Photo: Gil Yohanan
Naftali Bennett. Described reality as it is
Photo: Gil Yohanan
Yoaz Hendel

Bennett is right about Arab crime rates

Op-ed: Bayit Yehudi chairman's comments about deteriorating internal security in Israel were neither inciting nor racist; they are a reflection of reality, which he is responsible for too.

Exactly a week ago, I visited the Makhtesh Hakatan (Small Crater) in the Negev desert. The area was deserted. There were no people, no potential thieves. There were hardly three bored vultures flying in the sky. Out of sight, out of mind, out of theft too.



When Bayit Yehudi Chairman Naftali Bennett visited the area last Passover, he wrote to me, someone smashed his car window. It happens in the best of families, in the best of countries. If I had to guess, I would say it was a Jewish vandal, not necessarily an Arab one, so far from the Bedouin community, and yet his feeling is right.


Something bad has begun in the past decade. Bennett's "thieves speech" in front of high school students this week was filled with slogans, as is the custom during elections, slightly generalized – but was completely right. Apart for the issue of thieves' proximity to the Makhtesh Hakatan, Bennett described reality as it is.


Israel is losing hold of different parts of the country. Small agricultural thefts have turned into a takeover of lands in the Negev and the Galilee. Nationalistically-motivated fires break out in the summer. Riots break out in the winter every time the police arrive to carry out arrests or demolish illegal construction.


If tomorrow morning a Tel Aviv resident decides to close up a balcony illegally, he will receive a demolition order within several days. The municipality and the police will enforce the law. In the Negev and the Galilee, on the other hand, some 5,000 illegal buildings are constructed every day, and there is no one there to handle it. Political correctness requires us not to mention the criminals' religion, race and gender, but the police statistics don't take political correctness into consideration.


Arab high school students walk out of Bennett's speech following 'thieves' comment (Photo: Motti Kimchi) (Photo: Motti Kimchi)
Arab high school students walk out of Bennett's speech following 'thieves' comment (Photo: Motti Kimchi)


The numbers show that the crime rate in violence offenses among Israel's Arabs is double and sometimes triple their part in the general population. Seventy-nine percent of shooting incidents in Israel take place in the Arab sector. Protection rackets, agricultural thefts, car thefts, honor killings and more and more data, showing that Israel is facing a problem.


Bennett was also right in the comments he made about East Jerusalem. I have been pelted with stones twice on the Mount of Olives, a historical tourist site in the heart of the capital. It's an area which should be completely safe in a normal country, easily accessible for tourists and definitely for local Israelis like myself.


He is so right, that we have to ask what do the high school students have to do with this issue, or to be more accurate – what have Israel's governments, including current one which Bennett is a member of, done about it?


In order to deal with the problem, we need slightly more serious solutions than appointing Ayelet Shaked as the internal security minister. The responsibility for the lack of governability does not lie on the Arab citizens' shoulders. It lies on the shoulders of the state, which is acting with no sovereignty.


Despite the nationalistic voices that are being heard, despite the damage caused by Knesset members like Hanin Zoabi, most Israeli Arabs want a peaceful life. They are aware of the great advantages of living in the Israeli democracy. The government is the absent one.


Israel's Arab citizens deserve an equal system of duties and rights. They are entitled to strenuous police activity at all hours of the day, so that shots will not be fired on the streets of their communities. After years of Israeli patronage and engaging in affirmative action, they are entitled to affirmative enforcement.


The same applies to Jerusalem. Despite all the government's talk about construction and governability in the city, it's quite the opposite. As time goes by, it becomes more difficult to build, even in neighborhoods which are under consensus like Gilo. We are courageous against the world, but we avoid building.


In the eastern part of the city there is almost a different state, the Palestinian Authority, which provides different services. The electric company is different, the education is different, the sanitation services are different. There are neighborhoods no one has entered for years. Instead of strengthening the governability, they prefer to talk about the danger of "the leftists who will divide Jerusalem."


The main reason for this chaos is too much populism. The gap between the statements and what actually happens on the ground, and not just during elections. Bennett's comments were neither inciting nor racist. They are a reflection of reality, which we must admit that he is responsible for too.


The Likud and Bayit Yehudi parties have decided to only attack the left-wing camp. I am not a fan of this genre, but it's acceptable during elections. After the other side is attacked and dismissed, the following question remains: What is this side doing? Ayelet Shaked is talented enough for any government role. She is a good answer, but not a work plan.


פרסום ראשון: 02.10.15, 22:43
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