Who really built the fence?
The recent stabbing of a teenager in the northern Jerusalem suburb of Ramot, apparently by a resident of Beit Iksa, hit me hard. I lived in Ramot for 23 years, 16 of them directly across the wadi from Beit Iksa. All during the intifada when buses were blowing up all over the country, the men of Beit Iksa walked across the wadi and up the steps next to my house to work as laborers, without incident. Often, they passed me by in groups, watching as I tended my fruit trees and grape vines. Sometimes I even offered them fruit, which they smilingly declined or accepted. The sound of their muezzin and darbuka (drums) filled my home. I accepted it as part of the experience of living in this beautiful spot with its rolling hills and apple orchards. In fact, during the euphoria of the Oslo Accords, I even sometimes imagined walking across the wadi to visit and inviting some of them to my home.
I was rudely awakened by the Palestinian Authority election results in Beit Iksa, where Hamas won a resounding victory. Tangible changes soon followed: powerful new loudspeakers aimed at Ramot brutally blasted the singsong call to prayer like a weapon. Home robberies, always a nuisance, steadily grew worse. One night, robbers invaded my home as my son and his wife were sleeping downstairs. The next morning, among other losses, we found two large kitchen knives missing. On another occasion, I watched in disbelief as in the middle of the night a dozen or so men leaped out of the house next door and down into the wadi before police could arrive. My neighbor, who had been away, arrived to find they’d not only stolen everything not nailed down, but also urinated on her bed for spite.
While the police dutifully came and investigated, they admitted helplessness. Under the Oslo Accords, Beit Iksa was governed by the Palestinian Authority. Only the IDF could go in there. And for that to happen, someone would have to do more than steal a computer.
Nevertheless, most of us with homes adjacent to the wadi were adamantly opposed to a security wall between Ramot and Beit Iksa, reluctant to turn our lovely, rural backyard and heavenly view into an ugly border. So instead we put in alarm systems, which regularly went off.
All that changed on October 22, a sleepy Sabbath afternoon, when Zaid Abd al-Rahman, a 20-year-old enrolled in Al Quds University, allegedly took the 10-minute walk through the wadi, entering Ramot with a sixinch knife and attacking the first person he saw, 17-year-old Yehuda Ne’emad, son of the local grocery owner. Viciously, al-Rahman stabbed Yehuda twice in the back and twice in the stomach, doing his best to kill him. As his victim lay in a pool of blood, al-Rahman turned his attention to a twelve-year old girl and her six year-old brother. “I was sure I was going to die,” she later said. “I took my brother’s hand and I ran.”
As a crowd gathered, Rahman, who apparently wasn’t interested at that moment in martyrdom, ran back down the wadi.
Echoing a popular sentiment, Meir Indor of the Almagor Terror Victims Association connected the crime to the ransom paid four days previously to free Gilad Schalit: “The publicity surrounding the deal turned murderers into culture heroes on the Arab and Palestinian street… All this encourages Arab youths to try impersonating the released prisoners, because they know, just as we know, that if they are caught they will be released sooner or later.”
Ah, if it were only that simple! If one could go to sleep a peaceful student and wake up a blood-thirsty killer because of a single act of government policy! The truth is far more disturbing.
Beit Iksa, six kilometers northwest of Jerusalem, has 1,600 inhabitants and two primary schools. Both are operated by the Palestinian Authority. A 2009-10 report by Arnon Groiss of Impact-Se, the Institute for Monitoring Peace and Cultural Tolerance in School Curriculum describes the school books Rahman would have been exposed to as delegitimizing Jews and Israel, denying their historical and religious presence and ascribing to them dubious and nefarious characteristics, as well as assigning full blame to them for the Middle East conflict and stressing the ideal of violent struggle for liberation over peaceful negotiation.
After school, Rahman would have been exposed to Al Aqsa Television children’s programs, like this one: “What do you want to do to the Jews who shot your father?” says the cuddly bear.
“I want to kill them,” a child’s voice pipes up.
“We don’t want to do anything to them,” a little girl shakes her head at the bear. “Just to expel them from our land.”
“But if we slaughter them, they’ll be expelled,” the bear cheerfully corrects her.
“Yes, that’s right,” she agrees.
I suggest you watch this on Youtube, courtesy of Itamar Marcus and Palestinian Media Watch.
Graduating from this kind of education, Rahman enrolled in Al Quds University, with its Abu Jihad Museum, honoring the master terrorist who engineered the Coastal Road Massacre. In 2007, Al Quds held a week-long celebration honoring Yahya Ayyash, the notorious Hamas “engineer credited for numerous deadly attacks and for inventing the suicide belt.”
On March 11, 2011, Al Quds (which has joint programs with Brandeis, by the way) held a celebration of the 33rd anniversary of the death of Dalal Mughrabi, a despicable Lebanese woman who landed on Israel’s coast in a dinghy with a dozen other terrorists, killing nature photographer Gail Rubin and then hijacking a passenger bus which she blew up with a grenade, killing 38 Israelis – thirteen of them children.
“Now we go to a glorious chapter in Palestinian history… ” the Palestinian television announcer says, introducing Mughrabi’s sister, who says: “This is a day of glory and pride for the Palestinian people and a blow to the Zionists. She [Mughrabi] left a note to our father saying to point all rifles at Zionists, so if you haven’t yet…”
The release of terrorist murderers was a bad idea for many reasons. But while it might have emboldened him, it didn’t put the idea of killing Jews into Zaid Abd al-Rahman’s head. For that, it took a village. If the West is ever really sincere about tackling the problem of peace in our area, the first sign will be the halting of all funding and cultural exchanges with the likes of Al Quds “University.” It will be the attention paid to reversing the damage done by years of toxic PA and Hamas brainwashing, the kind that turn young people into monsters.
When the security fence goes up between Ramot and Beit Iksa, as it inevitably will now, we are sure Palestinian apologists, and Al Quds University and its television broadcasting system in particular, will vent its fury at further evidences of Israeli “apartheid.”
But we should all know better who really built this fence.
This article was first published in the Jerusalem Post on 18 November, 2011.