As dozens of armed soldiers conspicuously patrolled the normally tranquil
upscale Mamilla Mall Sunday, merchants working in the area responded with shock
and disappointment upon learning that two Arab workers planned a terrorist
attack for Rosh Hashana.
“I’ve lived and worked in Jerusalem all my life,
so I grew up in this reality,” said Asaf Shevach, owner of Shevach Judaica Art
Silversmiths. “But this is the first time in Mamilla that something like this
happened, and to hear it was planned by Arabs who worked here was very
upsetting, because they are getting a salary and are citizens of
While Shevach was surprised by the thwarted attack, he said
he still felt safe due to the strong security presence that blanketed the area
throughout Sunday. Indeed, numerous teams of heavily armed soldiers could be
seen patrolling the normally serene potpourri of high-end retail
Chaya Soussan, an employee at a Rolex shop, expressed alarm and
disappointment at the planned attack.
“I was shocked when I saw the extra
security at the entrance this morning and they told me two Arabs planned to blow
up the mall for the holiday,” she said. “More than half of the workers in the
mall are Arabs.”
Soussan noted that while the Mamilla Mall was built as a
model of coexistence for Arabs and Jews to work together, she is now cynical
about whether it will succeed.
“You can’t trust Arabs, and Israelis
forget that very fast,” she said. “They could work for you for 10 years or 100
years and the day they can, they will stab you in the back.”
Tal Amit, a
saleswoman at Brands, echoed Soussan’s disappointment that Arabs planned the
attack on the normally tolerant mall.
“I’m already used to this in
Israel, but Mamilla is meant to have Arabs and Jews together to work, shop and
be comfortable, so it’s a little scary that this was planned here,” said Amit.
“You usually don’t see security, but today they’re everywhere.”
added that she believes the arrests prove that the notion that Arabs and Jews
can work together peacefully is naïve.
“We all want Arabs and Jews to be
able to work together, but it’s not going to happen; because the Arabs may want
to be here, but they don’t feel like they can be together with us – even in
Alda, an employee at Big Tom, who asked that her last name not
be published, said she was grateful for a relatively protracted period of peace
in Jerusalem following the second intifada.
“Even though we’re kind of
used to this, since we grew up in Jerusalem, I thought this was very scary,” she
said. “It’s just nice that we had a long time of quiet, and it really sucks that
this happened, but I hope it doesn’t continue this way.”
coworker who also requested that her last name not be published, expressed
concern that the incident would reignite the ubiquitous paranoia that defined
the second intifada.
“In the bad times we had to get on the bus and look
at everyone around us, and I hope we don’t get into that situation again,” she
With respect to the one-time idealization of the Mamilla Mall as a
haven of coexistence, Yodfat said she felt saddened.
“I was really
disappointed and sad that it was Arabs, because they have been very nice to work
with and we got along just great,” said Yodfat. “At least I thought we got
Still, while Alda and Yodfat both conceded that they now feel
less safe, both emphasized the importance of not stereotyping all Arabs as
“We can’t judge them all,” said Alda. “But we must be more
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