Friday, January 02, 2009

Reports downplay Arab riots across Israel

First, the few headlines I could find:
Protests For, Against IDF in Tel Aviv
Security Forces on Alert
Minor clashes follow e. J'lem prayers
21 activists protesting Gaza op detained

All across Israel during this week of war, Arabs rioted. This happened in Haifa, Nazareth, Vadi Ar'a (Musmus and Um-el-fahem), Jerusalem, Jaffa/Tel-Aviv and other major roads and intersections close enough to Arab villages. This wasn't reported at all in major Israeli media outlets, and not in international media. It was mentioned in "news" forums on the web and in local Israeli papers.

The "minor" clashes in Jerusalem included hundreds of rioters throwing molotov fire bombs. "minor".

The Israeli police had worked some magic throughout this week and managed to contain the rioters and reduce casualties on either sides (Arab or Jewish). This is in no doubt a lesson learned from 2000 when there were Arab casualties of their own riots. It took too long to calm the Arabs - and this time I guess the police would just like to let them vent their hate - let it be visible, all the while not allowing any of it to affect the Jewish population already under duress due to the onslaught of rockets fired at them and their families.

Is it a smart move by the police? Here are a few contrasting point of views:
  • You do not want to deal with mutiny while fighting a war.
  • Who can accept demonstrations and riots in their own country while you are at war? This is not a matter of free speech in a free society, but rather a matter of how do you deal with disloyal populations while the majority are under a threat.
  • Could it be better to allow the Israeli public to view how friendly their Arab neighbors living next door really are? Hadn't the ones with brains already take note on 2000, and in the Akre riots of Yom Kipur 2008?
  • Are the demonstrations really just that - and some reports are exaggerating, therefor this whole post is redundant? (I heard reports of Jews being lynched in Israeli Arab villages and towns as well as mixed cities like Haifa - but cannot confirm)
  • Would all these bad atmospheres simply dissipate once the war is "over"?
  • What choice is left to the Jews in Israel - the majority objects to any "population exchange" despite the fact that Jews were kicked out of Arab countries over the past 60 years. There are benefits to having a mixed society in Israel - both economic ones and from a security perspective. It's the social perspective that continues to worry me.
Well - that's what I think. I see these things as a bit of an outsider who has interest in the situation. This is where I grew up, where almost my entire family still lives. I knew the Israeli Arabs well. I was appalled by their behavior in 2000. I'm less surprised this time around, and had I been more focused then, I should have been less surprised in 2000 as well. There's a long enough history of triablism and hatered by Arabs with Israeli citizenship towards Jews.

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