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Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Just my two cents

You know it has to be a pretty clear cut case of dumb when something gets me to agree with one of our fifth columnists Arab Members of Knesset.

I mean seriously... this has gotten completely out of hand. 

An Arab driver - by accident or design - drives through a Jewish neighborhood in Acre (next to Haifa) on Yom Kippur and the Jewish residents react as though he has killed someone.  Then the Arab community of Acre circulates a rumor that the Jews have killed the Arab driver and start riots of their own.

Wackiness ensues. 

For years these two dirt-poor communities have lived side-by-side in what passes for peaceful co-existence in this part of the world.  Yet tensions have obviously been close to the surface seeing as it took such a small provocation to light the fuse on almost a week of rioting.

It should be pointed out that the leaders of the Arab community were quick to make a public declaration denouncing the Arab driver for having driven through the Jewish area on Yom Kippur... a gesture that should have been the beginning of the healing. 

Yet once again the Israeli police have decided to ignore their promise of a new era of 'community policing' and have instead opted for the most heavy handed 'solution' by arresting the Arab driver for allegedly speeding during his Yom Kippur drive. Idiots!

I rarely see eye-to-eye with Arab MK Ahmed Tibi, but he makes a good point when,in response to the Arab driver being arrested, he asks "Will police arrest Jews for eating on Ramadan?" 

MK Tibi is right.  I can walk through an Arab area in Jerusalem eating a falafel at mid-day during Ramadan and nobody is going to arrest me.  Heck, I could do so while driving my car at twice the posted speed limit through any Arab neighborhood and the most I'm likely to get is a hefty speeding ticket and possibly a suspension of my license. 

So why is this Arab driver sitting in Jail right now? 

My guess is that our police (and their political bosses) are simply used to ignoring the laws they are sworn to uphold, and instead decided to make up the rules to suit the political climate of the day.

I love that in this country kids can ride their bicycles the length of Tel Aviv on the Ayalon highway at mid-day on Yom Kippur.  Obviously those kids have a different sense of the day than I do (to say the least).   But for them, the day of Yom Kippur is completely unique... something most Diaspora Jews can't even imagine. 

There may very well be a law on the books that prohibits drivers from using the roads on Yom Kippur, but it isn't the law that keeps the cars off the street.  It is a consensus... an agreement by everyone that certain norms will be observed on this day.  And like most laws in a democracy, if at any point even a small minority of the population decide to ignore them, the laws becomes unenforceable.  Just a few cars on the Ayalon would make bicycle riding impossible.

The problem is not a legal one, but rather a social one.  Someone violated the social charter that had been in place for many years, so the first attempt at a solution should have been an effort to repair and reinforce the social charter... not impose an inappropriate and punitive legal penalty.   

The first steps that should have been taken (after order was restored, of course) were to get community leaders together with local government to review the consensus and emphasize the important role that the status quo plays in protecting everyone's rights and sensibilities. 

Rioters who destroyed property and/or harmed people should obviously have been arrested.  But this driver should not be sitting in jail.  Even if it turns out he sped through the Jewish residential area on purpose rather than by accident, the most he should have gotten was a hefty fine and maybe some points on his license.   

In a country where cultural insensitivity is nearly a national pastime, it seems pointless and counter-productive to make it a jail offense.

Just my two cents.

 

Posted by David Bogner on October 15, 2008 | Permalink

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I agree.

I am very upset and disturbed about the arrest of Tawfiq Jamal.

Posted by: Imshin | Oct 15, 2008 1:47:23 PM

You don't have enough information to post a blog entry about this incident.

Posted by: dave | Oct 15, 2008 3:50:58 PM

I love that in this country kids can ride their bicycles the length of Tel Aviv on the Ayalon highway at mid-day on Yom Kippur.

I hate to detract from your main point, but that is so neat. [Even to a non-Diaspora Jew. ;o) ]

Posted by: Tanya | Oct 15, 2008 4:33:08 PM

Well said.
And dumb became even dumber when the Akko (theater) Festival was canceled.
The JP article you linked said that the driver "is suspected of driving dangerously and insulting religion." Personally, I prefer to live in a country where the latter is not considered a crime.

