"Arab Lives Matter" in Israel Demands Israeli Police Fight Crime

Arab Lives Matter has arrived but looks nothing like BLM, or what AOC and Ilhan Omar would have been hoping for.

A little bit of context. 

Israel has different Arab populations from the Hamas and PLO territories to highly integrated Christian doctors and lawyers in major cities, to Arab towns that are legally part of Israel, but unofficially autonomous in the sense that the Israeli police don't go there. Building codes and zoning regulations are a joke. Cars get stolen and wind up there. So does a lot of other stolen property. And murders, especially honor killings, happen there with limited repercussions because it's hard to prosecute members of a clan who won't testify or who will all claim that they did it.

The Israeli solution, back to the independence era, was to provide subsidies but very limited enforcement of anything short of murder.

And murder is the issue.

It began with a shooting at a wedding in Taibe on Sept. 20. Alaa Sarsour, 25, was killed and a number of wedding guests were injured. Shortly after the incident, Sheren Falah Saab tweeted, “My name is Sheren. I am an Arab citizen of the State of Israel, and Arab lives matter.” She added the hashtag #Arab_Lives_Matter. Her post and others by other activists started a tremendous wave of similar tweets, with the same hashtag appearing in Hebrew, Arabic and English.

These new hashtags echo the slogan "Black Lives Matter" that exploded in the United States in the course of the wide protests against police brutality and institutionalized racism affecting the African-American community. However, in contrast to the US protests, the protest in Israel expressed anger, frustration and disappointment over the police's helplessness and inaction amid the violence that has spread in recent years in Israel’s Arab society.

Essentially they're demanding increased police intervention.

Social activist Nadin Abou Laban from Ramle, told Al-Monitor, “The goal is to raise a new discourse in the media and raise the subject of violence in Arab society to the national agenda. The time has come for Israel’s Hebrew-language media to take interest in the situation. The protest made writers and editors open their eyes and talk to us instead of talking about us.”

Last month, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett launched a national plan to combat crime in Arab society and designated a new police department to handle the issue. “Those who live in [Arab] Taibe should have the same physical security as those who live in [Jewish-majority] Kfar Saba,” said Bennett Aug. 11. Still, despite his grand words and actions, another 17 Arab citizens have been murdered since the program began.

The rest of the article is filled with claims and boasts by the mostly leftist ruling coalition to fight Arab crime.

The bottom line though is that the Israeli police are largely useless for anything except basic security because the 'Jewish' part of Israel has fairly low serious crime while the 'Arab' part of Israel has heavy crime that goes unpunished.

The murder stats tell the story.

Even though Arab Israelis constitute roughly 21% of the population, they accounted for 71% of the 125 homicides in Israel in 2019.

That's still a month of murders in some major U.S. cities.

The number of homicides among Jewish Israelis since 2016 has remained relatively constant: 38 in 2016; 44 in 2017; 35 in 2018; and 36 in 2019, according to the Israel Police.

Israeli Jews don't really kill each other much. Israeli Arabs do. It's a cultural issue which means it's manageable, but not solvable. 

The Israeli police don't really solve crimes (even less so than their U.S. counterparts) and would be completely useless when pitted against killings that originate in Israel's Arab clans. It would be a thankless job that the police would mostly not take on, and to the extent that they did take it on, would just court a backlash over abuses. It's a no-win situation that has been avoided in the past for very good reasons.

Commenters at The Point occasionally propose that the police just stop enforcing the laws in BLM cities. That's the scenario here.

To make matters worse, an investigation by the Haaretz daily in November found that many of the murders of Arab Israelis are going unsolved: Only 22% of homicides in Arab communities resulted in indictments by November 2020, as opposed to 53% of those in Jewish communities.

It's a lot easier to solve murders in a law-abiding society than a lawless one. 

In a society where murder is not a horrifying aberration but is considered a legitimate solution in some cases, solving them is all but hopeless. Israeli law enforcement would have to build a parallel Arab law enforcement system, one that would have the support and cooperation of Arab clan leaders, whose people would come forward to report crimes, testify against the perpetrators, and respect the outcomes. 

The United States had no luck trying to build law enforcement systems in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Israelis were wise enough not to try.

Any such efforts would inevitably be sucked into the clan politics and the police would either be a diverse impotent force (Afghanistan) or a corrupt clan force (Iraq).

There are a lot of calls for Israel to do things, but no credible program for how to do them.

There's also a lot of rhetoric accusing Israel of failing to provide services to populations in Arab towns. That argument would be stronger if the people in those towns actually paid taxes.

Taxes, like other laws, go by the wayside there.


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