Dumb justice

By David Dolan

I drove over the weekend to have coffee and cake with a friend who lives just off of Emek Refaim, a trendy Jerusalem street that runs parallel to Bethlehem Road through the city’s crowded southern neighborhoods. Since it was the Sabbath, the usually bustling thoroughfare and its recently renovated sidewalks were bathed in a velvet quiet, with most of its popular restaurants and coffee cafes closed for the weekly day of rest.

The lack of shoppers and cafe patrons turned the street into a temporary driver’s paradise. Although I didn’t have to fight the usual crush of cars, I still slowed down a bit as I drove past the Hillel coffee house. I couldn’t help but pause for a second to recall the terrorist explosion that wrecked the establishment less than one year ago. I heard the Sept. 9 blast while sitting in my apartment, as I did the much louder explosion this past Feb. 22 that ripped apart a city bus just one block from my home near the entrance to the Emek Refaim neighborhood.

When I returned in continuing light traffic to my apartment sanctuary later that afternoon, I was halted by a red light at the very intersection where the February blast occurred. While waiting for the light to turn green, I noticed that small portraits of the eight Jewish civilians slaughtered in the Palestinian terror attack are still hanging on a wire fence above the site of the atrocity.

A few burnt memorial candles rest silently on a stone ledge below the smiling, mainly youthful, faces. I uttered a short prayer for the families of the victims, and another of thanksgiving for the nearly five months of relative calm in the holy city since that horrible blast took place. Then I drove on to the safety of my nearby home.

I was shocked to learn the next morning that another cafe I drove past on Saturday afternoon had nearly been destroyed only one week earlier. I cringed as I listened to details of a report just released by the Israeli Shin Bet security agency. A 41-year-old Hamas terrorist – wearing the “usual” suicide belt – had actually been standing right outside Emek Refaim’s Caffit cafe on July 11, preparing to shoot dead the establishment’s male security guard and then storm into the cafe where he planned to detonate his powerful body bomb.

According to the security report, Malak Nasser A-Din had been dropped off by an Arab driver right in front of the Caffit cafe to carry out his bloody deed. But instead of killing the young guard and rushing into the restaurant, he suddenly decided to simply walk away. Nobody will ever know exactly why, said the report, since he was tracked down and killed in a gun battle with Israeli troops at a relative’s home in Hebron four days later. Security personnel are still searching for the explosive belt and gun, which A-Din is believed to have dumped somewhere in the Hinnon Valley just below my home.

Security officials point out that A-Din’s undetected entrance into Jerusalem, along with his subsequent unnoticed exit later the same day, were made possible by the fact that Israel’s controversial security barrier has not yet been completed around the city. This is obviously aiding Palestinian terrorist groups in their continuing vile attempts to devastate Israeli families in unholy homicide assaults.

Of course, none of this will factor into the United Nation’s latest anti-Israel resolution decrying the “Apartheid Wall” that Israel is constructing. Sponsored by over three dozen Palestinian allies, the resolution is but the first of an expected flood of U.N. diatribes in the wake of the World Court’s July 9 ruling that the security barrier is “illegal” and must be “immediately torn down.” The ultimate Palestinian goal is the imposition of crippling U.N. economic sanctions upon tiny Israel, designed to grind the world’s only Jewish-ruled country into the dry Mideast dust.

That the international justices only deigned to mention one time the main reason Israel is building the barrier – ongoing Palestinian terror attacks that have left over 800 Israelis dead and thousands wounded since November 2000 – is bad enough. As several Israeli commentators and politicians have noted, the judges added insult to injury by claiming that Article 51 of the United Nations Charter does not apply to the barrier case. That article defends the “inherent right of individual or collective self-defense if an armed attack occurs against a Member of the United Nations.”

Constructing a classic “Catch-22,” the justices (headed by a judge from China, which has illegally occupied Tibet since 1950) concluded that Israel is not “resisting armed attack” by building its security barrier because it is not fending off assaults from “another state.” Nevertheless, the justices opined that the fence is illegal since it is going up on “occupied Arab territory” – in other words, on some other nation’s land from where the deadly attacks are emanating!

Under this skewed logic, Israel is not entitled to defend itself by building a security barrier designed to stem the flood of domestic civilian casualties that are proportionally far greater than those suffered by America on 9-11. That the United States has overthrown two foreign governments as a result of al-Qaida’s heinous attacks – actions that are surely far more consequential than building a movable wire and concrete fence – apparently did not influence the World Court’s decision.

At the very least, constantly rebuked Israel will probably not be forced to emulate Washington by overthrowing Yasser Arafat’s corrupt Palestinian administration. It seems that the PLO chief’s own fed-up people are now ready to do that job themselves. Still, Israel will probably be blamed by the knee-jerk U.N. majority for the rising chaos in Arafat’s Palestinian Authority zones.

But whatever the world body says or does in the coming months, construction of the defensive barrier will continue until every Jerusalem cafe patron and bus passenger knows that the chances of suddenly being blown into oblivion have been reduced – by the “illegal” fence – to near zero.