Public Security Minister Omer Bar-Lev proved once again on Wednesday that the “government of change,” of which he is a member, heralds no change. Even as a left-wing representative in a sensitive, important role like public security minister, he acts just like his predecessors from the right.
Bar-Lev decided that the defiant nationalist Flag March in Jerusalem will once again pass through Damascus Gate and the Muslim Quarter. Thus he has proven not only the weakness of his stand, but also that he sees himself as public security minister for Jews only. The fate of the Palestinians, their well-being, security and dignity, interests him not at all; he permits them to be trampled on, and perhaps even encourages it.
From Bar-Lev’s point of view, there are no residents in Jerusalem except the Jews for whose well-being he is responsible. He could and should have acted differently – by allowing the march to proceed, but not through the Muslim neighborhoods.
This march has over the years become a violent and abhorrent demonstration of right-wing violence against the city’s Arabs. Last year it helped lead to the launch of rockets from Gaza that resulted in Operation Guardian of the Walls. This year the situation in Jerusalem is again very volatile, and any needless provocation could light a fire and spark another descent into violence. Bar-Lev chose not to hold back the spark.
The Palestinian residents of Jerusalem have not yet recovered from the funeral of journalist Shireen Abu Akleh and the thuggish, scandalous behavior of the Israel Police during that event. The police beating and kicking the pallbearers are not scenes that will soon be forgotten, either in East Jerusalem or anywhere else.
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Now another humiliating, violent event awaits Jerusalem’s Palestinian residents. The police have already announced that restrictions will be imposed on Muslim inhabitants of the Old City due to the march. Would that same police and that same minister allow a similar Palestinian march through the city, 40 percent of whose inhabitants are Palestinians?
The police who violently took the Palestinian flags at Abu Akleh’s funeral are the same police that will now permit this violent Israeli Flag March. This path will never lead to coexistence in the city that was supposedly “liberated” and “unified” 55 years ago.
The above article is Haaretz's lead editorial, as published in the Hebrew and English newspapers in Israel.