Security must be a consideration

Jerusalem light rail system

Jerusalem light rail system

Yesterday I complained — yes, I’ve been accused of being negative from time to time — about what seems to be a tendency to ignore the ‘little terrorism’ of Palestinian Arabs, and sometimes even Arab citizens of Israel.

I talked about the stone-throwing that sometimes turns into murder, the use of crime and vandalism as weapons.

There are psychological reasons that Israelis don’t want to deal with these issues, in addition to the practical problems, which I must admit are not simple.

It’s natural to ignore complicated issues that you don’t want to deal with, even if this is irrational and dangerous. Security is expensive, and — perhaps more important — requires focus and attention. It’s easier to just ignore the threats.

There is also a political reason. At the time of the Oslo accords, Israelis were told that peace was just around the corner. They began to relax. Since 2000 it has been obvious to most of them, with the exception of some of the media elite, that this is not the case. But it’s wrenching to go back to the need for constant vigilance.

Here is an example. For obvious reasons I can’t go into detail, but believe me, the details are shocking.

Recently a team of outside security experts inspected the new light rail system in Jerusalem, which runs next to Arab neighborhoods that are known locations of Palestinian nationalist activity. A friend of mine was part of the team. What they found was that the system, bought as a package from a European company, was massively insecure. The design is such that making it secure will be difficult and very expensive. The security people informed the Transportation Ministry and the Prime Minister’s office. Nothing has been done.

The decision to implement a ‘package’ designed for Europe, a package in which the primary consideration was the efficient movement of people and for which security apparently was simply not a consideration, was a serious mistake. The fact that, at least so far, changes to make the system suitable for the Israeli environment have not been made is potentially disastrous.

Ehud Olmert famously said

We are tired of fighting, we are tired of being courageous, we are tired of winning, we are tired of defeating our enemies, we want that we will be able to live in an entirely different environment of relations with our enemies…

To give this the most generous possible interpretation, what it could mean is that it is frustrating to have to devote so much energy to simple survival. Of course, the solution is not to allow oneself, and the nation, to give in to wishful, fantastic, delusional thinking about how our enemies want peace just like we do. That was Olmert’s answer, and it is not an answer.

Israel is not a ‘normal’ country. Peace is not on offer from its neighbors, and will not be for the foreseeable future. Israelis will have to pay attention to security, to send their children to army service, and to do reserve duty themselves.

And they will have to fix the Jerusalem light rail system, or close it.

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3 Responses to “Security must be a consideration”

  1. Shalom Freedman says:

    Israel is sorely lacking in newspapers which engage in real investigative reporting. The Light Rail story is a major scandal which no one has told the story of. I agree it is an easy target , and not secure. But the biggest element of the scandal is that it has exactly worsened considerably the travel situation for most people in Jerusalem. Places which were once arrived at with one bus now can be reached only with a bus, a train, and another bus. Waits are longer than ever before for busses.

  2. juvanya says:

    The light rail is so nice, new, and smooth. I love it! The ticketing system is a bit confusing tho.

    Its just as unsecure as the buses, so what youre getting at isnt really new. Anyone can throw a rock or create an obstruction with the train or the buses.

  3. Vic Rosenthal says:

    It is much worse than buses. For reasons that I won’t go into, it is much easier to create a mass casualty event than a bus. And the design is such that it would be extremely hard and expensive to improve security.