Monday, March 17, 2008

Water and oil - Jews and Arabs in Israel?

On this morning's drive into work, I heard IDF radio personality Razi Barkai interview a resident of the Jerusalem "Jabbel Mukabre" neighborhood about last night's attempt to dismantle the house of the terrorist who shot up the Merkaz Harav Yeshiva a week and half ago.

This person's house came under a barrage of rocks by angry right wing demonstrators,
upset at the Israeli government's refusal to implement its own decision of dismantling the house of the terrorist...and they wanted to carry out the law themselves.
Razi asked the person; "How far do you live from the terrorist's house?"

The person replied, "about 2 kilometers...but the real question you need to ask me is how did a young person who was about to get married, get into the situation where he did this thing"

Razi: "OK, why don't you tell me what were the motives behind the terrorist's attack?"

The person replied: "We are brothers and sisters of the Palestinian nation, and seeing day after day children in Gaza killed by the IDF, he did what he did. And then last night, this large group of settlers came and threw rocks at my house on their way to that person's house. How dare they."

Initial thoughts that came to mind:

1. The Arab interviewee justifies the action of the terrorist because of "seeing day after day [Arab] children killed by the IDF", yet gets all Judge Judy indignant when a crowd wants revenge for seeing yeshiva students killed by a resident of his neighborhood and they throw rocks at his home. Doesn't he see any comparison?

2. Arab kids throw rocks all the time, they are released by the justice system immediately (in the best case that they were even detained)

3. Why did the group throw rocks? They would have been far more effective if they just marched into the neighborhood and held signs: "We demand the eviction of terrorists and their supporters" That would have conveyed their message just as clearly.

Initial reports right after the terror attack at Merkaz HaRav (which I personally heard on IDF radio and Israel Radio channel 2) that the terrorist was a bus driver, employed by the Merkaz HaRav yeshiva. Within 24 hours this was denied by Merkaz HaRav. Some have commented to me that they think he did work there, but Merkaz HaRav didn't want to admit it, so they denied it.

And of the foremost Gedolim and poskim of our generation, R' Chaim Kanievsky formally announces that one should not hire Arabs...and definitely not in yeshivot....for it's a matter of life and death...and we are at war with them.

No distinction was made between Israeli Arab and Palestinian Arab (the terrorist who attacked Merkaz HaRav was an Israeli Arab).

Rafi G. asks the same question that I thought of; why is it suddenly forbidden to hire Arabs, yet the Ultra Orthodox world has no problem buying Shmitta produce from Israeli Arabs...and even Palestinian Arabs in Gaza! We have been saying for years that its a matter of life and death, and yet everyone turned a blind eye to the inherent danger of buying produce from Gaza Arabs?

I wonder if the Police will now target R' Chaim Kanievsky -- people who printed t-shirts advocating only Jewish Labor were arrested, tried, and found guilty of "incitement" a few years back.

Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael טובה הארץ מאד מאד


JoeSettler said...

At JoeSettler we are discussing the general lack of violence on the part of Jews against those who commit violence against us.

Gee a Moron said...

I think you have to distinguish between the Ultra Orthodox world and the Dati Leumi world as represented by Mercaz HaRav. Much of the Hareidi world has no problem with buying arab produce during Shmitta. Mercaz HaRav is the leading proponent of the Heter Mechira.

This past Shabbat I saw something that troubled me even more in the Hebrew edition of the Hareidi Mishpacha Magazine. Both the Hebrew edition and the English edition had articles of Nichum Aveilim for the families of victims and both had articles expressing their shock out the outrage committed in a study hall of Torah. What bothered me was an article that appeared in Hebrew but not in English entitled something like "When Mercaz HaRav looked like the Hevron Yeshiva" showing a photograph of Mercaz HaRav students 50 years ago dressed in what today would be considered "modern" Hareidi garb (suits and black hats) as opposed to today's Mercaz HaRav "uniform" of kippa seruga. And somehow that made the Yeshiva holier then than it is now. Is this really important when our brothers' blood is crying at us from the ground?

Olah Chadasha said...

I totally agree with your assessment on the Shmita issue when these same people have no problem with Palestinian produce and supporting the Palestinian economy, which then gets stolen by the controlling Fatah and Hamas groups, which is then used to buy fire arms, which are then used to shoot up Israelis and Jews.

Yup, no problems there.

Gee a Moron said...

Looking at your post again, I think instead of "Jabbel Mukabre" I would prefer to spell the name of the neighborhood as "Jabbel Macabre" (tartei mashma).

