By Hillel Fendel and Chaim Silberstein
Israel’s housing minister, Uri Ariel, visited a northern seam-line neighborhood in the capital and was disappointed to learn, presumably not for the first time, that Israeli sovereignty there is more on paper than on the ground.
Ariel, who was chosen this week once again to head the Tekumah Party list in the Knesset, has been involved in developing Israel as a land for the Jewish People all of his adult life. He started as a pioneer resident, helping found Mishor Adumim and Kfar Adumim; continued in the positions of CEO of the Amana settlement movement and Secretary-General of the Yesha Council; went on to head the settlement division in the Defense Ministry and serve on the Jewish National Fund board of directors; became mayor of Bet El; and now serves as minister of housing.
Despite all the above, Jerusalem apparently still has some surprises for him.
Two weeks ago, he toured the Shuafat neighborhood overlooking Pisgat Ze’ev with Jerusalem City Council members Dov Kalmanovitz and Yael Entebbe. They showed him things that perhaps he’d never before seen from up close. These included illegal Arab construction on a very large scale, reports of arms caches under the eyes of city inspectors and police in Shuafat, and gunshots aimed at Jewish neighborhoods.
In addition to the dangers, Entebbe also mentioned the loud muezzin cries and nearby Arab school loudspeakers that make life difficult for the residents of Pisgat Ze’ev. “There is no enforcement of construction and zoning laws,” she said, “and this continues in other areas such as security, weapons caches, and lots of shabachim (Arabs of Judea and Samaria who entered Israel illegally) walking around. The Wild West is right here in the municipal area of Jerusalem.”
Minister Ariel’s conclusion? “It turns out that there are parts of Jerusalem over which the State of Israel simply does not apply its sovereignty in its own capital city!” He admitted that this could not be solved in a day: “What is required here is a special effort, and I will work, together with others, to make sure we actualize our sovereignty here.”
Entebbe said that the police have acknowledged that entering Shuafat in response to reports of arms caches is at the bottom of their list of priorities—though they arrested a resident who was seen directing a firecracker at Jewish apartment buildings. Some Jewish citizens have even reported sitting on their porches and experiencing a bullet fly by.
Even as Israel might be slowly losing its grip on parts of its capital, the Arabs are working to fill the vacuum. The chairman of the Jerusalem [Arab] Teachers’ Association, Issa Salman, says that the educational message taught in Arab schools in the capital is very straightforward: “Jerusalem is Arab, and Palestine—from north to south, from the [Jordan] River to the [Mediterranean] Sea—is Islamic Palestinian Arab, and will remain so” in spite of the “occupier.”
Salman made this point on PA television several weeks ago, and the recording was recently publicized by Palestinian Media Watch in its ongoing campaign to expose PA anti-Israel incitement. Amazingly, these events seem to be unhampered by the fact that Arab public schools in Jerusalem are under the direct supervision of the Israeli government, via the Ministry of Education’s Education Administration of Jerusalem.
In general, PMW reports, PA leaders have more frequently been using the term “ribat”—a somewhat more pinpointed version of jihad—when referring to the conflict with Israel and, particularly, with regard to Jerusalem. According to David Wood, a Christian expert on Islam, the Muslims’ religious war has three stages:
• Preaching tolerance when they are outnumbered;
• Calling for defensive jihad when the Muslim community can defend itself; and
• Waging offensive jihad when they are a majority and have some power.
Accordingly, use of the new term “ribat” might indicate that we are deep into the second stage, and quite possibly beyond it. It is in this light that we must view the increasing calls for the “liberation” of all of Israel by even seemingly moderate PA elements such as former negotiator Jibril Rajoub and Palestinian Authority television.
A final point: Officially permitted for publication early this week, after it had been widely viewed on the Internet, was a video clip of the terrorist stabbing of two Israeli police officers in the Old City two weeks ago. The policemen, one of whom was lightly wounded, are seen to react quickly; they struggle with their attacker for a few seconds, until he finally manages to escape. He was caught several days ago hiding out in Ramallah.
Noteworthy in the clip is the fact that though the many Arab passersby do not get involved in the struggle between the policemen and the terrorist, neither do they at all try to stop him as he runs away. There seems to be a sense among the wider Arab public that, although most of them would not actually commit an act of terrorism, they view those who do attempt one as a hero worthy of admiration.
It remains for us merely to connect the dots between the Arabs of the Old City, the education provided by the Palestinian Authority and Jerusalem Arabs, and an increase in terrorist attacks like the murderous events in Paris.
For more information on the efforts to ensure that Yerushalayim remains united under Jewish sovereignty, and to sign up for our informative bus tours of strategic parts of the Holy City, visit keepjerusalem.org.