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Killing Haifa’s Co-Existence

01 October 2003

By Yisrael Ne’eman

Yesterday 19 Israelis were killed and over 60 wounded in the Maxim Restaurant in Haifa.  Maxim was established over 40 years ago by a Jewish-Arab partnership, in the best traditions co-existence.  No city in Israel or the Middle East is as pluralistic as Haifa.  Christians and Moslems (most of whom are Arab and some who are not), Druze and Jews work, build, live, celebrate and mourn together. 

Maxim was the most practical everyday expression of co-existence possible.  The guard at the door who attempted to halt the attack was a Christian Arab from Wadi Nisnas in the city.  Members of the Macabbi Haifa soccer team and management adopted the restaurant years ago as their social anchor and were among the injured.  Macabbi has always had Arab players, from Zaher Armeni of yesteryear to Walid Badir of today.  As for the HaPoel Haifa rivals, “hapoel” means “the worker” and the red bannered team has been the favorite of the city’s workers, both Jewish and Arab throughout its history.  When the teams clash, Jews and Arabs line up with their respective favorites and curse each other out in Hebrew, Arabic or any other language.   What is important is whether you are red or green, not a Jew or Arab.

During the 1948 War of Independence Mayor Abba Khushi pleaded with the Arab sector comprising 45%, not to leave, but to stay and build a pluralistic society together in the Jewish state to be.  Instead most listened to the exiled Grand Mufti sitting in Lebanon and fled north, leaving them as refugees to this day.  Those who remained make up 10% of Haifa’s populace and for the most part have found their way towards integration, so much so that Miss Israel in1999 came from their ranks and better yet Hapoel Haifa took the championship (I admit to partiality here).

Former mayor and present Labor Knesset member Amram Mitzna speaks of Maxim as in his back yard.  “I’ll meet you at Maxim”, “Pick me up at Maxim”, “I’ll drop you off at Maxim” and so on.  Greeting you when entering the city from the south Maxim is beyond a symbol, it is a popular institution where friends meet for a good Middle Eastern meal in an atmosphere of co-existence.  This Shabbat was no different.

The female terrorist was a lawyer, 29 year old, Hanadi Taisir Jerdat from Jenin.  She was a member of the Islamic Jihad as were her brother and cousin, both of whom were killed in IDF anti-terror activities.  It only proves that formal education has little to do with values.  The average Haifa worker believes in co-existence and supports a two state solution.  A supposedly “liberated” well-educated woman from Jenin would not consider compromise but rather death and destruction as she detonated herself next to a baby carriage in the restaurant.  But there is no liberation when marching to the fanatical Islamic Jihad death tunes and she was certainly not educated but only technically trained in the legal profession.  She understood nothing of human rights.

Even the hard line leftist journalist (Ma’ariv and the NYC Forward) Hemi Shalev puts all the blame for violence on the Palestinians and even infers Arafat’s responsibility.  The “expel Arafat” debate has arisen again, as has the demand for completion of the security fence, both almost to the point of boredom.

Unfortunately the security forces only have a 95% success rate halting terror.