22 July 2008

Israel: Vehicular Terror Attack Update, Backstory and Analysis


Copyright © 2008, R. Kossover
First published at Blogcritics Magazine

Ma'ale Levona, 3 July, 2008


As reported on 2 July, an Arab "went postal" along the Jaffa Road, killing three and injuring at least 40 people. When I was riding towards Jerusalem's Central Bus Station Wednesday, planning to go to the phone company to clear up a bill, I heard the 12:00 news on the semi-official Voice of Israel hourly news roundup. While waiting for that bus, I had seen quite a number of police motorcycles, vehicles and a number of ambulances rushing ahead in the same direction I was going.

We Israelis have some rules of thumb when it comes to seeing ambulances or police vehicles: one ambulance means an accident or a heart attack; two ambulances mean a very serious vehicular accident; three or more are the sign of a terror attack. I was convinced there had been a terror attack based on the number of ambulances and the huge number of police vehicles zipping by.

But there are also certain terms you listen for in Hebrew on the news broadcasts to indicate this: pitzútz - explosion, irúa yéri - a shooting incident, nifgá - injured, m'Habél - terrorist, pigúa - terror attack. These were among the first terms I learned in Hebrew when we moved here seven years ago. Of all these terms listed, I heard only one - nifgá - injured.

The noon broadcast spoke of otobús hit'hapékh - an overturned bus, traktor (must I translate?), and reHóv yáfo - the Jaffa Road. The more we made our way slowly up the Jaffa Road, past landmarks like Davidka Square, maHané yehudá Shuk (souk in Arabic), the famous "open air" market where you can supposedly get bargains, the more I sensed that a trip to Bezeq to deal with a phone bill would be put off - and that I would be writing an article instead. My sense of this was confirmed when the police shut off the Jaffa Road altogether just past the Shuk and directed all traffic towards Agrippas Street, which runs parallel to the Jaffa Road for a ways. After about 100 meters or so on Agrippas, the police directed all traffic away from Agrippas Street as well, and since my ultimate destination was the Central Bus Station, which is on the Jaffa Road, I got off.

But I still couldn't see what a tractor had to do with an overturned bus.

I followed a couple of Haredím (the very observant Jews who wear long black coats and have peyót, dreadlocks) upwards towards the Jaffa Road. As I got there, a Border Guard was hollering "back!, back!" a command I sidestepped - literally. I looked at the crushed vehicles, at least twenty ambulances, another twenty police vehicles, and the Zak"a vehicle, which made me shiver. I asked questions and stood with notebook in one hand, pen in the other, and wrote most of my previous article. When I was done, I made my way to the Central Bus Station, hurrying to the internet café there to type the story up. After finishing it, and having my son send an e-mail notifying the editors of breaking news, I was just in time to catch the 14:00 bus to Ariel, which stops at Ma'ale Levona.

Riding the bus home, I caught the Hebrew news at 15:00 approximately three hours after the events occurred. In this broadcast, the term pigúa was used. Nevertheless, some important details still elude me, so lets look at the coverage since early Wednesday afternoon to see what can be had.


The first point is one which requires no URL's to document. The term traktor used was a misnomer. The construction vehicle driven by the Arab was a bulldozer - but Hebrew uses traktor to mean bulldozer as well. Another nuance in how Hebrew stretches words learned....

The second point is the names of the murdered: According to Yeshiva World News, the dead are Batsheva Unterman, HY"D (an abbreviation for השם ינקם דמם hashém y'nakém damám - may G-d avenge their blood), 33 of Bayit V'gan, a neighborhood in western edges of Jerusalem; Elizabeth Goren-Friedman, HY”D, a teacher of the blind crushed by the bulldozer. She was 54 years old and was buried Wednesday night at 22:30. The third victim was Jean Relevy, HY"D, (reported as Reloy in Ha'aretz) 68, from Gilo, a neighborhood at the southern edge of Jerusalem. Jean was in a vehicle when he was trapped and killed.

Now let's look at the killer, Hussam Duwiyat. He was an employee of the Jerusalem Municipality who lived in the Arab neighborhood of Tsur BaHer, which is adjacent to Armon haNetziv, a neighborhood in southeast Jerusalem where we had lived for five years. He was working on the site. This answers the question I had raised as to whether a terrorist grabbed the keys to the vehicle from a worker or not. But Duwiyat, who awoke on Wednesday morning a mere construction employee became a terrorist in doing the deed. He aimed to kill Jews, where there were lots of Jews.


