Mohammad Darawshe
The Jerusalem Post
October 5, 2011 - 12:00am

For the Arab public in Israel, the October 2000 clashes remain an unresolved case. Thirteen families who lost their loved ones, joined by the entire Arab community, still ask out loud how it is possible that lethal fire was opened on demonstrators yet justice never prevailed. After all, tense, and occasionally violent, demonstrations were not invented by the Arab public: protesters have repeatedly blocked roads in Jerusalem, and settlers in Amona threw rocks at police officers, yet no one ever conceived of ordering sniper fire in response to those actions.

The arsonists of the Tuba Zanghariya mosque sought to rekindle the violence that we experienced in October 2000. The Arab public dreads incidents like this, which could ignite a new round of violence and trigger the use of excessive force against the Arab public, after which retrospective justifications for the violence would be crafted, just as they were 11 years ago. The provocative and threatening headlines in the press in anticipation of the Palestinian declaration of independence at the UN, and reports of preparations for riots, simply faded away: the vast majority of the Arab public preferred the course of nonviolent protest, if at all.

On another equally significant level, government ministries are trying to prevent dialogue and discourse on the grave events that occurred in October 2000. At the beginning of this week, Channel Two reported that the Ministry of Education prohibited school principals from discussing the October 2000 clashes with their pupils. Several months earlier, ministry supervisors were sent to schools to compile lists of teachers who failed to show up for work on Land Day. So, instead of civics studies in Israel touching on genuine issues of concern that affect Jewish-Arab relations and facilitating open-minded discussion, there is a tendency to impose silence and sanctions against whoever initiates a discussion and discourse about the pain of the Arab public or, more generally, about the relationship between the state and its Arab minority.


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