If you were wondering how those two bulldozer attacks were able to take place so easily, so freely in Jerusalem last month, this post ought to give you a pretty good insight. How could Palestinians just on a whim take bulldozers and plow through traffic? What is Jerusalem, one big construction zone or something?
In fact, yes it is. Jerusalem has been planning on, and has finally really begun construction on, utilizing a light-rail system to replace key bus routes. Essentially, it will be an electric railroad through the city. If you follow that previous link and take a look at the pictures, it is shaping up to be an absolutely gorgeous system. It's taking a long time, but if everything goes as planned, it should be a unique modern addition to an ancient, traditional city. I'm excited.
For now I hate life in Jerusalem. I took a bus today that went through the center of the city; normally a 40 minute ride or so. This time with the heavy construction, nearly two hours. That was fun. I think I'll walk from now on.
So, if you looked at the picture I posted at the top there, you'll see the main street of Jerusalem's downtown, Jaffa Street (Rechov Yaffo), totally obliterated and dug up. Just a few weeks ago this street was packed with buses and taxis. Now, and from now on with the light-rail system (whenever that actually happens), this section of the 'road' is strictly pedestrian and rail. I don't know if it's going to ease congestion. I don't know if it's going to work at all. But, right now it's certainly not working, and not just because of the traffic nightmare.
How did those Palestinian men go on rampages through main Jerusalem streets with bulldozers? Easily. It seems to me, as I've walked around the past couple weeks all through Jerusalem, from the German Colony area, to downtown, to the central bus station, that Palestinian men are working with bulldozers, Bobcats, road ripper uppers, all types of weapon-like vehicles with absolutely no supervision. No foreman was in sight as I walked down a heavy pedestrian side-street today and dodged two Palestinian men in Bobcats. No supervision was to be found as some guys with a full-size bulldozer shifted rubble on congested Keren HaYesod street.
I'm not going so far as to claim that Palestinians need to be supervised. I'm especially not saying that Palestinians are evil, and they aren't to be trusted. But, I have to tell you, I've never ever in my time here in Israel felt a wariness of Arabs, who are to be found everywhere in Jerusalem, like I feel walking the streets lately. I have never walked past a group of young Arab men, as I do daily, and felt anything bordering on fear or apprehension. Not until recently, that is.
This is on Jaffa Street. There is a barrier here because of the pedestrian dominance of the street. But with my hands I could pull that fence down...
The strangest thing, and I want to italicize this to show you just how sickening I find this, is that I know they feel my suspicion. I have never walked past an Arab, made eye contact, and seen a sheepish look. Until recently. Walking past some of these guys working on the side of the street, no barrier or even rope between us, I have made eye contact and noticed an undeniable expression of uneasiness. I can't even put it in words.
I see them. They see me. They look at me as I walk by. I stare at them as they work, stare at the vehicle as I walk by. A face of suspicion. A face of...
I can't quite understand what I have seen. I swore that once it was shame. Once, I swear, it was like the look of a beaten dog. I feel that two men, two savages, have stolen my innocence in a way. I've lived in Israel during a war, through numerous suicide bombings, and I've even witnessed a homemade explosive being detonated on this very downtown street of Yaffo. I've been through all that. I have no illusions of life here.
Yet, you can't just look at every Arab after a suicide bombing and think 'terrorist.' In my mind and heart, from my first-hand experiences, it just doesn't work that way. But how can you not feel wary of an Arab with free reign over bulldozers in a crowded pedestrian walkway after two unprovoked attacks during a 'ceasefire' like we just saw? Should I feel bad about my instinct of self-preservation? I'm open to suggestions, concurrence, and criticisms.
What I know for a fact is that the men I have walked by who are working on the streets of Jerusalem with dangerous vehicles are not themselves dangerous - not until an incident occurs, of course. They shouldn't have to work in suspicion. I feel terrible for them. But what can I do?