Of course, the pro-Arab, pro-business, semi-official Ha'aretz has already absolved Hussam Duwiyat as a petty criminal run amok, not much different from his neighbor, Ala Abu-Dahim, who murdered eight students at Yeshivat Mercaz HaRav four months ago. But this goes in line with the general attitude of Ha'aretz towards this whole event, dismissing it as unimportant in the general scheme of things. They used Yaron Kutik, owner of a cafe located near where the bulldozer came to a halt, as their spokesman. He said, "This is the first time I've seen a terror attack happen right in front of my eyes, but this is not an attack that will affect us in the long term. Every Jerusalemite knows there's no such thing as a calm in Jerusalem. In a few days everyone will forget this attack and move on."

Of course, the folks in the rich suburbs of North Tel Aviv, where the publishers of Ha'aretz live, were not affected. They don't care. This happened in Jerusalem, where the "religious" Jews live. The writers at Ha'aretz do not realize how they expose the fault lines of the kulturkampf in Israel, and the fact that they chose to use this quote - a model of insensitivity to the mourners and to the dead - shows how little they value Jewish life. If they value Jewish lives so cheaply, why should an Arab be criticized for taking Jewish lives with such impunity? The underlying message of their whole article is directed at the cowardly but rich "reform" Jews of America, who chicken out of coming to Israel at the drop of a keffiyeh - "don't cancel your tours, it was just a couple of religious Jews who got killed - you're all safe here." The new "pro-business" Ha'aretz wants to make sure the money keeps flowing in.

More accurate coverage of this terror attack can be found at Arutz Sheva, where we see a repetition of events from the Mercaz HaRav killings in another interesting way. On that 15:00 Kol Yisrael news broadcast I heard on the bus, a member of Yasa"m, the swat team of the Israel Police usually used to beat up Jewish demonstrators, was heard to say, "I pulled out my gun, cocked it, and killed the terrorist."

Apparently, it did not quite happen this way.

Let's look at the Arutz Sheva piece a bit more closely. "Despite the mobilization of Yasam (special police anti-terror units) and other Israeli police forces, the terrorist was shot dead by a young religious off-duty Givati soldier who had just finished his basic training." The Jerusalem Post had a similar recitation of the facts in its original report (taken from my e-mail server). It reads as follows: "Police said that the driver plowed his vehicle into two public buses, toppling them over, and slammed into several cars. A soldier on leave took the gun from an elite policeman at the scene and shot the terrorist dead. The soldier is the brother-in-law of the IDF officer who killed the terrorist in the Mercaz HaRav Yeshiva attack, Channel 2 reported."

The soldier's name has been withheld by court order, partly to protect him from Arabs who might wish to kidnap or kill him in vengeance - which is why it has not been mentioned in this story either. But the revised report in the Jerusalem Post reads as follows: "The soldier, who cannot be identified due to a court order, said the attacker was shouting, 'Allahu Akbar.' As hundreds of people fled in panic, an elite police commando team on motorcycles sped toward the tractor, and one of the officers jumped on the tractor and shot the assailant dead."

Again, we see a religious soldier being slighted to favor the Israel Police - and to make it worse, that branch of the Israel Police that does the most egregious damage to believing Jews trying to secure the homeland here - Yasa"m - the bully goons of the secular government. Ilan Franko, the police chief in Jerusalem, did something similar to cover up the delayed response and irresolute actions of the Israel Police when Ala Abu-Dahim murdered eight students at Yeshivat Mercaz HaRav on 6 March of this year.

So, in these terror attacks, we see a careful pattern of news management - the government influenced press tries to minimize the importance of the attack, exonerate the attacker, and finally, if a religious Jew has in any way contributed to ending the attack, this contribution is erased in its entirety, leaving the secular regime to flex its muscles and show how well prepared it is to protect the citizens of this beleaguered country. When the exact opposite is the truth.

This analysis does not even begin to deal with the deliberate distortions of the news of this terror attack perpetrated by ("This is Londonistan") the BBC, caught by HonestReporting before it could be covered up.

For all this, the most important issue for me on Wednesday was not the killings or the news management and distortions by the foreign press. It was the fact that at the Central Bus Station, my bathroom away from home, the management is constructing toll booths to make sure that everyone who wishes to use any of the toilets there will have to pay a shekel. And of course, as the shekel rises against the dollar, the price of shaking hands with the unemployed goes up as well!


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