A brief review of Jerusalem’s police blotter for recent days looks like this:
* April 2: Haredi man, 55, is axed by Arab terrorist near Shaar Shechem (Damascus Gate); lightly wounded.
* April 15: Seven Molotov cocktails are hurled at Jewish homes in Maaleh Zeitim, causing a fire in one of them.
* April 19: Young worshipper on his way from Shimon HaTzaddik to Meah She’arim is stabbed by two Palestinian terrorists (moderate wound).
These follow on the heels of the more famous case of a female soldier who was stabbed on Jerusalem’s new light-rail train by an 18-year-old Arab just over a month ago. The terrorist has been indicted on charges of attempted murder.
What lies behind this most recent wave of Arab terrorism? Following the Shimon HaTzaddik attack, Knesset Member Uri Ariel of the National Union party said, “I expect from the police and the security forces to maintain our sovereignty [over Jerusalem] and the holy sites, and to protect the Jewish worshipers throughout the Land of Israel.”
His party colleague (and neighbor in the Binyamin-area community Kfar Adumim, east of Jerusalem) Prof. Aryeh Eldad similarly responded, following the firebomb attack in Maaleh HaZeitim, “The police are abandoning the security of the Jews at the Mt. of Olives.”
The common denominator of both parliamentarians’ responses is the erosion of Israeli control of its capital. Eldad was particularly indignant at the fact that the police came to the Maaleh HaZeitim neighborhood and questioned the guards for having responded so “forcefully” – by firing in the air.
In a letter to Police Minister Yitzchak Aharonovitch, Eldad noted that “firebombs are lethal weapons, and they should be met with live fire…. The worst of all would be if the terrorist who meant to burn Jews in their sleep would continue in his ways while the guards who dared to protect the residents would be fired from their jobs.”
Ironically, just before Pesach a new police station was dedicated in the area. Minister Aharonovitch said at the time that the site of the new station was a strategic one, and that it would enhance the security of residents and visitors alike.
Unfortunately, the residents say the new police presence has not only not helped, it is barely felt. Just last week, several visitors to the gravesite of Eida Hareidit Badatz member R. Moshe Halbershtam on his sixth yahrzeit were stoned by Arabs; one Torah scholar was lightly wounded. A month ago, a bridegroom on the day of his wedding and his friend were similarly stoned by a group of Arabs when they went to pray at the groom’s grandmother’s gravesite. They were treated in Shaarei Zedek Medical Center, and from there made their way to the wedding hall.
It should be noted that it was recently released for publication that the police had arrested four suspected Arab rock-throwers, three of whom were released with restrictions; the fourth is still in custody.
We have reported in these pages before on the efforts to enhance the Jewish presence in, and Israeli control, of the holy and historic Mt. of Olives. Specifically, the International Committee for the Preservation of Har HaZeitim, formed in late 2010, has organized and sponsored several initiatives to this end. Earlier this month, the group ran an event in Yonkers, New York, at which Chairman Abe Lubinsky called on the Israeli government to “come out of the closet” in proactively defending and protecting the ancient cemetery.
Notably, Lubinsky linked Mt. of Olives with the entire issue of the possible division of Jerusalem. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu “must defend Har HaZeitim if he truly cares about an indivisible Jerusalem,”Lubinsky said.
How so? The explanation is simple: Proponents of dividing Jerusalem often buttress their position by citing the Israeli difficulty, or even inability, in enforcing the law in Arab-populated neighborhoods. They also note the lack of Jewish presence in some of these areas. If Arab rock-throwers and terrorists continue to succeed in defying Israeli law on the Mt. of Olives, Shimon HaTzaddik, or elsewhere, while at the same time scaring Jews away from visiting these precious holy sites, pro-division elements will be emboldened and encouraged to strengthen their efforts.
It must be kept in mind that even if a few weeks or months go by without headlines on talks and efforts to divide Jerusalem, the danger is still very much extant. Just as our enemies wish to see Israel erased from the map, they never cease to pine for, at the very least, the division of Jerusalem.
We must do everything we can to ensure this does not happen. We must write to Prime Minister Netanyahu – firstname.lastname@example.org – as well as to Police Minister Yitzchak Aharonovitch – email@example.com – and other officials, expressing our outrage at the continued attacks in Mt. of Olives, Shimon HaTzaddik, and elsewhere in eastern Jerusalem. We must write of this phenomenon to newspapers and to our acquaintances.