The Arsons: Israeli, Jewish and Palestinian Politics

Fires all over Israel, only in Jewish areas, not in Arab, and Olam Kminago Noeg [all is as usual], so far as political reactions to the atrocities are concerned. Well, business as usual among politicians and politically-oriented reactions in the media, whether ordinary and social, but what about the Israeli public?, we of course, do not know what polls will show, but who really cares about polls in the Post-8 November era, the era of false polls and President-elect Trump.

One poll did not have it wrong in the US, and it was the one which measured social media reactions, talkbacks, tweets etc. There Trump was on top, and in the case of Israel in the last 48 hours, even a superficial, unscientific survey will give us a clear picture of wide-spread popular anger. Anger directed against the terrorists that is, NOT against the Israeli government and PM Netanyahu. Not totally so though, as the PM is blamed for statements he made, which are ”inflamatory. racist ” and what not. NO in this time-Netanyahu made the right statements, and this in sharp contrast to the shameful statement he made in election night in 2015, regarding the Arab vote.

Blaming Netanyahu now is nothing short of sado-mazochism on the part the accusers. The hard core Left Wing, though far from the majority of Leftists cannot deal with a very sad truth, that there are many, though surely not ALL, or even a majority of Arabs both within Israel and in Judea and Samaria whose hatred is such, that they resort to this form of warfare,so instead they blame the Jews and especially Netanyahu. The knee-jerk anti Netanyahu reaction , in this case, is yet another effective ammunition for Likud and the rest of the Right Wing in the next elections, which will not be held in the scheduled time of 2019, rather much earlier, as is the case with flawed political tradition in Israel. Late PM Eshkol said in 1966, after the early acts of terror by Fath against Israeli civilians [yes, prior to the ”occupation”, prior to the settlements…], Hapinkas Patuach Vehayad Roshemet[The notebook is open and the hand is writing], and in the next elections, many Israeli voters will remember and the hand will cast votes , but not for those who turn a national disaster inflicted by enemies into a cheap, outrageous gain.

There are others who were supposed to be in the forefront of public outrage at what is happening, at least as can be judged by their names. . For example, the group called Rabbis For Human Rights, and the American parallel group called Tru’a. These people protest as vocally as one can imagine, whenever there is any incident in the Territories when settlers uproot an olive or lemon Palestinian tree. Guess what, they are right to protest, and I, for one, being a son of a farmer, can symphatize with such a protest.

But now, when a sustained campaign to burn entire neighborhoods is in place, ”our” Rabbis are so quiet, and what a noisy quiet it is. The noise of totally flawed morality, the noise of a new religion emerging not so slowly, but surely, outside Judaism as it existed for thousands of years, the religion of Tikkun Olam. For these rabbis, Olam is Palestinians, Olam is everybody else in the world, but not Israeli Jews. These do not subscribe to the most basic feature of Jewish life and history, that of Jewish solidarity, that of ”Kol Israel Are Arevim Ze Laze”[All of Israel care for each other]. It is a moment of truth for these groups, and now we cannot be wrong anymore, no more illusions of national solidarity, it is ”us”, those who care for Jewish life, and ”them”, those who do not, the ones who care only for the Palestinians.

Palestinian-Arabs are responsible to the current mayhem directed against Israeli civilians, mostly within Israel in its pre-1967 borders. Many Palestinian-Arabs, both Israeli citizens and in the territories, condemn the atrocities, and the blame is, by no means, a COLLECTIVE blame, but that said, it should also be emphasized, that sustained campaign of deliberate arsons is not a novice in the history of the conflict.

In June 1988, 6 months after the beginning of the first Intifada, there were 722 cases of deliberate fires in Israel and in the Territories; The figures are staggering-95, 897 dunams of grazing and barren grounds were destroyed[1 dunam is 1/4 acre]. 44,449 Dunams of natural forest and 8,876 dunams of planted forest were also set on fire.[all the data from a book I published in 1989, called-Between Jew and Arab-Unraveling the knot].

There are other examples from the Arab rebellion of 1936-9, the post – UN Partition resolution of 29 November 1947 and other periods.It is a tactic of their struggle against us, which became a strategy. We are witnessing now another chapter of this strategy in place. Sadly enough, we are not united anymore in face of this campaign. The word ”WE” assumes a new meaning. ”WE”mean just part of the Jewish people. I hope it is a vast majority of the people, am afraid though that it isn’t anymore.

About the Author
Dr Josef Olmert, a Middle East expert, is currently an adjunct professor at the University of South Carolina