You Can't Blame the Police for Everything

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Police at a crime scene in southern Tel Aviv, in 2018.

There is something unfair about placing all the blame for the violence in Arab society on the shoulders of the police; there is also something convenient, cowardly and deceptive about that. If it’s only the police, then society bears no blame – neither Jewish society, which should have unbearable guilt towards the community of survivors who remained here and bear the scars, one of which is crime; nor Arab society, which holds some of the responsibility for the behavior of its sons.

But proponents of law and order want only more police and Border Police and the Yamam anti-terror police and the Yasam special patrol police and of course the Shin Bet security services, or in other words – to restore military rule to the streets of Taibeh. Then quiet will be achieved, and oversight of the Arabs will also be like in the old days: If school principals are once again collaborators with the Shin Bet, we’ll solve the problem.

It’s no coincidence that it is the right that is in the forefront of concern for what is happening in Arab society – here is another opportunity to treat them with a heavy hand, to use force, to arrest, to spy, to wound and even to kill, as in the territories, under the cloak of concern for their safety.

But it isn’t safety for Arabs that concerns the preachers. More than anything else, they want to portray the Arabs the way they like to: bloodthirsty, wild animals, killing one another and, tomorrow, us as well. The response to that is of course force.

“We’re going all-out on this matter,” promised a source in the prime minister’s entourage in Washington, and this all-out is of course only with force. The all-Jewish team of ministers who will handle the issue includes representatives from the Shin Bet, the Border Police and the Public Security Ministry. They know how to handle the Arabs, they’re the only ones who understand Arabs.

Will they put a dent in crime? Perhaps. Will they solve anything? Not a thing. In honor of the celebrations of the 100th fatality, which will take place today or tomorrow, maybe we should remember who we are talking about, what the Israeli Arabs experienced and what they have experienced since then, in order to understand the source of this crime. Or maybe that’s of no interest. They should just sit quietly. Enough of the self-hatred – we had no hand in this.

But we have been behind this for 100 years, incessantly. The crime of minorities is always a result of distress. But the distress of the Palestinians in Israel, the Arabs of 1948 as they call themselves, or the Israeli Arabs as we call them, is far more profound. They are natives of the country who have been disinherited from it. They are a majority that turned into a minority, willy-nilly. Some of them are an elite whose sons have become hewers of wood.

And they are not immigrants. What, for example, is Jaffa, which doesn’t have a day without a shooting? The beating heart of the Palestinian people, which has become a bleeding wound. In 1946 about 60,000 Arabs and 30,000 Jews lived there. Only about 3,000 Muslims remained there after the war. The Arab majority was lost forever.

And who remains there? The weakest of the weak, who were unable to flee, and with them a handful of internal refugees. The Bride of the Sea has become ruins and slums, a refugee camp. Jaffa has been in trauma since then. It’s impossible to ignore this trauma when we talk about crime in Jaffa.

But the trauma didn’t end, it continues to this very day. Those who were able forged ahead impressively, mainly in recent years. Note the data published here this week by Odeh Bisharat: 46 percent of the new doctors of the Jewish state are Arabs, as are 50 percent of its pharmacists.

But along with them there are those who are building our homes and paving our roads, the blue-collar workers on the sides of the roads, and with them the unemployed and those without a future in the Arab ghettoes that are hard to escape. Try to be an Arab and to get an apartment in Ramat Aviv. Try to be an Arab ambulance driver on a Jewish route. Try to go to the park and speak in their language. Try to fly to Eilat. Sometimes it ends well, and sometimes it doesn’t, but the cloud is always hovering over their heads, hardly a day passes without humiliation.

That creates frustration, distress, and finally crime. We Jews are not to blame for everything, and of course we need a police force that will fight crime. But for God’s sake, it’s not only that. Far from it.

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