Racism and Security
Ashkelon mayor Itamar Shimoni has sparked controversy by announcing new security measures for his municipality.
This is against the background of the barbaric massacre of congregants in the Bnei Torah synogogue in Har Nof, Jerusalem on Tuesday morning by two Israeli Arabs, who worked at a corner store nearby, and a series of terror attacks on Jews perpetrated by lone-wolf Arab terrorists.
In response to the situation, Shomoni has issued instructions that:
1. Armed guards, paid for by the city, are being placed at kindergartens, which are located near building sites. No controversy there.
2. Arabs who are currently employed to build bomb shelters for kindergartens in Ashkelon, which suffered hundreds of rocket and missile attacks in recent months and years, are being stopped from working and sent home.
This second one is kicking up a storm.
Predictably, left wingers and Arabs have immediately condemned the move as racist.
Less predictably, some right wing politicians, including Prime Minister Netanyahu and Economy Minister Naftali Bennet, have also slammed Shimoni's move.
The conundrum here is as a result of new factors in the latest wave of terrorism in Israel:
1. The terrorism is being largely carried out by Arabs who hold blue ID cards - in other words, who are Israeli citizens, with legal equality with every other Israeli citizen.
In the past, Israeli Arabs have mainly sat-out the two intifadas, with the overwhelming majority of murderous attacks being perpetrated by West Bank and Gaza Arabs (Palestinians, who are not Israeli citizens).
The new role of Israeli Arabs in terror attacks creates a tension between their status as equal citizens under the law, and the practicality of severe security risks.
2. These current attacks have been by loan-wolves, in other words individuals who are not operating within a framework of an organized terror group.
This lone-wolf phenomenon has meant that traditional anti-terror tactics, with a high level of reliance on intelligence information of planned attacks, have been rendered all but useless.
Into this new situation and security-vacuum, Itamar Shimoni has put into action a small step (solely effecting a handful of Arab workers who are specifically employed within kindergartens in Ashkelon) which the much of the rest of the country has been exclaiming on social media and at demonstrations "No To Arab Labour!!"
Whereas the popular slogans are just that - a natural angry response to the shock and horror of seeing murdered Jewish victims to this new round of terror - putting new policies into place is going to be far more challenging.
The irony is that two of the victims of terror in the latest events have been Israeli Arabs/Druse, who died in the line of duty for the Jewish State, heroically defending Jewish citizens.
How should one balance the need to protect innocent Israeli civilians from the new and barbaric Islamic terrorism by Israeli Arabs - while protecting the rights of over one-and-a-half million (presumably) law-abiding Israeli Arab civilians?