A group of young Arabs from Jerusalem have set out on a mission to calm fellow Arabs in the city and turn them away from violence against Israel.
The Palestinian Authority has been openly inciting violence in the capital over the past few months, causing an escalation of violent acts in and around Jerusalem.
The escalation has reached a boiling point with the recent murders of three-month-old Chaya Zissel Braun, Karen Yemima Mosquera and a Border Patrol officer in terror attacks, and the assassination attempt on Rabbi Yehuda Glick, a prominent Temple Mount activist.
However, a young group of Arabs have initiated a PR campaign and created local meetups to try and put out the flames of violence. In spite of threats emanating from extremist elements among the Palestinian Arab population, the group passing on the message to young Arabs that violence is not the answer.
One of the groups leaders, Khatib Nuseiba (34), recently moved from Wadi Ara to Jerusalem. He has been active in the community for some time now, convincing young Arabs to enlist in national service and to work in healthcare or with the Arab population.
Nuseiba, who has been threatened numerous times by extremists who disdain his work, is not backing off. He has spearheaded meetups and walking groups around the city to meet the ‘Arab on the street’ in an effort to talk them out of violence.
The main core of Nuseiba’s group includes approximately 30 young Arabs all in their 20’s and 30’s. Their grassroots effort focuses on personal initiatives such as home meetings in flash-point areas to diffuse any potential violent situation that would involve the youth coming into conflict with Israeli police.
The Palestinian Authority and its partner Hamas have publicly called on Palestinians to rise up and carry out violent acts against Israel. Nuseiba’s group is hesitant to draw attention to itself due to fears of being targeted by radicalists among the Arab population.
According to a report in Yediot Acharonot, Nuseiba’s group places the blame for the uptick in violence primarily on the leadership of the city, both Jewish and Arab.
“The leadership in Jerusalem needs to make a clear statement and call for a cessation of violence, and end to the riots and a calming of tensions,” said one of the leaders who lives in Shu’afat, one of the largest hotbeds of radical activity in Jerusalem.
“The attacks on the light rail hurt all of the people on the eastern side of the city, Arabs included. However, the political powers that prevent building on the eastern side of the city, also prevent the populace there from receiving their basic needs, and this causes a lot of frustration and anger amongst the youth here,” he said.
Nuseiba was the only one among the group who agreed to have his name publicly mentioned. He said that due to the increase in violence and tensions, he has paused his efforts to convince Arab youth to join a national service program.
“From the way I see it, it is no longer relevant to talk about this in Jerusalem right now. We first need to talk about calming down the tensions between Arabs and Jews in this city. That is what is most important to me, and to most of the Arab citizens in the city right now,” he explained.
Nuseiba also said that there are Arabs who look down upon the efforts of the group and who label them “collaborators” and other insulting names. However, Nuseiba and the rest of this group are not planning on backing down anytime soon.
“If I believe in something strongly, then I have to be willing to accept both positive and negative feedback,” he said.