View from Netanya

Israel is beginning to get nervous about the actions of both extremist Arabs and extremist Jews in the West Bank and Jerusalem. Arab terrorism and’s Jewish settler response are not going to go away so long as there is no peace treaty (and perhaps not even afterwards) but their ability to destroy the fragile modus vivendi that exists for most of the time is worrying.

Very early this morning Wednesday 12th November a mosque was torched in Ramallah. Instant retaliation has of course been threatened, and presumably something may happen. At the same time there is a worrying trend in knife attacks from lone terrorists. An air force sergeant was stabbed to death at the Hagana railway station in Tel Aviv on Monday, and on the same day a young woman was attacked and killed at a bus stop in the West Bank settlement of Gush Etzion. Such attacks are difficult to predict and very difficult to stop, and receive considerable publicity. Although there is more knife crime in London, Jews are news.

There is a very worrying Bill before the Knesset which aims to close down a free newspaper called Yisrael Hayom. This is funded by the American Sheldon Adelson who also contributes heavily to Republican funds. The newspaper is generally regarded as Netanyahu’s mouthpiece (terms used in the Knesset were considerably less reasoned) and because its advertising rates are kept very low it is alleged to be driving other newspapers close to insolvency. The bill passed first reading in the Knesset by a clear majority but will hopefully fail in committee. Opposition to the bill came from a wide cross-section of parties including one Arab MK said that closing a newspaper “is disrespectful to Israeli democracy”.