Open Zion

04.09.13

Bulletin From The Front

The Front—that is, the front of my home in Abu Tur, Jerusalem, right off the main artery known as Derekh Hebron.

This past Saturday at around 4 o’clock, during my quiet Shabbat afternoon nap, a group of Arab youths went through the neighborhood smashing the windows of some 20 “Zionist” cars. An Arab neighbor later explained, totally deadpan, “They are protesting the cancer death of the Palestinian inmate in Israeli prison.”

Some Zionists fixed their car windows pretty quickly. Mistake. On Yom HaShoah night, during the Holocaust memorial service, those fixed cars were re-smashed—including the car parked in front of the house belonging to the next-door neighbor. That neighbor is a “Buchenwald child,” one of the members of that group who survived, came to Israel, and built a lovely, large family. I know, Dear Reader, that there is “absolutely no connection,” but somehow my neighbor wasn’t surprised by the broken glass.

Abu Tur was a divided community from 1947 to 1967, with a wall—the old Green Line, on which I live—running through it. The story is that kids would kick wayward soccer balls back to the side from which they were lost. Today, with that wall down, the community is still mostly separate, but there is a lot of vehicular and foot traffic as people go to work, school, shopping and the like. People attempt to get along; it is an upwardly mobile community and doing business (while minding your own business) is the main deal. All this, even with a doubling of the Arab population, and with the building of the outer security fence (in Jerusalem appearing once again as a wall); many did not, evidently, wish to be in the poorer “Jordan-adjacent” area.

Here, dialogue starts and sputters. I had a public colloquy with a local Sheikh, which stopped abruptly when he was threatened by his constituency. He got heat, and I got some street cred. “You manipulative Zionists!” he later joked with me.

The radio and press reported zip about the recent spate of window smashing in Abu Tur. My speculation is that the mainstream doesn’t want to deal with it while Kerry is in the region, and the left-wingers like it better when it happens to “deserving settlers.”

What to do? For now, there is a greater police presence in the area. As for me, I showed the Arab neighbor who indicated that “somebody should do something” Shaul Magid’s Open Zion column suggesting that, in search of peace, I ought to dance in a Hasidic spirit with my Arab neighbors. At first, my neighbor was perplexed. Then, handing me back my iPad, he said nonchalantly in a really good mock-English accent, “Sorry, chap, my dance card is full.”