View from the Hills: Of coexistence, terror, talking rocks (JERUSALEM POST OP-ED) By JOSH HASTEN 05/29/12)
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If only rocks could talk. In Israel they would have a lot to say,
with thousands of years of history embedded in this land: from the
prophets and kings, to the rise and fall of dynasties, to the
countless wars throughout the generations. And in our time they would
tell the story of the Jewish Nation returning, and assuming control,
of its ancestral homeland after 2,000 years in exile.
The rocks in places like Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem would probably
be the most vocal, especially in regard to the Jewish connection to
those areas in which archeologists and historians have pinpointed
sites of Biblical significance, including ‘The Paths of the
Patriarchs,” the burial tomb of Joseph the Oneirologist, and of
course the location of Holy Jewish Temples.
But in today’s reality, Jerusalem along with Judea and Samaria (and
other places in Israel), are inhabited not only by Jews, but our Arab
cousins as well. Following the second intifada, and most recently the
Itamar massacre, a question that literally keeps me up tossing and
turning at night is the true attitude of my average Arab
(Palestinian – a term I have issues using) neighbor visŕ- vis an
Israeli presence, and jurisdiction, in these areas, but ultimately
over the entire country.
While the Palestinian Authority continues to incite the masses toward
violence against Israel via hate education in schools, on television
and in newspapers, and also glorifies terrorism by naming town
squares and summer camps after “martyrs,” I’m curious to know what
percentage of the general “Palestinian” Arab population these days is
brainwashed into believing that Israel is the ultimate enemy, worthy
only of annihilation.
The first “rocks” I would question seeking answers would be the ones
just down the road from my house at the Gush Etzion Junction, in
light of two recent events – both which perhaps would lead one to
reach different conclusions.
One night last week around midnight, as I drove home from Alon Shvut
to Elazar following my weekly pickup basketball game, I witnessed the
tail end of a traffic accident. An Arab motorcyclist was lying in the
road, clearly in pain, after smashing into the back of another Arab-
driven vehicle and being thrown onto the pavement.
The bike had been torn into dozens, if not hundreds, of fragments of
all sizes, and I couldn’t help thinking how lucky he was to have
escaped serious injury or death.
As a near scuffle broke out between the driver of the car, which also
sustained damage, along with his passengers, and the motorcyclist and
his friends who also arrived at the scene, it was a group of kippah-
clad “settler” motorists who stepped in to calm the situation, along
with a “settler” ambulance corp. that was the first to arrive to
treat the wounded motorcyclist. When tensions calmed, it seemed that
the Arabs were grateful for having concerned Jewish neighbors to
restore order and provide medical first-aid.
HOWEVER, IN the second incident a few days later, as hundreds of
cyclists (including myself) gathered just meters from where the
motorcycle accident took place for a water break during an annual
Jerusalem Day bike ride from Kiryat Arba to Jerusalem, an Arab teen
hidden among the riders was caught by a soldier, brandishing an 11-
The soldier, after witnessing the youth acting suspiciously, jumped
on the would-be attacker, most likely preventing what could have been
a fatal tragedy. I didn’t even know the threat existed until reading
about the incident hours later. Ironically, the Arab ended up only
stabbing himself and, you guessed it, was treated by Jewish medics
and hospitalized in a Jerusalem hospital.
So what is the true nature of the state of affairs these days between
the Arabs and Jews in my area or anywhere else in Judea and Samaria?
In separate interviews I recently conducted with both the newly
elected mayor and the former mayor of Gush Etzion, both independently
described an atmosphere of co-existence between the Jews and Arabs in
the area (which would support the events described in the motorcycle
Both also independently admitted that while relations in the Gush
between the two groups is quiet, outside, in other areas in Judea and
Samaria, it’s a different ballgame (which would possibly support the
second incident, as the young attacker was an outsider, arriving from
his hometown of Hebron in hopes of committing murder).
Ultimately then, maybe the answer to my question as to which event
reflects the true reality is “both.” In other words, there are Arabs
who are interested in simply going to work every day, sending their
children to school, and coming home, uninfluenced – able to tune out
the hate propaganda spewed by their leadership.
Then again, it is obvious that for others, the goal remains spilling
as much Jewish blood as possible. A weekly email “terror diary”
compiled and released by the Hatzolah Judea and Samaria first-
response medical organization indicating nearly daily Arab rock,
firebomb and other types of attacks would back this theory.
With both possibilities existing, I’ll continue tossing and turning.
If only rocks could talk.
The writer is a media expert, freelance journalist and the host of
Reality Bytes Radio. (© 1995-2011, The Jerusalem Post 05/29/12)
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