View from Netanya

I did security outside shul last Shabbat. This is an experience which is very new to me since in Radlett I am regarded as being “otherwise engaged” and not liable for such duties.

To begin with I wondered whether it was not an unnecessary knee-jerk reaction. Unlike Jerusalem, Netanya and its areas are almost exclusively Jewish and the nearest Arab towns are either on the Green Line (the pre-1967 borders) or even across it in places like Tulkarem. There are Arabs who work in Netanya – my pharmacist is one – but they are a relative rarity.

Then I remembered the Park Hotel bombing on Seder night 2002. The hotel stands at the corner of the street where I live and the events of that night are a very vivid memory. If that could happen in Netanya then it could happen anywhere and I went to do my security very willingly.

In any case security is common everywhere in Israel. There are armed guards outside my grandchildren’s schools, and having to pass security before you go into the local supermarket is normal.

My friends in Jerusalem say that they no longer go to supermarkets where the butchers are Arabs. No matter how long they have worked there, they would rather that the cleavers were wielded by Jews.

Their daughter, who used to opt for her groceries to be delivered at home as this saved her time and trouble with small children, no longer does so. The delivery boys are Arabs and she would rather not have them in her house especially when her husband isn’t home.

The trouble is of course that if we are ever to achieve peace we will have to be able to deal comfortably with Arabs, and the actions of an Arab minority are making this increasingly difficult.