The decrease in the intensity of the intifada which the prime minister recently spoke about, is not quantitatively significant. The terrorists failed both in the street and in its overarching purpose to tear at the fabric of the day-to-day lives of both Jews and Arabs—in factories, markets, restaurants, universities, businesses, malls, elevators, and hospitals.
During even the bloodiest days of violence, we saw Jews and Arabs continuing to live their lives, working amongst and with each other. The inciters didn't dare publicly call for a halt to this relationship. They know that there's no chance of that happening.
If Israel can pass this test of coexistence despite the poisonous atmosphere, will the Jewish State become stronger or weaker? Take into consideration the call for separation in hospitals; does this not play into the hands of Israel's enemies, whose goal is to tear Jerusalem and other Arab areas away from Israel? Just as separation between Jews and Arabs isn't a religious obligation, it also isn't a national ambition. Therefore, the polemic on the separation of maternity wards has nothing to do with the controversy between the Right and the Left.
I've never been in a maternity ward, but I do know the insides of hospital rooms, and there were almost always Arabs in the rooms with their families as well. The amount of noise they make is the same as a Jewish family. And as for the medical staff—Jewish and Arab doctors, nurses and management: This is what the peace that everyone talks about looks like.
This is how it was for 44 years in Kiryat Arba, and I saw many years of good neighborliness. The breakup came in two waves, and started at the end of 1987 with the First Intifada. Right when we started to recover, the Oslo disaster happened. It was at this point that the Arabs started to send their warning.
Take my son, for example. One day, while on his way to Hebron, he was driving close to Beit Omer. A car coming from the opposite direction (with Palestinian license plates) started flashing its headlights to get my son to stop. Why? People were throwing rocks at cars on the road. Who? Other Arabs.
In the summer of 1987, before the riots started, Arab village elders from the Dheisheh refugee camp went to the mayor of Bethlehem and warned that the young people in the camp were planning a violent uprising, but it was in vain. This violent uprising would later be termed "the Intifada."
Even after the outbreak of the First Intifada, Arab officials gave practical advice to Israeli decision makers on how to end the riots, yet no one wanted to listen. That is, until Oslo came and put Fatah in power. But all of a sudden, these voices were silenced.
In the days before Netanyahu handed 90 percent of Hebron to Arafat, I met in Jerusalem a group of Arabs in their 30s who requested that I set up a meeting between them and the Israeli military governor. I asked why. They told me that they wanted to lobby him to not leave Hebron and not to give the city to Arafat. They were worried that Arafat would exploit Hebron like he exploited Gaza and Nablus.
"We started the First Intifada," the leader of the group said, and then, with regret, flashed a badge that showed he was an officer in Arafat's "Force 17."
To my astonishment, the governor refused to receive them. He explained to me that every day, from morning until night, delegations of Arabs were coming to him all with the same request: Don't let Arafat in. He told me that he was bringing these facts to high-ranking officials in the IDF and government, but to no avail.
Even today during arguments with Arabs, when I accuse them of incitement and terror, they step back and ask me: And who exactly brought in Arafat and his terrorists? Us or you? And who put them in charge over us?
We have Arab enemies, but not all Arabs are enemies. The "small difference" is a moral imperative and national one.