March 8, 2004 | Ultra-orthodox Jewish attack in Jerusalem

On this day in 2004 dozens of ultra-orthodox Jews attacked Arab taxi drivers with rocks in Jerusalem, wounding two (one went to hospital).

It worries me to have to say that not all terrorist attacks are perpetrated by jihadis: lots of other groups are equally as capable.

JERUSALEM, ISRAEL — When I post things to social media platforms such as LinkedIn I get a wide variety of responses. Some readers agree with me, some don’t. Some make useful comments and engage in civil discourse while others are ok with posting unhelpful and nasty comments. Oh well, it is social media after all.

In this series I have tried to highlight attacks that I find interesting for a variety of reasons: a country that rarely finds itself victim of terrorism; a particularly egregious attack; a truly heartrending story; etc. What I have opted for is that key word- variety.

If I had so chosen I could very easily have decided to feature an attack by any one of a very large number of Islamist extremist organisations since these terrorists BY FAR cause the vast majority of deaths worldwide, at least in the post 9/11 period. And I do write on this frequently, as my blogs will attest.

But at the same time I am trying to make the point that while jihadis have been, are and will remain at the head of terrorist attacks and deaths for the foreseeable future, they are not the only ones out there. Any serious examination of terrorism shows that no, jihadis are not the sole bringers of death and destruction. Narrowing my focus solely to religiously-inspired groups no one can say that Islam has a monopoly on terrorism, a point I made in my latest book When Religion Kills.

Today’s attack is a good example of an attack, albeit a small scale one. On this day in 2004 dozens of ultra-orthodox Jews attacked Arab taxi drivers with rocks in the Me’a Sharim neighborhood of Jerusalem, wounding two (one went to hospital) and damaging a car.

You might dismiss this as a non-event: two injured, no deaths, no big deal. Except that the religious intolerance and hate we associate with Islamist extremists shares a lot with that the views of the ultra-orthodox Jews in Israel. They too reject modernity. They too try to oppose their ante-antediluvian views on others. They too despise ‘secular’ Jews. They too attack those of other faiths (i.e. Muslims). Can someone please tell me how this is different?

Benjamin Netanyahu

No, I will probably not have to start writing about mass casualty terrorist attacks by ultra orthodox Jews any time soon. I can safely say that yes jihadis will continue to dominate the headlines.

But I defy anyone to convince me that this form of hate is not exactly the same. Go ahead, I am listening.

PS as I write this (on March 2, 2020) it looks like probable criminal Benjamin Netanyahu will be returned as Israeli Prime Minister. He of course has been in bed with the ultra orthodox, on whom he relies for propping up in the fractious Knesset (Israeli parliament), for years. If the early results stay the same expect no effort by ‘Bibi’ to crack down on this form of religious (violent) extremism.

By Phil Gurski

Phil Gurski is the President and CEO of Borealis Threat and Risk Consulting Ltd. Phil is a 32-year veteran of CSE and CSIS and the author of six books on terrorism.

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