The Arabs/Palestinians of Israel and the West Bank have another martyr that justifies continuing their wave of demonstrations that began when? Maybe with the recent wave of Jews going demonstrably to the Temple Mount. Now it's a young man, Kheir al-Din Hamdan, killed by the police in the village of Kfar Kana. According to the videos we've seen time and again he emerged from a larger demonstration, seemingly in the height of ecstasy or fury, with a large knife in his hand, yelling Allah Akhbar, and banging on a police van. Three officers came out of the van, the young man may have turned to leave, there was shooting, he was dragged into the police vehicle, and is said to have bled to death.
There may be a legitimate question as to whether the police fired when their lives were in danger. An investigation continues. The context was one of several days of violence, with stones, fire bombs and fireworks shot toward the police at various points points in Jerusalem, elsewhere in Israel and in the West Bank. When the police shot, it is conceivable that they felt themselves in danger. If the demonstrator happened to turn his back before the actual shot, it was a matter of seconds. It will not be an easy call.
Nonetheless, Arabs are calling murder, and justifying days of rage, mass strikes, marches, and more demonstrations of the same kind.
There has been at least two stabbing incidents. Along with plowing into pedestrians with a car, these appear to be the currently stylish ways of individuals expressing their rage. So far, they are still being called individual acts, and not something orchestrated by any higher source. On account of them being individuals, some of whom have seemed to live unremarkable lives until seized by a passion to kill Jews, without a support organization that plans and helps with transport and weaponry, they escape the network of informants managed by security units.
Outside agitators? Probably more likely inside agitators, with Hamas and Jihad leaning Israeli and Palestinian Islamists, including several Arab Members of Knesset, leading the incitement. They are linking the "murder" of in Kfar Kana, to Jews' desecration of al-Aqsa Mosque by their presence on the Temple Mount.
The history of Kfar Kana adds to the emotions. The Border Police opened fire on residents returning home from their fields on October 29, 1956. The residents were not aware that a curfew had been declared. Forty-three people were killed in the initial incident, and another six in clashes that lasted through the evening. President Rivlin spoke at the anniversary of the incident last week. He called it a "terrible crime," and said that “The Arab population in Israel is not a marginal group . . . We are destined to live side by side and we share the same fate.”
Intifada or not, a change is likely to come if buses and restaurants start exploding along with their suicide bombers. Should that happen, then it probably won't be too long before buildings in the West Bank begin to explode. Some Palestinian cities may look, once again, like those of their cousins in Gaza.
Arabs are likely to lose a lot more than Jews, which may be keeping Fatah, Hamas, and other organizations from doing more than encouraging individuals to act on their own. Meanwhile, Arabs as well as Jews are suffering from the prospect of violence close at home and its consequences.
Recent incidents contribute to Israelis' sense of encirclement. Prominent is the recognition of a Palestinian state by Sweden, and the threats of other European countries to join the movement. Among those adding to the mood are spokespeople associated with the White House, who report that they hear from several Europeans that their governments are about to recognize Palestine. The claim, perhaps acceptable in the White House, is that such actions will spur the parties to respond to another Obama-Kerry initiative.
We've been here. We've done this. Who knows how many times?
Each Palestinian death is a time for screaming women, threats of revenge, prominent Palestinians urging more, and claiming justification for doing away with Israelis beyond the 1967 borders or altogether..
Not too long ago it was Hamas' celebration of civilian deaths in Gaza, at least some of them caused by using human shields for their munitions and military actions, with photography and reports about the carnage required for the journalists allowed by Hamas to operate in Gaza.
No doubt there'll be Americans and others, including Jews, who compare the incident in Kfar Kana to what happened in Jefferson, Missouri, demand holding the police responsible, and concluding that Israel has earned the condemnation of the world.
Against that is the view that anyone who participates in a violent demonstration is risking injury or death. Crowds, noise, smoke, the screaming of curses, wielding a large knife, stones, fire bombs or other weapons within a few inches of security personnel stretches their capacity to respond exactly as trained.
Early on, the Prime Minister exonerated the police. A professional inquiry is yet to conclude, and will determine what comes next from Israeli officials.
As I'm writing this note, there is a balloon with camera above Isaweea, and most likely other activity alongside or above the problematic neighborhoods of Jerusalem.
Perhaps the larger violence throughout the region (Syria and Iraq, with Egypt having to act against Hamas and their Bedouin allies in the Sinai and in the heart of its country), as well as Ukraine and Russia, will feed into the thinking of European and American governments, and take more attention than Israel and Palestine from international media. Yet Israel is its own magnet, not the least on account of its openness to media and the decency of accommodations available to journalists.
There is an element of pro forma in some demonstrations. Several have passed quickly with chants but limited screaming and no bloodshed. Their participants went back to work, to coffee houses, or to their classrooms. Most Israeli Arabs and Palestinians of the West Bank and Jerusalem appear to appreciate what Israel provides to them, even those they express the sense of being second class citizens, and object to what they may view has unjust hostility from the police. As in previous periods of tension, individual Jews have been saved from the prospect of severe injury or lynching by individual Arabs. Why? Humanity, or an Arab's calculation of the harm that would befall the community in the case of a killing.
The condition of Israeli Arabs/Palestinians in the context of Israeli Jews is not all that different from that of African Americans.
We can hope that calm will return, rather than individual acts develop into a mass uprising. And that we'll have some time until the next event useful as a trigger to be employed by those always anxious to incite Palestinians violence. Fatah joins the agitation, even while defending itself from Hamas.
The Paradise expected by those looking forward to the Messiah is not at our door. We'll continue with the Jewish experience, until it becomes the turn of the next generation of commentators.
We're about to depart for a brief rest from the land of half-hourly news broadcasts and several profound media commentaries each day. Enjoy the holiday from my notes.