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Being the right or wrong color in Nablus

A mob of Palestinian Arabs hurled potentially lethal rocks at German tourists in a car bearing a yellow license plate, assuming they were Israeli Jews.

The smashed back window of a car driven by German tourists, attacked by Palestinian youth in Nablus in the West Bank on March 18, 2023. Photo by Nasser Ishtayeh/Flash90.
The smashed back window of a car driven by German tourists, attacked by Palestinian youth in Nablus in the West Bank on March 18, 2023. Photo by Nasser Ishtayeh/Flash90.
Stephen M. Flatow. Credit: Courtesy.
Stephen M. Flatow
Stephen M. Flatow is president of the Religious Zionists of America. He is the father of Alisa Flatow, who was murdered in an Iranian-sponsored Palestinian terrorist attack in 1995, and author of A Father’s Story: My Fight for Justice Against Iranian Terror. (The RZA is not affiliated with any American or Israeli political party.)

Innocent people of color were assaulted by a racist mob this past weekend. The victims were guilty of being the “wrong” color.

The wrong color license plate, that is.

It happened in the city of Nablus, the biblical city of Shechem, which has been governed by the Palestinian Authority since 1995.

Some German tourists were visiting the city. And why not? It is, after all, the site of the tomb of the biblical patriarch Joseph, a shrine that is dear to all who cherish the Hebrew Bible.

A mob of Palestinian Arabs hurled potentially lethal rocks at the automobile in which the tourists were riding, smashing its windows and injuring two of the passengers. According to Israeli media reports, they were “lightly injured.”

But don’t assume that “lightly injured” means just a scratch on the leg. It’s the Israeli Army’s terminology for classifying injuries; “light” means the victim is not in danger of losing a limb. “Moderate” means the victim could lose a limb; “serious” means he could lose his life.

So these “lightly” wounded tourists could have suffered broken bones, concussions or various types of permanent injuries. We’ll never know because journalists never follow up on such incidents.

How did the terrorists know to attack that particular car? It had a yellow-colored Israeli license plate, according to the German Ambassador to Israel Steffen Seibert. He tweeted: “A mob attacking tourists because they don’t like their license plate is disgusting and cowardly.”

Disgusting and cowardly is correct. But let’s be clear: The Arabs didn’t attack because of the color of the license plate; they attacked because a yellow-colored license plate means that the people in the car probably are Jews.

Think about the implications of that fact. The level of antisemitic hatred is so deep and so widespread in Nablus that the mere sight of a civilian automobile that might have Jews inside is sufficient to trigger the immediate, spontaneous gathering of a mob that will try to stone the maybe-Jews to death.

It’s not possible that the only violent antisemites in the city all happened to be congregating in that spot at the moment the German tourists’ car passed by. So in order for this attack to have occurred, there have to be so many violent Jew-haters in Nablus that any random car, passing through any part of the city at any moment, could be set upon by a deadly mob.

Imagine if in the United States, there was such an atmosphere of intense antisemitism in a particular city that potentially lethal mob attacks erupted at the mere sight of maybe-Jews.

Imagine the outcry from Jewish organizations and public officials. Imagine the front-page headlines of every newspaper in the country.
There are no Jews living in Nablus/Shechem today. Palestinian Arab terrorists drove them out in the 1930s. Ever since then, the Arab residents have maintained an apartheid-like policy of preventing Jews from returning to their old homes.

But Jewish worshippers do periodically pray or study in the yeshivah, which is housed in the building where the Tomb of Joseph is located. And that is their right—enshrined in the Oslo Accords, and is supposed to be guaranteed by the Palestinian Authority.

Look it up. It’s in the Oslo II agreement, signed by the P.A. and Israel on Sept. 28, 1995. Appendix 4 names two sites in P.A.-controlled territory that are considered “Jewish Holy Sites”: “1. Joseph’s Tomb (Nablus); 2. Shalom Al Israel Synagogue (Jericho).”

Then Article V(2)(b) states that those sites “will be under the responsibility of the Palestinian Police,” who are required “to ensure free, unimpeded and secure access to the relevant Jewish holy site” and “to ensure the peaceful use of such site, to prevent any potential instances of disorder and to respond to any incident.”

Yet the P.A.’s American-trained and American-armed security forces, which are among the largest per capita security forces in the world, are never around when Jews or maybe-Jews come to visit.

Jews who try to exercise their Oslo-guaranteed right to visit the Tomb of Joseph often are violently assaulted by Palestinian Arab terrorists hurling rocks and firebombs. Tourists who might be Jews likewise risk their lives if they dare to drive in the vicinity.

Tragically, the international community tolerates this outrageous situation. The constant violence perpetrated against Jews at the Tomb of Joseph continues to be one of the most under-reported stories in the Middle East for many years.

The reason that neither journalists nor Biden administration officials ever talk about the antisemitic violence in Nablus is painfully simple: It makes the Palestinian Arab cause look bad. And that makes it harder to advance the goal of creating a Palestinian state.

Stephen M. Flatow, is an attorney and the father of Alisa Flatow, who was murdered in an Iranian-sponsored Palestinian terrorist attack in 1995. He is the author of “A Father’s Story: My Fight for Justice Against Iranian Terror.”

The opinions and facts presented in this article are those of the author, and neither JNS nor its partners assume any responsibility for them.
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