Last week, 20,000 citizens of Romania took to the streets to protest against their government following a fire that broke out at a nightclub which left over 30 dead. The very next day the Prime Minister along with his cabinet resigned. We have much to learn from Romania.
Here in Israel, with constant fear in the hearts of major cities, daily attacks and attempted ones, stabbings, stonings, firebombings, vehicular attacks and more, we sit. As the list of dead and injured grows, we come to accept our “lot.” We have become desensitized, drained and hopeless. We sit and watch as, daily, we are terrorized and our government is either incapable or unwilling to fulfill the most basic of duties toward its people: securing them. With each new incident, the shock becomes less shocking, the pain less painful, and we wait for the next report…
The most crucial thing for us at this point is to learn and understand the problem. Only then may we begin to take the necessary steps. The problem is not the Temple Mount. It is not the West Bank and it is not economic in nature. It is the reality of a population within Israel that carries Israeli citizenship and seeks nothing less than the end of the Jewish state as we know it. They proudly wave their flag – the Palestinian one – at any opportunity. Many openly call for the destruction of Israel, while Independence Day is commemorated on a national level as the “Nakba” – the catastrophe. While they refuse to condemn the terror perpetrated against Jewish citizens, their representatives are busy justifying and encouraging it. Commenting on the latest terror attacks in Israel, Israeli-Arab Knesset Member Haneen Zoabi told a Hamas newspaper that “actions by individuals are not enough, we need a full intifada.” No Arabs rose to protest this statement of hers and none asked that she be ousted from her party – the Joint Arab List – which is currently the third largest in the Knesset! In fact, these are the kinds of statements that got her elected in the first place.
This same hostile population, due to widespread Arab employment, has realized the power given them in calling for general strikes every so often “in solidarity with the Palestinian struggle” and recently held a protest and general strike, organized by the Arab Higher Monitoring Committee, shutting numerous businesses and schools throughout the country. Last year, during the Gaza conflict, the Committee of the Arab citizens of Israel held a general strike in all Arab sectors to observe a day of mourning in solidarity with the people of Gaza and to voice opposition against Israel’s military operation against Hamas. These are not a few lone extremists. This is the reality of a population that is educated to hate us for taking what they believe to be their land, in their very schools, homes and media. They consist of our bus drivers, doctors and nurses, judges, city workers, clerks, cleaners and so much more. And, yet, we refuse to recognize the reality of their national aspirations which they are open about.
So much of the terror that strikes Jewish communities is committed by Arabs who have intimate knowledge of the sites in which they attack, often due to them having worked in the vicinity. Let us recall that those responsible for the Har Nof synagogue massacre were Arab employees at the nearby grocery, one of whose sister serves as a social worker for the city. Let us recall that the attempted murder of Yehuda Glick was perpetrated by an Arab employee who worked at the Begin Center where Glick was speaking. Let us recall the Arab chef at Jerusalem’s Café Rimon and the Arab employees at Ramat Gan’s Grill Express who all attempted to poison hundreds. Let us recall that Netanel Arami was murdered on the job by his Arab co-workers as they cut his cables while he was rappelling 11 stories high. Let us recall that the foiled massacre attempts at both the Nof Yerushalayim wedding hall and the Mamilla open-air mall were the workings of Arab employees who knew the ins and outs of the locales.
Many prior attacks were also committed by Arab workers employed by Israeli businesses, who used their positions to aid them. Do you feel comfortable knowing that your local Bezeq employee may have within him the drive to massacre Jews when the time is ripe? Do you feel comfortable knowing that some of your city’s municipal workers celebrate the deaths of our soldiers? Do you feel comfortable knowing that the nurse or doctor treating you at the local hospital may very well be a Hamas sympathizer or refer to us as murderers and vampires, as is the case with Shaarei Tzedek’s very own emergency specialist, Dr. Haitham Rajabi? (He continues to serve as hospital physician due to an apology on his behalf.) One could fill books with incidents of treason, support of terror organizations and aiding of terror activities on behalf of Israeli-Arab citizens. And we see nothing. We are at war and don’t even know it.
The question remains: What can we do? When there is no man, one must be one. It is upon us to take steps and implement practical solutions as a community and as individuals. Of course, pressure should be put on government officials and Jewish leaders. Of course, we should reach out to as many people as possible to help them understand the truth, the root of the problem and the reality of the Arab-Jewish conflict. Of course, we must strengthen ourselves in every way possible and protect ourselves physically. And while there is much to do, there is one step that is crucial and has been long overlooked, which demands courage and the willingness to sacrifice.
We are currently in the midst of creating a society so dependent on Arab labor that it is becoming more difficult by the day to separate from that population. We are creating a country whereby those who are bitter and resentful toward us are a part of our everyday lives and know more and more. We are destroying ourselves with our very hands. While leading Orthodox rabbis, including Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky and Rabbi Dov Lior, have already ruled that it is strictly prohibited to hire Arabs for, among other concerns, it endangers lives, these rulings have been virtually ignored by Yeshivas, Jewish institutions, communities and individuals who, otherwise, turn to these very same rabbis for guidance. Other concerns include the tragic and unavoidable situations whereby Arabs meet Jewish girls at the workplace and the moral aspect of exploiting young and poor Arabs by hiring them for tough labor at absurdly low wages, which merely stains our souls. In any case, we must understand that if Arabs were not employed in Jewish areas, then any Arabs present would serve as a signal for suspicion. But with Arab workers employed throughout Jewish communities, the presence of Arabs who committed terror attacks was not cause for concern for the victims and bystanders just moments before those attacks.
If we begin a campaign to hire Jews, both as a community and as individuals, it will be impossible to stop us. Let us not fear the reactions. Israel was founded on concepts such as Jewish pioneering and Jewish labor. “Avodah Ivrit” (Hebrew Labor) was once a principle we took pride in. Ben-Gurion himself strove for absolute separation of Jewish and Arab communities and economies while calling for exclusive Jewish labor. He too saw Arab riots and general strikes as further proof for the need for Jewish labor. Labor Zionism, as well, strove for absolute separation of Jewish and Arab national communities. While even right-wing Knesset Members today are generally loath to address the perfidy of Israeli Arabs and prefer to safely address non-citizen Palestinian Arabs, it is important to note that, short of the elected Arab Knesset Members, the Knesset itself does not employ Arab workers for any tasks, due to security concerns. That is the Israeli Knesset’s policy today and it is a logical one.
We must realize that we have the power to make drastic changes. If only we resolve to avoid hotels, stores, groceries, restaurants, taxi services, etc. who employ Arab workers, even if that entails more effort on our part, higher costs and sacrificing certain luxuries. If only we begin to encourage the hiring of Jewish carpenters, Jewish builders, Jewish cleaners, Jewish electricians, Jewish gardeners, Jewish movers, etc., only then will we help bring back the pride of our nation and security to our people.
For those who say it is too costly, know that once the red line is drawn, all sorts of ways will be found to accommodate the new reality. Just as keeping kashrut is sometimes both difficult and costly, yet no one would consider partaking in meat that did not undergo shechita (ritual slaughter) and careful supervision, so too if hiring Arabs was perceived as taboo and as immoral as consuming non-kosher meat, all sorts of alternatives will be found. Can one put a price on our survival? Are we so shallow that we are willing to both risk Jewish lives and enrich those who seek our demise all in order to save a few shekels or display what some render as political correctness? If so, can we truly say that our hands have not spilled this blood?