Tachles: A modern Hebrew word of Yiddish origin that means “to the point.”
An anger has exploded in the country that I have not seen or felt in decades. Everyone is talking about revenge and wanting to destroy the barbaric Hamas regime in the Gaza Strip, and even to flatten that accursed territory. Most Israelis these days generalize and make less of a distinction between the barbaric Hamas terrorists and the rest of the Palestinian civilian population. Among other things, because we have seen again and again how Arab civilians cheered every rocket and other terrorist attack on Israel. That “Black Sabbath” of October 7 was no different. While Hamas barbarians were doing unspeakable things to Israeli men, women and children, sweets were being distributed on the streets of Gaza to celebrate this “victory.” But at the same time we live and work with Arabs, and both Arabs and Bedouins serve in the Israeli army and defend the Jewish state of Israel. Not an easy situation.
“You can’t rely on Arabs. As soon as they have an opportunity and sense Israel’s weakness, they slaughter us all. It doesn’t matter whether they have worked and lived with us before.” This and more has been heard all over the country in recent weeks. In families, among friends and at work. The thing is, we all live and work with Arabs and it affects both sides. A tension grows between people who have known each other for years. Jews and Arabs who have worked together for years feel uncomfortable. In the first few days both sides remained silent, or the Arab called in sick and stayed at home for the first few days. That was the case with us in the editorial office in Jerusalem. Jalal was afraid to come in.
When we met again in the elevator for the first time a week after the massacre, nothing was heard except “Shalom.” Jalal did his job and I did mine. Mistrust and fear has grown. A large part of the construction sites in Jerusalem are empty because Palestinian guest workers from Judea and Samaria are no longer allowed to enter the city. After the massacre, every Arab is suspect, even Israeli Arabs, many of whom also praised the bloodbath in the south on social media. The Israeli police responded very quickly and arrested any Arab citizen who glorified the atrocities of the Palestinian Nazis in the name of Allah on Facebook or Instagram.
But at the same time this strengthened the assertion of most Israelis that all Arabs are intent on destroying us. Popular Arab actress Maisa Abdel Hadi, 37, who has starred in several Israeli television series, films and plays – including Fauda – was arrested in the first week after she posted an unkind image depicting an elderly Israeli woman, who was kidnapped by the barbaric Hamas terrorists.
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On her Instagram Story, Abdel Hadi, who lives in the northern Israeli city of Nazareth, wrote that “this lady is embarking on the adventure of a lifetime” and added laughing emojis. Her Jewish colleagues in Tel Aviv were shocked. This and many similar examples symbolize the disappointment and distrust of the Arabs among the Jewish population.
On the other hand, numerous Arabs and Bedouins in southern Israel were also tortured and slaughtered by the Hamas animals. An entire Bedouin family was kidnapped to the Gaza Strip. There are numerous stories of Bedouins, Arabs and Druze who heroically saved the lives of many Israelis, especially young Israelis from the Nova music festival near Re’im. On social networks, Bedouins and Arabs in the ranks of the Israeli army have published videos in which they harshly vow in Arabic to send Hamas to hell.
Not long after midnight on October 7, 47-year-old Bedouin bus driver Yussuf al-Ziadana dropped off a customer at the Supernova music festival.
A few hours later, at dawn, Yussuf received a frantic call from that same passenger, begging Yussuf to return and get him out of… pic.twitter.com/xKmHgonkdU
— (((Emanuel Miller))) 🌻 (@emanumiller) October 26, 2023
My friend Shahdi from Wadi Fukin in the Palestinian Authority-controlled territories called me several times and asked about my sons and how they were doing in the army. My Bedouin friend in Sinai, Abu Nader, has also spoken to me twice and is worried about us. Of course we can question everything and say they are all lying to us. That now depends on us. Abu Nader and another Bedouin friend in Sinai told me that Sinai has been empty of Israelis since the war broke out. Of course, that was to be expected. Thousands of Israelis were afraid in the first few days and immediately fled home. “Before we kill hundreds of Arabs in Gaza in retaliation, we must leave Sinai,” posted an Israeli on the WhatsApp group Sinai Lovers. He and others immediately cut short family vacations in Sinai and headed back to Eilat. All Israelis were afraid that someone in Sinai would freak out and carry out an attack against them. Everyone rushed to the border and in about 48 hours Sinai was free of Jews.
I want to believe that there are still righteous people among the people of Sodom and Gomorrah, if not many, at least some. Just as Bedouins, Muslims and Druze serve in the Israeli army, I would like to continue to maintain my confidence that there are Muslims who truly want to live with us in peace. I admit that is difficult these days, but necessary. Last week, Bedouin sheikhs in the south announced that they are fully on Israel’s side and will defend the State of Israel against the evil of Hamas. The Arab party leader Mansour Abbas is also a special voice among Arab politicians in the country. He criticized his Arab colleagues who wanted to protest in Nazareth against Israel’s war in Gaza, saying that this was incorrect. According to recent polls, 70% of Israel’s Arab population abhors the Hamas massacre on October 7th.
There are obviously good Arabs in this dire situation we find ourselves in, but trust is at rock bottom. Last week I asked Jalal to have coffee with me. I asked him what he was hearing in the Arab media about the war in Gaza. “Wallah, Wallah. I don’t want to hear anything,” said Jalal. Then I said it straight to his face. “Jalal, what would you have done if 25 Israeli soldiers raped your wife in front of you and then shot her? What would you have done if your wife was pregnant and Israeli soldiers ripped her stomach open with a knife, took out the baby and trampled it on her?” I know his wife, she is pretty and young. He looked at me suspiciously and had no words. Then I showed him clips from October 7th of Israelis being slaughtered. “This is not Islam. This is not our religion,” were his only words. Honestly, what can he tell me? The fact is that he still works for us and sees every one of us in the newsroom with a gun on our belt.
Without reading polls, I am sure that the majority of the Jewish population in this country has lost trust in the Arabs. Reconciliation takes time and wounds heal over time, that’s true, but this time something really terrible has happened and it will probably take much longer.
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