West Bank thugs’ real target: Arab-Jewish amity

If it turns out that the Yitzhar vandals were inspired by teachers in their yeshivas, those schools must be closed.

Moshe_Arens_cropped-150x150By Moshe Arens

Hooliganism, destruction and the defacing of property in Israel itself and in Samaria have angered many Israelis. The most recent act was the destruction of military equipment at an outpost of reservists near Yitzhar in Samaria, the northern half of the West Bank. That act was preceded by the deliberate puncturing of the tires of the local IDF commander’s jeep.

Before that came the puncturing of tires of many residents of the Galilee village of Gush Halav, known as Jish in Arabic. That was preceded in recent months by similar incidents in the village of Abu Ghosh near Jerusalem and a succession of “price tag” acts of vandalism in Arab villages in Samaria.

The attack on the IDF encampment and the jeep stirred a wave of outrage among Israelis. Who doesn’t identify with the Israel Defense Forces, which is charged with defending us all? Who doesn’t have children or grandchildren serving in the IDF? These criminal acts are seen as an affront to us all. As for the vandalism of the property of Israeli Arab citizens and Arabs living in Samaria, that didn’t hit the headlines. It seems to have been quickly overshadowed by other events

No doubt the security forces will take effective action against the hoodlums who did their dirty work outside the Yitzhar settlement. They will be apprehended and tried. If it turns out that they were inspired by their teachers in Yitzhar’s yeshivas, those yeshivas should be closed. That kind of “education” we don’t need. Hopefully, the hoodlums who damaged the cars of the residents of Gush Halav and Abu Ghosh will also be caught and their “teachers” uncovered.

Possibly the same hoodlums are behind these incidents; maybe they are inspired by the very same “teachers.” They are a fringe group that hates Arabs and has no respect for the State of Israel and its institutions. They do not represent Israeli society, but they are causing damage beyond material damage.

Their attacks on Israeli Arabs and Arab residents in Samaria are even more serious than the attack on the IDF at Yitzhar. This damage will take a long time to repair, because it harms the web of relationships between Jews and Arabs that has been woven laboriously over the years.

Peace between Jews and Arabs living between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea will not come from the negotiations being conducted with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas; they lead nowhere. True peace will be built on the growing relationships between Jews and Arabs on the ground — first and foremost on the relations between Jewish and Arab citizens of the State of Israel. That is the real framework for peace.

Great progress has been made here in the last 66 years. After years of military government in regions of Israel populated by Arabs, we abolished military rule and fully recognized the civil rights of Israel’s Arab community, followed by the gradual integration of Israel’s Arab citizens into Israeli society.

The increasing number of Arab youngsters who volunteer for national service and service in the IDF year after year is the most dramatic demonstration of this. Success in this area, if accompanied by an intense effort to improve the welfare of the Arab population in Judea and Samaria, will be a significant move toward the resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

It is this process that the Jewish criminals against Israeli Arab citizens and the Arabs of Samaria are trying to sabotage. The physical damage they cause and the resulting psychological harm will take a long time to heal. They impede progress toward peace and represent a danger to Israel.

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