In the village of Tzur Bahar the going rate for a demonstration is 50 Shekels or one Jordanian dinar for each participant. The menu will include burning tires and stones thrown. Cursing, spitting, and general shouting is free. There is no guarantee that the paid for demonstration will turn into a full-fledged riot with gasoline bombs and counter fire by Israeli troops. However, for TV journalists there will be sufficient footage to satisfy their editors.
There are, of course, incidents that are of a more serious nature where the entire village will erupt into deadly violence without payment. The killing of a 15 year old girl, Tirza Porat in the village of Beita was one such incident. Children on a Passover hike would hardly expect to encounter a well-staged operation to kill them.
Although Chief of General Staff, General Dan Shomron offered a rather limp and transparent explanation indicating the villagers intended no harm. While one can understand his desire to dampen down the anger of the country, does he really expect anyone to believe that the rocks stockpiled up on the roofs were innocent?
Apparently, the plan involved two stages. One by dozens of Arabs to stone the children in the open field, then herd them through the village with the appearance that this was a safer route out of trouble.
The second stage involved several hundred villagers who climbed to their roofs and hid themselves from the approaching children. As the children were guided through the narrow streets, the hidden villagers began to hurl heavy stones, cement building blocks, roof tiles, etc. that had been gathered and pre-positioned for just such an opportunity. The gathering and raising of the heavy stones had taken time and would be known to every adult and child in the village.
Although there were a few villagers (Less than 10) who attempted to protect the children, no one warned the group to stay out of the village.
The loudspeakers from the mosque announced that a group of Jews had been caught and the call in Arabic “Itbach Al-Yehud” (Kill the Jews) was proclaimed. In a word, the entire village had planned and executed pre-meditated murder.
There are those in Israel that would say that the entire nation of Israel should conduct themselves with righteous anger and level the village of Beita, transporting its inhabitants across the border. Others say that the two guides, Romam Aldubi, 26, and Menahem Ilan, 55, should have been wiser and not taken the trip at this time…concluding that the death and injuries were to be expected and therefore, accepted.
What will the government do now that this spectacular demonstration has taken place? If past experiences are an indication of the future, we could have guessed the result. First they deliberated; after about a week they gathered up 50 or so of the stone-throwers and brought some of them to jail; others were released. Six with past records of violence and incitement were deported and the army knocked down a dozen houses. The country groaned at the unfairness of the modest punishment. The Arabs will take this as another sign of Israeli weakness and likely push for a more severe test of Jewish tolerance. As children test their parents for the limits allowed to them, so too will these children, with hate and murder in their hearts, test the Israeli government.
Unfortunately, the government, through the directives of Defense Minister, Yitzhak Rabin, have conducted themselves in a way that relies on anticipated world opinion instead of solving the problem. With each incident followed by a vacillating weak response, the Arabs both in Israel within the Green Line and in the territories are led to believe that their actions are the correct ones.
With each retreat by Israel, the confidence of the Arabs advances. They are learning a lesson at the hands of their Israeli instructors that killing a Jew brings modest but bearable punishment. They observe that Jews will punish their own with greater severity than those who provoke retaliation.
The Jews have learned the lesson of judicial pursuit, especially the soldiers. Both civilians and military would rather shoot into the air, risking their own lives and the group that they may be protecting, rather than defend themselves with the high probability of being sentenced to a term in prison for using “inappropriate force”.
Soldiers and civilians, people of good character who did not go out of their way to provoke, innocent passengers in a passing auto or bus, young couples hiking, soldiers hitching a ride or merely a young boy caught alone and covered with stones to die. These people did not attempt to anger, but were nevertheless sentenced to die, innocent though they may have been.
The village of Beita will go on existing as a symbol of the growing folklore of the Arab uprising against the Jews. The Jews will slowly grow more fearful of traveling in their own country, on any side of the Green Line. No one will take a small road into the countryside to see the flowers after the rains. The Arabs will speak of the heroism of the villagers of Beita and how they faced down the Jews. There will be other villages where the courage and excitement will cause them to attempt to gain new pride by executing their own spectacular event.
The Christians always characterized the Jews as a cowardly people. Mohammed proclaimed in the Koran that the Jew was to be viewed as the Dhimmi, a contemptible and cowardly people to be despised. Perhaps they are right, for surely we are demonstrating that our willingness to hold the land is weak at best. The Utopian dreamers are shocked when Mahmoud Darwish, a renowned poet and Palestinian dove, stated “Leave the Land and even dig up your dead and take them with you.”
This conclusion was not a matter of leftists vs. rightists. It is simply a matter of observing the unbroken spectrum of Arab behavior and thought. Any thinking, historically-educated person would observe that the Arabs treat each other with suspicion and cruelty. Should they do less for the Jews they hold in such contempt?
