By Daniella Peled
September 23, 2008
The news of the latest attack in Jerusalem came with a sense of inevitability. A vehicle driven into a crowd of people; the young driver, a resident of East Jerusalem, shot dead by a passing soldier.
And the response is likely to have that same predictable logic, or lack of it: angry statements about the "enemy within", messages of support from Palestinian armed groups keen to ally themselves with an event they had nothing to do with, and, of course, calls for the driver's house to be demolished. Defence Minister Ehud Barak loudly demanded that the legal process should be hurried up so that the family home of any such attacker could be razed to the ground as soon as possible.
This is the third such attack by East Jerusalemites in as many months, but neither the motive nor the solution has become any clearer.
Was this terrorism? Again, it's hard to tell. The teenager's parents insist it wasn't, and that he was acting in a state of despair after having been jilted by a cousin he had wanted to marry. Or are we looking at an Israeli version of what police elsewhere have long defined as "suicide by cop"?
And what's the solution? A wall can't be built to separate off East Jerusalem. Apart from practical, legal and ethical issues, that would contradict the fiction that this is a shared and unified city. And again laying moral principles aside, the IDF long ago decided that from a purely practical point of view demolishing the homes of attackers had no deterrent effect at all.
The people calling for such extreme measures are only shouting this loudly to hide the uncomfortable truth that there is no easy solution at all. That, maybe, is the most frightening thing of all.