Posted by: Mich | Oct 15, 2008 5:12:12 PM

You don't have enough information to post a blog entry about this incident.

One can usually say that about most things.

That said, Dave's comment holds true for Trep's statement: "My guess is that our police (and their political bosses) are simply used to ignoring the laws they are sworn to uphold, and instead decided to make up the rules to suit the political climate of the day."

Seeing as we really don't know enough about the decision to make the arrest, and who made it and why, the above statement could very well be out of place.

Still I feel uneasy and uncomfortable about the arrest.

He's been released to home arrest for a week, by the way. And his driving license has been taken away for a month.

I'd like to see some arrests of individuals who made up the violent mob on both sides, the ones who did the real damage.

Posted by: Imshin | Oct 15, 2008 5:48:07 PM

Boy, have you got it wrong.

So why is this Arab driver sitting in Jail right now?

Because he was driving erratically, speeding and apparently drunk. I've read eyewitness accounts that he was stoned because he almost ran over someone. He was not stoned simply because he was driving on Yom Kippur and he certainly wasn't arrested in order to be a scapegoat for the riots.

Posted by: ashoichet | Oct 15, 2008 8:25:18 PM

Dave... If you do have enough information, please enlighten us. If not, your comment was simply unhelpful and rude. Either way, you don't know me well enough to leave such an abrupt and tactless comment. This is my site and what I post here certainly is not journalism, and it isn't particularly well researched. Like most people in this world, I am a consumer of information that is available from a variety of sources... some reliable and some less so. What we all do with that information is process it and form opinions. This site is where some of my opinions end up. If you had information that might have changed my opinion or shown the subject in a different light... you had an opportunity to share it. But don't you dare tell me what I can and can't feel about any subject.

Posted by: treppenwitz | Oct 15, 2008 10:23:10 PM

Thanks for writing this post.

Posted by: Ilana-Davita | Oct 15, 2008 10:48:18 PM

My understanding is that the Jewish residents were afraid that the driver was using his car for a terror attack.

Last year a nine year old girl Tal Zino has been killed in comparable circumstances.

My impression is also that the incitement was prepared beforehand. From what I heard after Yom Kippur a bus full of young Arabs with all sorts of destructive tools made its way very quickly into the neighborhood. How fast can such a bus transport be organized?

If the police has any evidence pointing to a premediated provocation with the driver a conscious partner the arrest could be justified.

Posted by: Ruth | Oct 15, 2008 11:33:39 PM

I agree with your feelings about the police, but for different reasons - the driver should have been in jail long before this. And it's not an issue of "driving on Yom Kippur" please. Don't insult our collective intelligence. Even a lowly diapora Jew like me can read that in the past few months, vehicles driven by Arabs have been used to kill and maim Jews - why should anyone think differently of this driver - especially since he nearly ran over a young girl. He's a taxi driver who claimed to get lost? Taxi drivers only use that excuse when they have a fare!! Yeah, you probably won't be arrested for eating during Ramadam - but what do you think the Arabs would do to you in their neighborhood when they caught you, eh?

Posted by: nr | Oct 16, 2008 5:55:09 PM

suspected of driving dangerously and insulting religion.

When I still had a car I drove... "creatively". Yes, that's it, 'creatively'.
[See this post: In a hurry to nowhere.]

I no longer drive. I make up for it by insulting religion on a daily basis. I am not suspected of insulting religion, I am not accused of insulting religion..... I simply insult religion. More so than when I had a car (being no longer quite so likely to involve the guardian of the universe in my mishaps, you understand).

A religion that is all grown up can take care of itself.
And pedestrians can jump out of the way.

Posted by: The Back of the Hill | Oct 16, 2008 11:26:45 PM

MK Tibi is right. I can walk through an Arab area in Jerusalem eating a falafel at mid-day during Ramadan and nobody is going to arrest me.

Ummm, not arrest you, but two yeshiva kids walking in the Old City (Jerusalem) got the **** beaten out of them during Ramadan this year by a gang of Arabs as the Ramadan fast was ending for the evening.

Posted by: JoeSettler | Oct 17, 2008 2:08:35 AM

I actually agree with you.

I don't believe it.

Good thing I am sitting down. :)

Posted by: Gila | Oct 18, 2008 8:40:47 AM

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