In the wake of a wave of vicious brutality unleashed on innocent Israelis by Arab Palestinian terrorists drunk on the lies told them by their political and religious leaders, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu raised the possibility of a serious punishment for the stabbings, shootings and car rammings. The response from some quarters suggest Israelis have no right to self-defense, and should perhaps just turn the other cheek. Wrong religion.
Netanyahu suggested that perhaps it was time to strip Arabs living in eastern Jerusalem of their Israeli identity cards. Most of the terrorists responsible for the recent violence come from almost exclusively Arab neighborhoods in eastern Jerusalem, such as Shuafat and Jabal Mukaber.
What Netanyahu said when he raised the topic two weeks ago during a cabinet meeting was: “We need to examine the possibility of canceling their residency. There needs to be a discussion about it.” Such a discussion was necessary, he said, because it is a lawless area, with “no enforcement.”
The cabinet members decided to hold a special session to further discuss the matter.
Meanwhile, in the wake of the public discussion of residency restrictions, some Israelis say the violence has already begun to diminish.
But having raised the issue of the potential restrictive measure at the height of the violence, the story took on a life of its own. Some Arab outlets already announced that the decision was made and Israel decided to withdraw the identity cards of 80,000 Arab residents of eastern Jerusalem.
In the State Department press briefing discussion about this matter on Monday, of course, the message was distorted as well.
Ever-ready to paint Israel as the evil wrongdoer, Al Quds’ journalist Said Arikat asked State Dept. Spokesperson John Kirby about the security measure at Monday’s briefing.
Arikat said of the proposed security measure, “stripping 80,000 Palestinian Jerusalemites from their identity card, basically cutting them off outside of the wall,” and Arikat sought a response. “Do you have a comment on that?
That’s fine, Arikat is entitled to ask for a comment.
But then he went one step further: “Does that amount to some sort of ethnic cleansing from Jerusalem?”
This is what Arikat does. He introduces a poisonous phrase into the briefing room, a phrase likely to linger in the ears of those so inclined, a phrase that may very well appear in the reports filed by others in the room. It also spurs others to respond to that image, and to ask questions, and give answers, in light of that phrase permeating the atmosphere.
To his credit, initially the spokesperson declined to respond, uttering those magic talking points of the “expectations of all sides that they’ll avoid provocative actions and rhetoric and being to work cooperatively to restore calm.”
But the press group just couldn’t let it go.
Soon, Brad Klapper of the Associated Press stepped in, taking his cue from Arikat. Klapper, sitting in his elder sidekick Matt Lee’s seat, assumed a mien of incredulity, and asked a question as if he were in a session on Applied Ethics instead of a government briefing room.
Klapper intoned:”But rhetoric aside, just the idea of stripping tens of thousands of people of the right to move about where they currently move about, work where they may currently work, travel where they may currently travel – is that something that – provocative or not, is that something you just oppose because you think it’s wrong?”