'This whole generation of young people in Jaljulya is screwed up'
Town whose sons are linked to brutal murder searches for answers to violence.
By RON FRIEDMAN
"The mood in Jaljulya is terrible," said a despondent S., an older relative of several of the young men in police custody for allegedly beating and drowning a 59-year-old man out on the Tel Baruch boardwalk in Tel Aviv with his wife and daughter on Friday.
"No one knows how to deal with the wave of violence that has hit the city," he said.
For the citizens of Jaljulya, a town of 9,000 people located minutes away from Kfar Saba, the news that local young people may have been involved in violence came as no surprise. Violence is becoming endemic among the town's youth. Only last week, two young people were gunned down while sitting in their car, early in the morning. Both suffered multiple bullet wounds and one of them died.
S. said that the alleged perpetrators of Friday's crime, five of whom are members of his family, were all drunk and high on drugs.
"A drunk man is a man with no brain," said S. "But drunkenness is no excuse. Anybody who kills, no matter whether Arab or Jewish, should not be given a life sentence but instead taken and shot on the spot."
He said that one of the suspects was a full-blown alcoholic recovering from a car accident.
"His legs are bad and the accident also messed up something with his head. When he doesn't drink, he's out of his mind, and when he does drink he's even more so," he said.
S. also told The Jerusalem Post that two of the other suspects are brothers who recently lost their father who was paralyzed for the last 10 years after a serious accident. He said that the two, ages 17 and 22, had received NIS 40,000 each from the insurance and as a result didn't work and had money to spend on a car and on drugs and alcohol.
S. said that many of the young men in town have girlfriends from the nearby Jewish cities and that often they brought them to town.
"People here don't like to see it, but there's nothing you can really do. This whole generation of young people in Jaljulya is screwed up. It's a shitty age," said S. "There's no big guy to stop the little guys from doing harm. Nobody takes part in their education, nobody makes an effort. Everybody just shuts themselves away into their own homes and does nothing."
S. said that a couple of hours earlier, a message was sent from the town's mosque, calling on people to come together to face the challenges. He agrees that that's probably what's needed, but he does have much hope for the future. "There was a murder last week, and there will be another one in three or four months. It's a lousy village," he said.
While this reporter was waiting for an interview with the mayor, an old man stopped to express his dismay at what had happened and ask that I write that the citizens of Jaljulya all condemn the horrible crime. Every person interviewed echoed the sentiments.
"We are ashamed of this despicable deed and wish all the best to the victim's family," Mayor Jaber Jaber said. "We call on the police to capture all the killers."
"To my great sorrow, no newspaper or television network called my office last week when two of our young men were sprayed with bullets, but today, when a Jew was allegedly murdered, reporters have been calling all morning and a TV crew is coming by at noon," said Jaber.
"Over the past two years, four people were killed in Jaljulya and no Hebrew media organization has ever called the mayor's office," he said. "I know all the young men whose names are linked to the crime. They are good guys with no criminal records and not at odds with anybody, either in the village or outside it. They are all well educated and some are even registered for university," said Jaber. "I don't believe these guys are responsible for the incident and hope that they are found innocent."
Things are not good in Jaljulya, and Jaber thinks that if the suspects were indeed guilty, it is partially because they have become apathetic and despondent because of lack of prospects.
"Jaljulya has no local entertainment spots, no youth centers, not even a park. Young people have nowhere to go in town, so they end up going to the park in Kfar Saba or the beach in Tel Aviv," said Jaber.
"There are 9,000 people on a 1,000-dunam [100 hectare] area. There is a real shortage of land and the government wont approve any more for us. Men in their 20s and 30s don't have a plot on which to build new homes to house their future families, so out of despair they go looking in other directions. Not that it can ever justify violence," he said.
Jaber said that residents get along well with their Jewish neighbors in the nearby moshavim. According to him, 70 percent of the residents work for Jewish employers. He said that Jaljulya schools are aware of the rising violence and because of that, put an emphasis on preventing violent behavior. The schools run special programs together with the local community-policing unit and encourage coexistence by organizing student exchange programs with Jewish schools and holding joint gatherings.
Khatib Ibrahim, the volunteer head of the education department at the Jaljulya Municipality, said that steps are being taken in the city council, the schools and the mosques, but that nothing works because the young people don't listen.
"We see strange norms creeping in. Once the young people would listen to their elders, but now they don't anymore. They take the law into their own hands," he said.
Ibrahim said the parents of the young people were vocally against the drug use and alcohol consumption that some of the young men have taken to, but said that only a small portion of all the men in town drink alcohol and that among them, only a tiny fraction were susceptible to committing violence.
The Arab community as a whole is suffering from tough economic conditions and even in a place like Jaljulya, where the situation is relatively good, the condition leads to desperation, he said.
"The Arab is beginning to feel like an outsider in society," said Ibrahim. "The strength of a state is in its citizens. Israel needs to support us more."
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