.
Lest there be any doubt, I also oppose house demolitions, on both sides. As the prophet Jeremiah put it, “The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge?”
But that’s precisely why Netanyahu wants the demolitions. He wants to raise the walls of hatred and revenge. His plan (and that of Habayit Hayehudi ministers Ariel and Naftali Bennett) is clear: to blow up any possibility of negotiations, to close his eyes to arson attacks on mosques, to smile understandingly at all the lunatics who want to blow up Al-Aqsa, to encourage construction in the settlements, to settle in the heart of Arab neighborhoods of East Jerusalem, to deprive Arabs of their livelihood, to undermine our sense of security, to deepen the cycle of hatred and bloodshed, to disparage and humiliate Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and to push the entire Palestinian people into a corner – until finally, a war of Gog and Magog erupts, a religious war between Islam and Judaism, in which we’ll throw out all the Arabs, and they can go to hell.
The only flaw in the plan is that the lunatics on the other side are equally certain that in this terrible war, they will be the victorious side, defeating the only democracy in the Middle East.