Israel faces some serious decisions, unless it wishes to “Pack its Bags for Babylon”. The surrounding Arab nations have not changed their minds with respect to eliminating the State of Israel. The Arabs inside Israel have made clear that they will not behave as loyal citizens, but instead must be regarded as a clear mortal threat to Israel citizens. Those who live in Tel Aviv will not go to Jerusalem for fear of rocks. Parents will not take their children to the countryside with an easy mind. Those who go are armed and watchful.
We hear reports on the same day as the Beita incident of a woman in Herzlia being dragged into a car by several Arabs with evil intent, who fortunately escaped. Is this the life that Israelis must now lead? No travel unless armed guards accompany children being bussed to school, not walking the streets for fear of being attacked and possibly killed….. And if not, what are we going to do about it?
There are, of course, spontaneous riots which can become quite vicious. The crowd moves from mere stone throwing into a mindset of destruction and murder, if they can. This has happened numerous times, even when a fully armed patrol was their target.
Why have so many attempted to explain Tirza Porat’s death, not in terms of youngsters being on an innocent hike, but rather of a sinister plot to in effect, provoke a riot. Was not the route that of hikers for years? Was this not the week when the whole country headed for the fields?
Granted Romam Aldubi was a forceful religious person, but was his ultimate plan to go out with one single clip of ammunition to face off against a hostile Arab village?
We observe Chief of General Staff, General Dan Shomron holding forth for a one hour talk show, speaking as if he had all the facts. By taking on the role of an ill-informed diplomat with the intentions of lowering tensions, he weakened his standing on future pronouncements and made the IDF look foolish.
Many were smirking knowingly when Romam Aldubi’s M-16 rifle was identified as having fired the shot that killed Tirza Porat. It was a sweet and short lived victory because the pathologist would only say that the bullet had not been found, but it was from a high velocity round.
The children said that Aldubi was wrestled to the ground and his rifle taken from him…and that “Aldubi was not firing when Tirza Porat fell”. Perhaps the shot came from a low angle near the ground as dozens of hands were pulling at the rifle. Or, did Porat start to fall, changing the angle of her head so that another bullet from another gun struck her. One teenager, Arik Avivi, said he saw a masked Arab with a Kalashnikov rifle standing on a rooftop during the clash and heard shots.¹ The IDF official report claims that “the possibility that an additional weapon was used against the hikers during the incident at the center of Beita village was not proven.”² (There was at least an hour between the time of the shooting and the arrival of the IDF forces in which evidence could have been hidden.)
Perhaps we will never know who fired the shot that killed Tirza Porat. What we do know is that Arabs are rioting all over the country against well-armed soldiers. Why pretend that this particular group of children had the evil intentions of starting trouble? Why are those who call for peace so gleeful when they think there is an opportunity to pile allegations against the settlers’ children and Romam Aldubi as provocateurs, thereby confirming their hostile conclusions?
Have we really grown so ugly that we are perfectly willing to sacrifice each other merely to add weight to our political convictions?
Why was the Darwish poem such a watershed for the country and those “Utopian Dreamers” who wanted the love of their neighbors so desperately that they engaged in intellectual fantasy?
Was it really so shocking to find that the most elite of our Arab neighbors were merely the most recent of a long line of Jew haters? Did they really believe that the phenomenon call the Holocaust ended in 1945? Indeed, the Arabs of Saudi Arabia, Syria, Iraq, Iran, Jordan and other Muslim countries really do hate the Jews. The Egyptians and Iranians would eliminate the State of Israel if they could. But where would that place the Catholic nation of France and Italy, or the Greek Orthodox country of Greece, on an index of outright hate? Where would you place the Soviet Union, Poland, Romania or merely the institution of the Catholic Church and its successions of Popes?
I have no doubt that those who are on the left of the political spectrum want peace. But, do you really believe those who are on the so-called right wish to send their sons to war? Is a Leftist and a Rightist really so different? Both want the benefits of a quiet day, to work, go on vacations, and not worry about losing a son, husband or father in the next war.
Regretfully, you must come to realize that the world, driven by Christian and Muslim teachings, views the Jews as an impediment to their claims for supremacy. The non-religious may not understand this, but the Jews stands in the middle of the road, somehow blocking the greatest desire of the Christian or Muslim believers – to be considered Number One as G-d’s chosen people.
1. “Aldubi was not firing when Tirza Porat fell” Jerusalem Post 4/11/88
2. “Summary of Incident at Village of Beita” April 27, 1988 Communicated by the IDF Spokesman