Nir Barkat: How To Beat Terrorism
Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat was the first politician of several to address the approximately 500 people who attended the Shurat HaDin conference on 20-21 June. Barkat focused on combatting terrorism, something he defined as the exploitation of civilian life and civil rights for political ends.
Called Toward a New Law of War, the conference dealt mainly with how the law can be effectively mobilized to fight terrorist acts and demonization of Israel. Barkat, however, opened the conference on a positive note, talking about what he knows best – management. He stated that proper management of terror means preventing terrorist acts. This involves a two-pronged approach:
- Intelligence: knowing who the ‘bad guys’ are. Barkat claims that when you know who they are, you can work toward keeping them on the defensive so that they cannot commit offensive acts. You also go after their supporters — their friends and family — and the infrastructure that is necessary for them to carry out terrorist activities. Anyone who appears to be cooperating with the ‘bad guys’ need to be undermined.
- Working with local administration in Arab neighbourhoods: Mayor Barkat says he has extended the school day for high schools in Jerusalem to show parents that the municipality wants kids to be successful. He says that this serves as a sign that Jerusalem wants to cooperate with families in promoting decent lives for her residents.
Barkat claims that advancing education and cultural and social services shows local Arab administrations and residents that the city wants “to separate the good guys from the bad guys.” The municipality works with the police and security agencies to support the “good guys, who may be in danger.”
There is substance to Barkat’s claim that the good guys may be in danger. In May of this year, social activist Baha Nababta, 31, was gunned down by an unidentified assailant on a motorcycle, apparently because he was working with the Israelis. Nababta sought to improve the infrastructure and services in Shuafat, where he lived. Shuafat is technically part of Jerusalem but because of the terrorist activities there, there are barricades dividing the neighbourhood (refugee camp) from the rest of the city. The barricades have prevented the city from providing the same level of infrastructure (roads, water, etc) that it should receive as part of Jerusalem.
IN MEMORY of a great man: Baha Nababta, Palestinian peace activist Shoafat refugee camp shot dead Monday by radicals pic.twitter.com/2gWKiTAtVz
— Children of Peace (@ChildrenofPeace) May 12, 2016
The example of Shuafat illustrates the dilemma Barkat described during his talk. He said that for security reasons, it is important to isolate the neighbourhoods from which terror comes. But this stands in conflict with the rights of the residents of the neighbourhoods to a decent quality of life. If roadblocks are put up around a neighbourhood because of intelligence regarding a terrorist threat, it creates a distinct hardship for the residents.
Barkat told the conference audience that the local Arab leadership understands Jerusalem’s security needs but is unwilling to sustain the damage to quality of life. When the Arab administration takes responsibility and promises to reduce the danger, the roadblocks are lifted.
If kids turn to terror, everyone suffers.
What does it mean that Shuafat still sits behind barriers?
Finally, Barkat talked about how life goes on after a terror attack. Support is provided to the victims (and the perpetrators if still alive) and forensic investigations at the crime scene are carried out. After forensics are completed, “it takes a half-hour for the city to go back on track,” according to the mayor.
Barkat was proud to state that in Jerusalem, when a terror event takes place, people run TO the scene and not away – they run to engage and to offer their help.