Kim Levengrond Yehezkel, 28, and Ziv Hajbi, 35, were shot dead by a Palestinian terrorist on this Sunday, October 7. Both had worked at Alon Group, which manufactures waste management systems, at the Barkan Industrial Park near the settlement-city of Ariel. Levengrond Yehezkel was secretary to the CEO, while Hajbi worked in accounting.
Levengrond was apparently handcuffed by the shooter, a Palestinian employee of the Alon Group, prior to being shot – a particularly gruesome act of savagery.
I was at the Barkan Industrial Park in January seeing firsthand the mechanics of this dynamic and cooperative Israel-Palestinian Industrial Park. It is truly a fascinating place, where over 8,000 people work, with a 50-50 split between Israeli and Palestinian workers. There is minimum security at the entrance to the Park, purposely so I was told, in order to strengthen the cooperation between the local Israeli and Palestinian populations.
The people I met during my visit all stressed the desired to cooperate and find a way of living peacefully together. Being the cynic I am about this part of the world, I kept wondering if this was Potemkin-like in its proposition that cooperation between Israelis and Palestinians is possible. But walking into and around the Industrial Park without seeing guards made me realise that these two warring communities were trying to find a new and different way forward.
The shooting itself then is so very tragic at so many levels.
- It clearly tears at the fabric and sinews of cooperation. For those on both sides who are predisposed to mistrusting each other, this will feed into, and magnify their views and give an echo chamber to their “see, we told you they can’t be trusted” negativity. Especially the chauvinist nativist Right in Israel, like the Israel Home Party, and the lunatic Hamas and Islamic Jihad Jew-haters.
- And that, in turn, gives vent to the populists who thrive on people’s pain and make the situation an endless spiral of playing to the lowest and most vile common denominator of all – fear and hatred of the other.
- The worst elements in Palestinian culture celebrate the murders. This was evident in the graphic images of people in the Palestinian street handing around of lollies as a sweet reward for the killing of Jews. This culture reinforces the hand of those who dream of destroying Israel.
- Those fantasies of destroying Israel reinforce the Palestinian narrative of not needing to come to the negotiating table and thrash out a Two-State solution. This seems to be the dominant mindset of the Palestinian leadership, reinforced by the Left’s endorsement of unilateral Palestinian Statehood and avoidance of the hard compromises needed for a real solution to the Israel-Palestine problem.
- The Palestinian employees are paid Israeli wages. That’s anywhere between 3 and 5 times Palestinian pay. The attack, while directly affecting all of Israel, will ultimately make it worse for the Palestinians economic aspirations when Israeli employers choose not to hire Palestinians for fear of terrorism.
The only winners in this mini-disaster are those who seek continued conflict and fantasise that the solution to the Israel – Palestine conflict is a violent conflagration, not a political solution.
Adam Slonim is co-convenor of the Australia Israel Labor Dialogue, a member of the Advisory Board of the John Curtin Research Centre and an adjunct fellow at the Sir Zelman Cowen Centre at Victoria University.
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