From Gush Shalom
THIS IS the story: at 7 o'clock in the morning, an Arab approaches the gate of Har Adar, a settlement close to the Green Line near the Israeli-Arab village of Abu Ghosh.
The man is a "good Arab." A good Arab with a work permit in the settlement. He lives in the nearby West Bank Arab village of Beit Surik. He received a work permit there because he fits all the criteria -- he is 37 years old, married and father of four children. The inhabitants of Har Adar know him well, because he has been cleaning their homes for years.
This Tuesday morning he arrived at the gate as usual. But something aroused suspicion among the guards. He was wearing a jacket, though the weather was quite hot on this early autumn day. The guards asked him to remove his jacket.
Instead, the man took out a loaded pistol and shot three of the guards in the head at close range -- two civilian guards and a member of the semi-military Border Guards. One of the victims was himself an Arab. Another security officer, the local commander of the guards, was severely wounded. Since the assailant had never received military training, the precision of his shots was astounding. The pistol had been stolen 15 years ago.
All Israel was shocked. How could this happen? A good Arab like this? An Arab with permits? Why would he do such a thing in a place where he was well liked and well treated? Where he played with the children? And that after he was thoroughly vetted by the Security Service, which has innumerable Arab spies and is considered well-nigh infallible?
Something extraordinary must have happened. Someone must have incited him against the Jews and the nice people of Har Adar, who had treated him so well. Perhaps the UN speech by Mahmoud Abbas. Or perhaps some secret contacts with Hamas. "Incitement!" cried Binyamin Netanyahu.
But then another fact emerged, which explained everything. The man had quarreled with his wife. He had beaten her up, and she had escaped to her family in Jordan, leaving the four children behind.
So, obviously, he had become temporarily unhinged. In a state of mental derangement he had forgotten the kindness of the Har Adar people. Just a unique case, that need not trouble us further.
But it all shows that you can't trust the Arabs. They are a bunch of murderers. You cannot make peace with them until they change completely. So we must keep the occupied territories.
THAT IS the story. But there is another story, too. The story as seen by the man himself.
From his home in neighboring Beit Surik, the man -- whose name was, by the way, Nimr ("leopard") Mahmoud Ahmed al-Jamal -- could see Har Adar from his home every day when he woke up. For him, as for every Arab, it was a flourishing Jewish settlement, built on expropriated Arab land. Like his own village, it belonged to the Palestinian West Bank which is occupied territory.
He had to get up in the darkness of the night in order to get to Har Adar on time -- 7.00 o'clock in the morning -- and work hard until late in the night, arriving home at about 10 o'clock. This is the lot of tens of thousands of Arab laborers. They may look friendly, especially when their livelihood depends on it. They may even be really friendly to benevolent masters. But deep in their hearts they cannot forget for a moment that they are cleaning the toilets of the Jews who came to Arab Palestine and occupied their homeland.
Since most of the agricultural land of their villages has been expropriated for Jewish settlements, they have no choice but to work in these low-status jobs. There is no industry to speak of in the West Bank. Wages are minimal, often below the legal minimum wage in Israel proper (some $1500 dollars per month). Since they have no choice, they are not far from being slaves. Like the nice slaves in "Gone with the Wind."
Such a man may be at peace with this reality, but if something bad happens, he may suddenly become upset with his status and decide to become a martyr. Nimr left behind a letter in which he defended his wife and absolved her from any responsibility for the deed he had planned for the next day.
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