Anonymous said...

one of the main principles of mussar is to first look at ourselves, before even consiering pointing our finger at others. i am also perplexed by the shmitta issue.

i live in a yishuv where many people won't buy 'arab' produce - and i agree with them. where i'm perplexed, though, is that these self same people are using arabs to build their houses, do their gardening, work in their garages and bakeries and fix their toilets.

jameel - we can't point the finger at the chareidim for the very same hypocrisy we ourselves are displaying.

the best place to start with this is ourselves, and our own communities.

we should stop using arabs, period - there is a real chance to promote achdut between ourselves and other jews here, instead of taking the 'easy' (and destructive) option of pointing out the faults in other communities that we are just as guilty of ourselves.

Jameel @ The Muqata said...

Anonymous 1:45

I agree we should definitly examine our own actions; when we had a simcha not so long ago, I insisted our caterer only use Otzar HaAretz produce.

While I cannot influence my neighbors other than through my own actions; we strive to use only avoda ivrit.

Unfortunately, many, many kablanei sherut (fix it people, service people) who are Jewish, and therefore claim to be "Avoda Ivrit" -- they just oversee the work of their own Arab laborers (but they charge twice as much).

When I did the shopping a few weeks ago, and "olive oil" was on the list, I had to work very hard to find the oil from "Meshek Achiya" (from Jews in Shilo) -- almost every makolet in yesha has non "avoda ivrit" olive oil...

Pesky Settler said...

Actually R' Kanievsky is quoted as saying that as long as it's cost efficient to hire non-Arab labor, one should do so.

I guess buying Arab produce falls under that caveat.

Am Kshe Oref - A Stiff-Necked People said...

"'We are brothers and sisters of the Palestinian nation, and seeing day after day children in Gaza killed by the IDF, he did what he did.'"

So, from their perspective, because Israeli's have supposedly been killing Gazan children day after day, what this guy did is OK.

How is this different, then, from Baruch Goldstein, a doctor who snapped at the same thing, only it was Arabs killing Jewish children?

Not that I advocate what Dr. Goldstein did, but just how IS this different?

Hypocrisy at its best.

Anonymous said...

it's very, very difficult to be consistent (although re: the olive oil, i think the olive press in tekoa (black bottles, millstone on the front)is jewish owned and operated.

there are no 'easy' answers - and kol hakavod to you, jameel, for making an effort with otzer haaretz. we are also trying our best to do that, and it's not easy.

but there is a deeper issue here about how important these things are to us. i hear you on the kablan front - we are currently doing renovations. we didn't even get a quote from an arab, or a kablan who uses arabs, as i'd rather have no work done than give them parnassa.

i'm sure we are paying more than otherwise - but i feel so incredibly happy that i'm giving parnassa to another jew (and his jewish workers) in the gush; and that i'm not potentially endagering people in my yishuv just so i can have a bit more luxury in my house.

if it gets to a point where arab labour is simply unacceptable - and jewish customers will rather go without than compromise on this point - businesses and builders will get the message very quickly and react accordingly.

Anonymous said...

It's the classic Bnei Brak response - just find something to assur, think about the details and consequences later.

Anonymous said...

yep -- we cant forget that arabs built so much of our country, and continues to do.

so. bottom line: was this guy an employee of merkaz, or not? id really love to get a definitive answer to that question.

also, decades ago rav shach said what r chaim k. just reiterated. back in the early 90s mir did not have a single arab worker.

bec said...

forgive me if i'm naive, but if the whole idea of shmitta comes from the torah and it says something to the effect of if we follow the laws (in this case, of shmitta) then hashem will protect us from our enemies, then the politics of purchasing arab produce shouldn't be a problem. while i personally wouldn't purchase gazan produce as this would fund the perpetuation of their daily rocket launchings, and while i wouldn't necessarily go out of my way to purchase wildwestbank produce grown by arabs, i'm not completely opposed to the latter. heter mechira relies not on hashem but rather on our own political solutions to the conflict.

Anonymous said...


I think R. Chaim's words imply that arabs shouldn't be hired under any circumstances because of the danger involved. It is only non-muslims who may be hired when there is a significant price difference, because there the only reason not to hire them is to give the business to Jews who could use it.

Lion of Zion said...


"Actually R' Kanievsky is quoted as saying that as long as it's cost efficient to hire non-Arab labor, one should do so."

actually (iirc from the article posted by rafi f.), he distinguishes between arab and non-jewish labor. arab labor is always forbidden. non-jewish (but non-arab) labor is permitted iof there is a big diffrence in cost outlays

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