There are several hot spots around Jerusalem, and Tel Aviv and Jerusalem are squabbling about the cancellation of school trips to the Holy City on account of the violence. Jerusalem politicians are calling their coastal colleagues unpatriotic.
Almost all of the problems are on the edges of Palestinian or Arab neighborhoods (call them what you will). Police units are stationed on the roads out, and keep the troublemakers in. Explosions associated with tear gas and stun grenades are noisy for those of us living nearby, but so far nothing more awesom. Few Jews travel to those places, except to buy at lower prices than available in Jewish neighborhoods. Arab merchants are complaining about a fall off of business, and may become a counter-force against the activists inciting the youngsters to endanger themselves.
The absence of disturbances in the tourist areas of the Old City suggests the capacity of Arab merchants to demand quiet from those wanting violence.
If this represent the onset of intifada, it is so far a pale shadow of what occurred for a few years after 2000. The driver who plowed into people at a transit stop and then was killed by the police is not the stuff of suicide bombers on buses or in restaurants. And for some reason, most of the trouble is centered in Jerusalem rather than spread to other cities or throughout the West Bank. Should Palestinians escalate, so will Israel.
There is likely to be more, especially if Minister of Housing Uri Ariel (Jewish Home) goes beyond thoughts about moving into the tense Arab neighborhood of Silwan. One can defend a Jew's right to live where he wants despite the opposition of neighbors, and--at the same time--hope that Ariel will bi-pass what might be a symbolic step against virulent anti-Semitism, but may carry a high cost in antagonism and casualties.
There has been criticism of an announcement from the American Consulate in Jerusalem referring to last week's killing as a "traffic incident," as well as an official expression of sympathy and a call for a full and transparent inquiry into the death of an American-Palestinian teenager who, according to the IDF, was involved in a demonstration and was about to throw a fire bomb.
Annoying perhaps, but both messages carry the flavor of routine bureaucratic outputs. The Jerusalem Consulate is meant to serve "Palestine," and many of its personnel are local Arabs. Jews who may be overly sensitive are wont to criticize the coolness they receive from employees. My own experience over 40 has never been anything other than correct. More than a half century teaching public administration has cautioned me against expecting warmth from a bureaucrat.
Moshe Ya'alon has received his retribution due to calling John Kerry obsessed and messianic. A half-hearted apology was not sufficient. US officials rejected Ya'alon's requests to meet with Vice President Biden and Kerry during a recent trip to Washington, but he is saying that he had a productive meeting with Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel.
Perhaps cooperation with the IDF is worth something to the US, even though lots of Israelis are convinced that the Secretary of State is worthy of several less than complementary adjectives. Some of the same might also be thought appropriate for the President, but ranking Israelis are learning to control their tongues. One must respect our most important ally.
The Hamas leadership is threatening to go to war if Israel does not loosen up on the shipment of concrete and other construction materials to Gaza.
Insofar as Hamas is claiming victory in the last conflict, they may be free with their words. Yet they should consider how many more victories they really want.
More important may be recent conflicts involving the Egyptian army and police. Perhaps the Gazans along with Sinai Bedouin have been embolden by their easy victory over the IDF. This past weekend they managed a car bombing that killed 30 Egyptian personnel. The immediate Egyptian response is to close its border with Gaza, and plan a sterile zone (no buildings or vegetation) extending some distance outward from Gaza, involving the forced transfer of several thousand residents. This will complicate Hamas efforts to maintain tunnels into the Sinai for the movement of personnel or equipment. Those who worry about the collateral damage recently blamed on the IDF should get ready for much worse from the Egyptians.
The Egyptians have also postponed indefinitely the talks in Cairo between Israelis and Hamas, meant to arrange the reconstruction of Gaza.
For those applauding the proclaimed donations of $5.4 billion for the Palestinians, with about half meant to reconstruct Gaza, the latest news is that little or none of that money has been transferred. From an Arab source--
"The program was launched with high expectations at an international conference in Cairo on Oct. 12, but has run into obstacles, including wrangling between the rival Palestinian factions Hamas and Fatah for control in Gaza and what officials say has been a trickle of promised aid."
The leader of the opposition in the Knesset, Labor Party head Yitzhak (Buji) Herzog, made an appearance on the weekend at which he criticized the government, and said that it was time for an election.
That's what leaders of the opposition are expected to do. Leaders of parties within the coalition are saying that there is no chance of an election any time soon. Recent polls are showing that left of center Labor would increase its Knesset membership from 15 to 17 seats, while right of center Likud, Israel our Home, and Jewish Home would increase their representation from 43 to 54 seats.
A more pressing worry is the barbarism north and east of here. Signs are that it is leaping over well-guarded Israel to other Western countries,
The New York Times published an item headlined "Attacks in West Raise New Fears Over ISIS’ Influence" It cites instances, including planned be-headings, in Britain, Australia, Canada and the US.
"The series of episodes over just the last four weeks is raising new fears about the capacity of the extremists who call themselves the Islamic State to catalyze so-called lone-wolf attacks . . . There is no evidence that any of the episodes were carried out by any centrally organized terror network. But in each case the violence was plotted or executed by individuals moved by the messages of Islamist extremists, and all took place in the one month since the Islamic State began exhorting Muslims in the West to commit such acts."
We hope for the best from the Obama-Kerry team on this, and with respect to Iran's nuclear ambitions.
We will not overlook Ebola.
And we should take account of American sensitivities, especially when in range of a microphone.