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.
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.