On July 23, a second Palestinian bulldozer driver working on a Jerusalem construction project tried to murder Israeli civilians before being shot dead. Three people were killed in the first attack. My first thought is of a high-ranking U.S. diplomat telling me back in 1999 that Israel had no reason not to let in Palestinian workers because they were never involved in terrorism. I angrily responded that three years earlier one such laborer brought in a suicide bomber who killed more than a dozen people three blocks from my house.
This is why, generally, foreign workers have replaced Palestinians. Back in 1995 you could see in my neighborhood trucks with Palestinian license plates making deliveries and workers from the Gaza Strip doing construction. That stopped due to terrorism, even though Israeli employers and political leaders preferred to employ Palestinians, respectively due to lower costs and great convenience for the former and as a way to promote peace for the latter.
Up to now, east Jerusalem residents have been given special privileges. And so an American friend writes: ‘What would it take for the Arab communities to mobilize to try to prevent provocations of this sort? Seriously, is there anyone in Arab Jerusalem who thinks they have the least degree of responsibility for their own fate?’
The answer to the first question is: It won’t happen. Killing Israelis is officially a good thing. It is advocated in textbooks, mosque sermons, official Palestinian Authority media, and politicians of both government and opposition politicians. There is literally nothing that says the opposite. Literally zero. Incidentally, during the 1993-2000 ‘peace process’ era it was not all that much better.
The answer to the second question is also: ‘No.’ The victim mentality prevails. Inasmuch as they are urged to do something it is to engage in armed struggle to win total victory. In reading literally thousands of PA speeches and articles I only recall one-by a security commander in 1996-decrying terrorism for damaging the Palestinian economy.
And if you hear none of this in the Western media that is why so many people still believe in the fantasy of a compromise peace or of Israeli responsibility for the conflict.
By the way, understandably east Jerusalem Palestinians may lose their jobs and be replaced by foreign workers. Watch for Western media articles about the bad condition of the Palestinian economy and how Israel is responsible for the high unemployment rate.
Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs Journal. His latest books are The Israel-Arab Reader (seventh edition), with Walter Laqueur (Viking-Penguin); the paperback edition of The Truth About Syria (Palgrave-Macmillan); A Chronological History of Terrorism, with Judy Colp Rubin, (Sharpe); and The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East (Wiley).