Judy Halper
Left is not a dirty word

First, drop the racism

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Police chief Kobi Shabtai was quoted as saying, in a leaked statement, that Arabs are, by nature, violent. “It’s in their mentality.” At the same time, according to a Sunday news report, a program cancelled by Ben-Gvir for being “leftist” had, during the previous government, begun to reduce crime in the Arab sector. That program had made inroads though involving multiple authorities and working to gain the trust of local residents and authorities.

In the absence of any real current plan, the death toll continues to mount. In Haifa, Tel Aviv, near Kiryat Malachi and Ramle, and five members of a family in the quiet village of Basmat Tab’un.

Rather than some sort of inherent tribal warfare, we are looking at a modern perfect storm: Money, opportunity, weapons, discrimination and unemployment among young Arab men, all coming together. Add to that leadership who are interested in containing the problem, at best; allowing it to continue unabated, at worst. They only have to proclaim, publicly, that they are dedicating resources to solving the problem. In private, they can shrug their shoulders, point out the shortage of police officers and set the unofficial policy with a dose of good, old-fashioned racism.

And when the police do get involved, as happened Sunday, the result is two more dead. Even as they chased down and engaged in a shoot-out with members of the Jarushi crime family, two more people were wounded in separate crime-related shootings.

In Basmat Tab’un, the news reporters followed Insecurity Minister Ben-Gvir as he made his way to the town center, only to be met with boos and shouts that he was not welcome there. A man standing in his doorway, watching the event, said: “We serve in the army, we pay taxes like every other Israeli citizen. But we do not get equal protection. If you think this problem can be confined to the Arab communities, you are mistaken.”

And, of course, the crime is not at all confined to the Arab sector. Drugs, protection, political dealings, bribery, drag racing in the South and cattle theft in the North. Victims complain, nothing changes.

I don’t image the heads of today’s crime families are quaking in their Gucci loafers just yet

The police publicly announced they have obtained permission from the Attorney General to use Pegasus-type spy software to catch the criminals; the Shabak is slowly getting involved in spying on Israeli citizens.

And still the murder spree continues.

How will it end? With the Police Chief apologizing for racist remarks or stepping down? With the Minister resigning? Could they just quietly return to the program that was proven to reduce crime and murder? Or, as, it appears, is the plan to bluster in public, add a bit more force for show? Maybe they’ll even make an arrest or two?

I fear that repeats of Sunday’s spectacle – car bombings and high-speed chases, further killing and wounding – could be the result. I don’t image the heads of today’s crime families are quaking in their Gucci loafers just yet.

In separate news, the OECD tells Israel to encourage Haredi men to join the work force by cutting blanket subsidies to yeshivas, to increase education and child-care budgets in Arab towns, and to close wage gaps. That is, they reminded us, once again, that the prescription for creating a thriving democracy for all is in our hands. Crime prevention, gainful employment, creating a more equal society: They’re all tied together, and they are all possible. We only need the political will to make it happen.

About the Author
Judy Halper is a member of a kibbutz in the center of the country. She has worked as a dairywoman, plumber and veggie cook, and as a science writer. Today she volunteers in Na'am Arab Women in the Center and works part time for Wahat al-Salam/Neve Shalom.
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