Under siege: Israel fears its Arab citizens

Sunday, March 27, 2011 |  Ryan Jones

The international mainstream media has a fixation with presenting Israeli and Palestinian Arabs as living under siege from the “oppressive” Jewish state.

The reality is that Israeli Jews are the ones living under siege.

Israel itself has been under siege (sometimes militarily, always economically) from the surrounding Muslim Middle East. But even within their own borders, Israeli Jews live under siege from an Israeli Arab population that does not fear, but is feared by, the Israeli police.

It is no secret to anyone living here that Arabs in Israel can go where they please, when they please, with little or nothing to fear from Israeli Jews. This is evident by the fact that public venues in Jewish-dominated towns and neighborhoods are always so full of Israeli Arabs.

The converse is not true. Israeli Jews must be extremely careful entering Arab-dominated areas, and are even barred from going into some towns and neighborhoods (particularly in Jerusalem) for fear they would be lynched.

The experience of a leading Israeli journalist this past week demonstrated that this deplorable situation is not about to change, and is likely to get worse as the Arabs become increasingly radicalized and bold, and the Israeli police become increasingly fearful.

Kalman Liebskind is an investigative reporter for the Israeli daily Ma’ariv. He has broken major national stories, and so is well known to most Israelis, and certainly to the police.

In his most recent column, Liebskind recounted how while driving to his home in a central Israeli town, he and his family came under attack from Arab stone throwers.

The assault occurred just a hundred yards from Liebskind’s home in Gimzu, a suburban neighborhood of Lod, which sits adjacent to Ben Gurion International Airport.

“I could hardly believe it was true,” Liebskind wote. “Rocks? On our road? An asteroid hitting us seemed more probable than rock throwing 100 yards from our home.”

The first stone hit the car behind Liebskind, which was being driven by his wife, and in which some of his children were traveling. When he turned around to gather them, Liebskind’s car was also hit. He identified the assailants as two youths, who quickly retreated into the nearby forest.

Liebskind and other resident of Gimzu called the police, but were frustrated by the long wait they were made to endure. When the police finally arrived, then entered the forest together with Liebskind and two other neighbors so they could identify the stone throwers.

The Jewish band was surprised to come upon a group of about 20 Israeli Arab males gathered around a large fire. Most were young men, youths really, but there were also a few “elders” wearing Islamic clerical garb.

To his horror, Liebskind recalled, the Arabs threatened, “If we want to, we can burn all of Gimzu.”

The reporter noticed that the Arabs, who said they had just come from a mosque service in Lod, had spray-painted Arabic writing on a number of trees.

The police did not seem to care, either about the threat or the vandalism, and took the stone-thrower that Liebskind identified into custody.

A friend had tried to warn Liebskind that as clear-cut as the incident may appear to be, the tables would turn on him, as they always do when an Israeli Jew is attacked by and then complains against an Israeli Arab.

“Every time we catch them doing something, they immediately present a counter complaint,” said the friend. “You will soon find yourself under investigation.”

Liebskind laughed off the warning. A few days later, he was no longer finding his friend’s words so ridiculous.

After being summoned to the Lod police station, presumably to clarify a few points in his complaint, Liebskind was shocked to find himself being accused of criminal activity.

It turns out that the group of Arabs had indeed filed their own complaint, claiming that Liebskind had used a weapon to threaten them. Either fearful of upsetting Arabs who were ready to burn down Jewish villages, or simply lacking any common sense whatsoever, the police booked Liebskind before releasing him on personal recognizance.

In his column, Liebskind advised fellow Israelis to stop turning to a police department that is “tired and worthless,” where “officers just want to finish their shift and get home.”

Rather, Israelis who “find their lives threatened by a nationalist criminal element” should do everything possible to protect themselves, said Liebskind. “Don’t turn to the police, they won’t help. They will just interfere and waste your time, and ultimately make you the criminal.”

Unfortunately, it is not simply exhaustion that has made Israel’s police unreliable in such situations. Liebskind’s remark about the police viewing innocent Jewish petitioners as criminals is more on mark.

The Jews living in Judea and Samaria know all too well about Arabs accusing them of crimes they did not commit, only to have police officers fearful of Arab threats of violence accept those accusations at face value.

And the media eats this stuff up.

The sad truth is that if Israelis are unwilling to protect and defend one another, how can they expect the rest of the world, which is predisposed to anti-Israel hostility, to even think of giving them a fair shake?

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