Photo: Raanan Ben-Zur
Suspected Tel Aviv shooter, Nashat Melhem. His family members were never among the radicals
Photo: Raanan Ben-Zur
Ben-Dror Yemini

Shooter does not represent Israel's Arabs

Op-ed: While there may be incitement in the Arab sector, only few of its members have turned to hostile activity. The unequivocal condemnation issued by the Tel Aviv terrorist's family and neighbors and all Arab Knesset members is real.

The conversation began with a heart-rending cry. It was not so long after it turned out that a family member had committed the murder. It's not us, he told me, it's not what we have been trying to build all our lives. You know that.



He didn't have to go to the trouble of saying that. I have known the extended family since the 1980s. So the following words are a personal testimony.


I have been there, in Ar'ara and in Wadi Ara, dozens of times. We are talking about a large, well-known family. Attorney Sami Melhem, who represented the suspected murderer in the past, is a close friend. We have been engaging in a dialogue for years. A lot can be said about him and the family members. They were never among the radicals.


There were moments of crisis too. In 2006, the police tried to arrest one of the extended family members on suspicion of criminal activity. The attempted arrest ended in the detainee's killing. The police officers were accused of being trigger-happy. Dr. Asad Ghanem of Haifa University argued in an article published in Yedioth Ahronoth that the incident was "a targeted assassination in Wadi Ara." Something broke among the family members too. Riots erupted. Those were not easy days. Such incidents can destroy relations build over years.


The suspected murderer's father. In its condemnation of the act, the family represents the majority of Israel's Arabs (Photo: Hassan Shaalan)
The suspected murderer's father. In its condemnation of the act, the family represents the majority of Israel's Arabs (Photo: Hassan Shaalan)


A few more years passed and Nashat Melhem, who is suspected of carrying out the murder on Tel Aviv's Dizengoff Street on Friday, got into trouble when he tried to snatch a weapon from a soldier. He spent five years in jail. He was represented by Adv. Melhem. We occasionally pondered the possibility that the lawyer's clear, sane voice in favor of coexistence, against radicalism, required a further step. Going into politics. That may still happen.


Another family member, Jamal Melhem, was active in the Labor Party. For several years, he even served as an assistant to former Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer, who was like one of the family in the area.


The suspected murderer, according to the family's testimonies, did not undergo a radicalization process. He did not go to mosque. He may have been affected by his cousin's killing. He may have also become enchanted by the Islamic State. If that's the case, it happens to one in thousands. The unequivocal condemnation of the family, of the surroundings, of all Arab Knesset members, is real.


That is not always the case. Here are there, there is a tone of understanding and even justification of the "resistance." After all, Azmi Bishara, Hanin Zoabi and Raed Salah belong to the inciters' department. But this time, at least this time, the condemnation is real.


Israel's Arabs are dealing with a conflict between loyalty to the Palestinian people and loyalty to the State of Israel. It's not just the conflict which has been going on got 100 years now. There are problematic relations in Sweden and Germany too.


The fact that only few of Israel's Arabs have turned to hostile activity, as opposed to expressions of protest, is a badge of honor for both the Arabs and the Jews. There is incitement. There are inciters. But the Melhem family, where the murderer came from, represents the majority of Israel's Arabs when it condemns and disagrees with the act.


There is one more thing we should remember: The Jews don’t like to be linked to the "price tag" hooligans. Let's not do to our neighbors what we hate. Let's not link the despicable murder to all Israeli Arabs.


פרסום ראשון: 01.04.16, 23:47
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