(Nati Shohat/Flash90/FILE)

The Zionist Organization of America in Israel is urging the US consulate in Jerusalem – the de facto embassy for local Palestinian Arabs – to demand a change in PA policy and zero tolerance for rock-throwing incidents.

American Citizen Attacked on Way to Funeral

Last month, American citizen Tova Richler and her family were attacked by rock-throwing Arabs on their way to the Mount of Olives Cemetery to attend her father’s funeral.

The Zionist Organization of America’s Israel director, Jeff Daube, sent a letter to Jerusalem Consul General Michael Ratney, with copies to the U.S. State Department, which Ratney represents. Daube cited an article about Richler, which described her inability to attend her own father’s funeral due to the shock of the attack. He also referred to other recent stoning attacks on American citizens that resulted in serious injury, while reminding the consul that the situation has deteriorated over many years. He sent copies to a dozen leaders in the U.S. and Israel who are especially concerned with the growing threat to the cemetery and its eastern Jerusalem environs.

Rock-Throwing Arabs Hit American Student

The violence, although intense in the Mount of Olives area, is not limited to the eastern section of the city. Only yesterday, near the Meah Shearim neighborhood, a car was attacked by rocks and glass bottles.

On Tuesday evening, an American teenage student was hit in the face by a rock-throwing Arab in the Old City during Jerusalem Day celebrations. According to Israel National News, Ahuva Schwartz, a Jerusalem resident, said: “It started raining rocks and glass.” On Wednesday, a police officer was injured.

In his letter, Daube cited an article about Richler, which described her inability to attend her own father’s funeral due to the shock of the attack. He also referred to other recent stoning attacks on American citizens that resulted in serious injury, while reminding the consul that the situation has deteriorated over many years.

US Consulate Can Influence PA Policy

Having previously raised the problem in several meetings and letter correspondence, including with Ratney’s predecessor Consul General Daniel Rubinstein — without any known steps thus far having been taken by any U.S. official to mitigate the disgraceful status quo — Daube suggested that it was time for Ratney to enter the conversation.

As the de facto U.S. embassy for the Palestinians, the Consulate has the right and access to demand from the Palestinian Authority that it change harmful policies; for example, the dogmatic religious bigotry that is rife in its own schools and mosques.

As in past communications, the letter requested unqualified condemnation from the Consul General for the stoning attacks and that he elicit condemnations (spoken in Arabic) combined with preventive action from the relevant Arab parties. Such parties would include local Arab leaders.

Rock-Throwing Aims to Kill Jews

Daube’s letter additionally asked that the Mount of Olives area attacks, whose aim is to injure and/or kill Jews, be included in the 2014 iteration of two State Department annual reports, Country Reports on Human Rights Practices and Country Reports on Terrorism. Daube spotlighted the omission he discovered in the 2013 terrorism report, which did however contain “extensive and disproportional” references to the price tag attacks on Arab property. Daube declared the latter warranted unequivocal condemnation, but not any more so than Arab attacks on Jewish lives.

“It’s a no-brainer that mourners and pilgrims of all nationalities should not have to worry about terror and intimidation, or be confronted with desecrated gravestones and deliberately strewn garbage when they visit Judaism’s holiest cemetery,” Daube told United with Israel. “That consulate officials have not ever contacted and supported at least the American victims nor voiced concern to them nor expressed outrage, let alone condemnation, is very disappointing. Hopefully the recent attacks on Ms. Richler…will catalyze an adequate response to the habitual civil and human rights abuses directed at Jews in this and other parts of eastern Jerusalem.”

More than 100 Attacks Occur each Month

Figures released by Israeli security prove just how serious the situation has become.

In the month of March, Jews living in the Har Hazeitim (Mount of Olives) area neighborhoods were attacked by Arabs with rocks, boulders or Molotov cocktails at least 157 times. There were 150 reported attacks in February and 140 in January. The fewest number of reported attacks in any month over the last 18 months have been nearly 80. Public Security Ministry head Yitzchak Aharonovitz told the Knesset Interior Committee that 66% of violent crimes in the country go unreported, so the numbers cited may very well be understated.

Meanwhile, the International Committee for the Preservation of Har Hazeitim (ICPHH) — Daube is co-chair of the Israel division — has been urging Israeli authorities to take necessary steps toward fully safeguarding the Mount of Olives cemetery area. Daube thanked the relevant agencies for the new security cameras and police substation, which ICPHH had lobbied persistently to see implemented. But, Daube added, more needs to be done legislatively about deterrence, including meaningfully punishing the perpetrators.

Police to Install 500 New Cameras

Police have agreed to install 500 new cameras over the course of three years in order to increase a feeling of security among civilians.

“The government has taken and will continue to take significant steps, including unpublicized ones, to secure eastern Jerusalem,” Daube told UWI. “Realigning police districts for greater efficiency and installing greater numbers of security cameras are part of that effort. That said, we still have a long way to go. Passage of laws that would allow the police to take more meaningful action in terms of enforcement would help. Rooting out the virulent incitement whipping up Arab rock-throwing youth — hate-filled messages that permeate their schools, summer camps, televisions and mosques — would be the most effective antidote, however, in the long run.”

Written by: United with Israel Staff