As I heard the terrible news of the terror attack in Jerusalem carried out by an East Jerusalem construction worker, I thought what an irony it would be if the bulldozer used was made by Caterpillar. Yesterday’s NY Times coverage confirmed my thought:
Witnesses said they saw the vehicle, a large Caterpillar front-end loader, set off close to midday from a building site at one of the busiest intersections in the predominantly Jewish, western half of the city…
Caterpillar equipment has a special resonance among Palestinians. Human rights activists have lobbied the company to stop selling its heavy vehicles to the Israeli military out of concern that they have been used to demolish Palestinian homes, uproot orchards and construct Jewish settlements in occupied land.
Though perhaps the terrible irony of this incident will be lost on Israeli Jews, it will not be lost on Palestinians who are made to suffer the brunt of the terrible destructive power of the Caterpillar bulldozer, the “engine” of the Occupation. We should add to this, that a similar vehicle by the same company killed Rachel Corrie.
Seattle’s Initiative 97, which calls for divestment from companies like Caterpillar which profit from the Israeli Occupation, takes on a whole new meaning in light of this attack. The bulldozer not only harms Palestinians, but Israelis as well.
Israeli politicians are once again baying for collective blood-vengeance against East Jerusalem residents despite that fact that a single individual was responsible. They have conveniently forgotten that collective guilt violates not only international law, but Jewish law as well.
Attorney General Menachem Mazuz informed Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Defense Minister Ehud Barak on Thursday that rulings made by the High Court of Justice over the years clarify there is no constitutional barrier to demolishing the home of a terrorist, although there are legal obstacles in both the local and international arenas that must be considered.
Mazuz arrived at this ruling after in-depth discussions…over the question of whether Israel is permitted under the law to demolish the home of the East Jerusalem man who plowed a bulldozer into a string of vehicles in downtown Jerusalem on Wednesday and killed three people.
Olmert’s political hatchet man, Haim Ramon, concedes the demolition will have absolutely no impact on future terrorism and thereby concedes the utter bankruptcy of the government policy. But not only does he propose demolishing the home, he also demands (and this is a new and insidious proposal) that ALL residents of neighborhoods where terrorists live should be collectively punished by being cut off from Jerusalem:
Vice Premier Haim Ramon (Kadima) told Army Radio on Thursday morning that Israel should treat the East Jerusalem neighborhoods of Jabel Mukaber and Zur Baher as Palestinian villages, and revoke the permanent residency status of their residents.
Wednesday’s attacker came from Zur Baher, and Jabel Mukaber was the home of the Mercaz Harav terrorist. In the aftermath of both attacks, Ramon called for the two neighborhoods to be entirely cut off from Jerusalem.
“One of the main reasons that the attack was carried out yesterday with such ease was because there are Palestinian villages that for some reason are called Jerusalem – Jabel Mukaber and Zur Baher. They need to be treated as we treat Ramallah, Bethlehem, Jenin and Nablus,” Ramon told Army Radio.
Such a policy would give Israel the best of all possible worlds. It can annex East Jerusalem as it did taking control of Palestinian territory, while surgically removing specific residents and neighborhoods from the benefits of being annexed to Israel. Israel still controls their land, but no longer has any responsibilities toward the residents. A strange and, as I said, an insidious policy.
The cluelessness of Israeli policy is most evident in this statement:
Ramon also told Army Radio that he felt, as opposed to the prime minister and his fellow ministers, that demolishing the home of the terrorist’s family would not prevent the next terror attack. However, he said that the house should be demolished anyway, if the law allows it.
“I doubt that demolishing the house will achieve what it aims to achieve, though if possible, the house must be razed. The laws must be made to fit the policy and we mustn’t give up,” Ramon said. “What we are permitted to do, we must do as soon as possible.”
Interesting that Ramon seems so concerned about maintaining the semblance of legality to the housing demolition scheme, while being someone convicted of sexual assault. How can someone who broke the law and paid for it convince anyone that he’s concerned about what the law says in this case. The only thing more icily and darkly ironic would’ve been if Olmert had named Ramon justice minister after his sentence was completed.
My impression of political policy was that it should be efficacious. It should achieve some result. Here there is no result. There is only an appearance that the government is doing SOMETHING to respond to terror when in reality it is doing nothing. This reflects a political system that is bankrupt & political leaders who are rudderless. Days like yesterday and statements like these make me feel utterly hopeless that there can ever be any good that comes out of this Godforsaken conflict.
Apparently, Israel is such a country where the families of Arab terrorists are not allowed to mourn their dead, as Haaretz shows video images of Israeli police tearing down in disgust the mourning tent erected by the family of the bulldozer driver. Has it come to this that we can’t allow our enemy to engage in the fundamental human act of mourning the dead? We aren’t talking about making a hero out of the man, but merely allowing his family to mark his passing.
For those of you who want to read a few twisted screeds from the Jewish-Israeli press on this incident (and I don’t recommend this for the faint of heart) read Bradley Burston’s Kahanesque rant in a Haaretz that should’ve been embarrassed to publish it and Jonathan Mark’s equally vile ranting in Jewish Week. After you’ve done this you must read Bernard Avishai’s moving commentary that puts both of the above pieces of excrement to shame with its profound humanity.