Nir Nahshon was travelling from Hadassah Hospital on Mount Scopus to Ma’aleh
Adumim last Sunday when, in his words, he “met death face-to-face, and it stared
me in the eye.” The 28-year-old, misdirected by his GPS device, found himself in
Isawiya, an Arab neighborhood just outside Jerusalem’s French Hill, inside
sovereign Jerusalem city limits.
A 11-year-old boy spotted him and
started shouting “Yahud, Yahud” (Jew, Jew). That sufficed to draw a
crowd. Some people began hurling cement blocks at Nahshon’s car. Molotov
cocktails followed. Then he was pulled from the vehicle, beaten and kicked.
Nahshon said later he feared his life was about to end in the same gruesome way
that it did on October 12, 2000, at the start of the second intifada terror war,
for two reservists – Yossi Avrahami and Vadim Nurzhitz – who had strayed into
More than many other terrorist atrocities, the Ramallah
lynching is deeply ingrained in the psyche of Israelis. The killers’ gleeful
viciousness is hard to forget. Details of appalling bloodshed often fade from
memory, but not so the ghastly homicide of the reservists, who were surrounded
by a screaming mob, dragged to a police station and beaten to a pulp. They were
stabbed, disemboweled and their eyes gouged out. One corpse was tossed out the
window, whereupon the crowd stomped on it and set it on fire. The brutality was
emblemized in a photo showing one of the perpetrators, Aziz Salha, jubilantly
waving his blood-soaked hands from a window of the building to the frenzied
But, as Nahshon’s case illustrates, the readiness to resort
to violence against an Israeli whose “crime” was merely to take a wrong turning
into an Arab neighborhood persists, even amid the relative calm that prevails
today over the pre-1967 Green Line. Self-evidently, such hostility is fed by the
steady dose of incitement and demonization of Israel that so often pollutes the
official PA media, its educational system and mosques. A young schoolboy’s mind
was so poisoned that he exhorted passersby to “kill the Jew,” and many locals
responded with alacrity.
Nahshon might well have met a dreadful fate had
it not been for Isawiya’s courageous mukhtar, Darwish Darwish, who took him into
his home and shielded him. The rescuer feared his own house would be targeted
next. He said later that moderates were unprotected because the police were
loath to enter Isawiya. Somehow Nahshon was smuggled out and handed over to
policemen waiting outside Isawiya’s perimeter.
Last November, three
students from Givatayim and an Australian friend lost their way in the dark in
the same area, en route to a pub. They too ended up surrounded by an Isawiya mob
baying for their blood. With blocks, stones, pipes and assorted projectiles
hurled at them, the four somehow avoided being pulled out of their car and
managed to get away.
Ambulance crews report frequent assault when
summoned to help Isawiya’s own residents.
And it’s not only
A few days ago, Jewish mourners visiting their mother’s grave at
the Mount of Olives cemetery were attacked at close range by stone-throwing
Arabs. A young girl was injured. Such attacks are a not uncommon occurrence at
this ancient, sacred site.
Last month, five policemen were wounded at
A-Tur after rocks and firebombs were thrown at them.
ALL OF these cases –
and there are numerous others – occurred inside sovereign Israel. The grim
concern is that any Jew in a predominantly Arab area may find himself in mortal
danger. Make a wrong turn, and your life could be at risk.
intolerable situation highlights how dismal has been the deterioration in
relations over the past few years – how stark a contrast to the period before
Camp David 2000 and the subsequent Arafat-fostered terrorism when tens of
thousands of Israelis did their weekly shopping in the West Bank without having
to fear for their lives.
It also underlines the lost deterrent of our
law-enforcement authorities. Where police are unwilling to enter, hostile
pockets of potentially lethal danger are created for anyone who unintentionally
No law-enforcement hierarchy in any city should allow itself
to become reconciled to consistent, potentially deadly attacks against a segment
of the population. Reducing widespread Palestinian Arab hostility to Jews
requires a change of mindset from Palestinian opinion-shapers, a protracted
process of education for reconciliation. The sooner that starts, the better.
Meanwhile, however, Israel’s law-enforcement hierarchy is obligated to protect
ordinary Israelis from the violent consequences.