Figuring out what's happening

 Israelis are accustomed to not knowing what's happening. With the most thoroughgoing security arrangements in western democracies, there is a lot they don't tell us. The military experience most have had provides its own lessons on the workings of a high compartmentalized organization, and realizing that there are things we do not have to know.. 

We're also familiar with snafus, mistaken intelligence, and inflated officials intent on covering their asses.

It's common to hear in vague terms that something has happened, but with the police or military clamping a lid on the details. 

Currently we are trying to figure out what's happening on the front of Arab violence, and what's happening with that gas deal said by optimists to bring us into the club of the energy exporters.

Officials have admitted to an uptick on attacks by Palestinians, but are still talking about individuals rather than organized violence at the level of a third intifada. Yet some are claiming incitement by Palestinian officials. There are also reports about Qatar's support for Hamas, and a Hamas-led cadre uncovered and neutralized some time ago in the West Bank. Involved in Qatar's story is Azmi Bishara, a Christian Arab, with a PhD, a university lecturer and former Member of Knesset, who fled Israel when security officials focused on him as a source of information given to Hezbollah about Israeli military arrangements during the Lebanon War of 2006. Bishara became a media personality in Qatar, and is said to be prominent among those guiding a young ruler's animosity to Israel.

In the way of deciding that Palestinians are mounting something serious are two of recent incidents suggesting that Israelis had not done enough to protect themselves. One death came at an isolated spot in the West Bank, a water source being visited by hikers seemingly unaware that the IDF had warned Israelis to stay away unless they cleared a visit with the military. Another came from a drive-by shooting late at night on a West Bank road.

Israelis may be right in feeling that they should be safe wherever they wander. However, they should test the theory with residents of large cities in North America and Europe. Or those of us living within a couple hundred meters of Isaweea, and having learned to do our neighborhood walks during daylight hours or the early evening, and nowhere close to Isaweea.

Concern about Isaweea does not signify any crude racism on our part. The neighborhood is prominent in reports as one of the Arab neighborhoods that includes violent extremists among its residents. There have been attacks on Jews who made a wrong turn into Isaweea. One wrong turner was rescued by police; another by residents of Isaweea. There are residents of Isaweea who welcome joint actions with French Hill, and other residents who threaten those who participate in joint committees. We interrupted one attack on a young woman on the streets of French Hill with our yells, and stayed with the victim until the police arrived. We happened on another incident just as it was being dealt with.

We see frequent police patrols on the streets of French Hill, and military patrols on one of the highways to the coast that passes through part of the West Bank, which we also avoid late at night when traffic is sparse. We see police stops of Arab pedestrians and drivers for document checks or other reasons. We presume that there are police or military personnel here and there that we do not see.

Whether or not Israelis are as cautious as they should be, recent attacks have spurred demonstrations.demanding forces.

What's happening in Egypt is also relevant. There have been serous battles in the Sinai, with airstrikes and numerous casualties. Israel has closed its borders with Gaza and stopped the inflow of supplies. It also hardened controls over the movement of Palestinians and their access to Jerusalem's holy places in response to recent attacks, after having relaxed those controls for the month of Ramadan.

There are reports--not detailed--about IDF activity along with Egypt in the Sinai, as well as in Syria, meant to help the Druze and keep the fighting away from Israel's border.

In the context of what's happening close and not so far away, Israelis may wonder if they should worry about their security, be content that their security concerns aren't in the league of people who are not too far away or those of Europeans or Americans who live alongside restive minorities. 

News that the United Church of Christ has signed on to BDS trigger some concerns, as well as memories that worthies of that denomination are the children or grandchildren of those who adhered to restrictive covenants and gentlemen's agreements that prohibited the sale of property or the hiring of Jews.

There is also much to make Israelis wonder about domestic issues. A government holding power by a margin of one in the Knesset is prone to sniping and disinformation. 

There are enough details lurking in the draft agreement about gas to delight cadres of demagogues.

And just as the government was ready for a key decision, the State Comptroller announced that his office was studying the issue, and urged that decisions be delayed until he could issue a Report.

Israel's State Comptroller is one of the world's busiest and most aggressive auditors of governmental activity. His law empowers him to monitor virtually everything in Israel with governmental connections, and that's just about everything in a quasi-socialist society. Like other government auditors, the State Comptroller is report on issues of  economy, efficiency, and effectiveness.  What's unusual is the legal provision that gives the State Comptroller the authority  to judge activities on the basis of "moral integrity." It's a provision that may have come from Biblical Prophets.

Some State Comptroller Reports have exposed serious problems that have led to policy change, or to police and judicial activity and the incarceration of the mighty. But others are rife with the discovery of trivial imperfections in procedure. Reports typically get their day in the media, with many of the details passing to the archives without having made a dent.

The State Comptroller's comment that the government should wait for hos Report before deciding about gas will carry some weight. The convoluted procedures of the State Comptroller' s Office may also.take of time.before there is a final Report.

It's anybody's guess what this does to Prime Minister Netanyahu's assertion that the government must act.with dispatch so that Israel's gas can bring the country it riches.

If the Jews of Israel were not used to uncertainties from their history and family stories, they surely are now.