Yehuda Litani
Ynetnews (Opinion)
March 18, 2008 - 6:58pm,7340,L-3519775,00.html

Three days after the murder of the eight Mercaz Harav yeshiva students, I traveled to the only place in Jerusalem where Jews and Arabs meet every evening – the Abu-Leil family’s falafel stand in the French Hill neighborhood. On Saturday nights, the commotion here is usually at its peak: Groups of Jews and Arabs, each intermingling with its own, using its own language. 

This time around I didn’t find even one Jew there. “This is the way it is after attacks,” one of the Arab neighborhood residents told me. “The Jews don’t come here for a few days, but later they come back, because there is no reason not to come here because of one crazy guy.”

  That very same morning, one of the Arab merchants in the Old City told me that we were going back to the days of the intifada. “The only Jews I saw here today were ultra-Orthodox who were rushing to the prayer session at the Western Wall,” he said.


When the young Arab man who works at my neighborhood laundromat saw me Sunday morning he blamed the “Hamas wackos” – “Those people from the Abu-Dheim family are known to be radical. Ask this guy, he is their neighbor,” he said and pointed to another young Arab man who was busy ironing. They young man nodded. What else could he say to a Jewish customer? Three east Jerusalem residents are employed at the neighborhood laundromat, and they do not want to lose their jobs.

Yet the third employee remained silent. He is a 17-year-old boy who was recently apprehended after he hurled stones at Jewish vehicles. He was detained for 48 hours and then released, after the Jewish laundromat owner posted bail. Now, he was ironing and keeping silent. I think I could guess what he felt about the terror attack and why he did not join his friends in expressing his condemnation.

Anti-Arab sentiments

On the other hand, in a random line in a Jewish neighborhood of Jerusalem, I heard impassioned curses about the “Arab garbage” and the need to expel all of them to the Arabian Peninsula. Someone added: “The best Arab is a killed one.” Meanwhile, at the Jabel Mukaber neighborhood, masses visited the Abu-Dheim family to express their condolences, a moved also interpreted as sympathizing with the murderer.

I saw all that and recalled the public service ad on television where various figures appear under the slogan “Jerusalem should be boosted, no divided.” They bemoan the fact that many people leave the capital instead of strengthening it. Indeed, Jerusalem is quickly losing its sane, less zealots residents. Whole neighborhoods are dwindling and changing, while the politicians continue to fool the public with tired clichés.

    All I can do is recall with longing the Jerusalem that used to be mine, once upon a time – the friends in my neighborhood, my classmates, my comrades in the youth movement, my teachers, and my instructors. Most of them have not been here for a while now. They hear about the terrible murder at the Mercaz Harav yeshiva and they thank God that they no longer live in the city, which has turned into a center of dark zealotry.



American Task Force on Palestine - 1634 Eye St. NW, Suite 725, Washington DC 20006 - Telephone: 202-262-0017