Merchants at Jerusalem’s Mamilla Mall react with shock at foiled Rosh Hashana terrorist plot

"This mall is meant to have Arabs and Jews together to work and shop, so it’s scary that this was planned here," says local saleswoman.

By
September 2, 2013 00:09
3 minute read.
Mamilla Mall in Jerusalem

Mamilla Mall. (photo credit: SHMUEL BAR-AM)

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 Jerusalem.”

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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 shops.

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.”

Amit 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 Mamilla.”

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.”

Yodfat, a 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 said.

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 along.”

Still, while Alda and Yodfat both conceded that they now feel less safe, both emphasized the importance of not stereotyping all Arabs as terrorists.

“We can’t judge them all,” said Alda. “But we must be more careful now.”


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