The brick that almost killed him and how societies react

In the United States, someone who throws a brick at a motorist is regarded by everyone as a despicable criminal. Abbas disagrees. Opinion.

Stephen M. Flatow ,

Deir Abu Mashaal rock throwers
Deir Abu Mashaal rock throwers
Flash 90

A neighbor said it had been “a very normal day” in picturesque Worcester, Massachusetts—until the attack that, in the space of a few seconds, shattered a local motorist’s life.

Manny Oliveras, 37, and his fiancée were running errands when they became the random targets of four 15 and 16 year-olds who decided to throw bricks at moving cars. One brick smashed through the windshield of Oliveras’s car, causing him “very serious” and “permanent” injuries, according to the local police.

On a Go Fund page set up to help defray Oliveras’s medical expenses, his fiancée described him as “ a loving, dedicated father to our teenage son and a loyal son to his sick widowed mother who he has been taking care of since his father passed away. Now he cannot…”

I feel for Manny Oliveras. For years, I have watched with incredulity and anguish as thousands of Israelis have become victims of similar attacks. No matter how many times such assaults take place, on either side of the Atlantic, we must never get used to them.

By my count, at least 16 Israelis—including four American citizens—have been murdered by Arabs throwing rocks or bricks at them. Just a few weeks ago, an Arab terrorist used a rock to murder Esther Horgan, a mother of six who was jogging near her home in the town of Tal Menashe.

Manny Oliveras, like his Israeli fellow-victims, will spend a lifetime trying to recover from the attack. One cannot even begin to imagine what it will mean to undergo the countless surgeries, the hundreds of hours of rehabilitation, the wounds that will never fully heal.

There are, of course, a number of differences between Worcester’s brick-throwers and Palestinian Arab brick-throwers. Perhaps the most significant is how the two societies regard such crimes.

In the United States, someone who throws a brick at a motorist is regarded by everyone as a despicable criminal. The justice system will ensure that the assailant is brought to trial and punished.

Not so in the territories ruled by the Palestinian Authority. The PA regards Arabs who throw rocks and bricks at Jews as patriots and heroes. The PA security force—one of the largest per-capita security forces in the world—never arrests Arab rock-throwers.

The PA-controlled news media glorifies rock-throwers. The textbooks used in PA schools encourage such behavior. It has reached the point that trying to stone Jews to death is a pastime for Palestinian Arab youngsters just as hopscotch and sandlot baseball are pastimes for American children.

Arab rock-throwers have had so much practice over the years that they have gradually honed their methods so they can inflict as much pain as possible.

For example, sometimes they spill oil across a highway frequented by Israeli motorists and then throw the rocks, so that when a car slows or swerves to avoid the oncoming rocks, it will skid and crash.

Sometimes they throw rocks or bricks from two sides of a vehicle simultaneously, while a comrade hurls black paint at the front windshield, to blind the driver.

They have also figured out that a rock can cause a lot more damage if thrown at an automobile moving at high speed. That’s how they murdered U.S. citizen Asher Palmer and his young son, Yonatan, in 2011. By throwing rocks from a fast-moving car at Palmer's car, which was traveling in the other direction, they doubled the impact. That crushed the front windshield, causing the car to crash and killing both Asher and Yonatan.

Israelis and Americans have a lot in common. Most of it involves things in which we take pride: our shared Judeo-Christian values, our fealty to democracy, our defense of Western civilization against international terrorism. But we are also united, sometimes, in pain and grief.

Stephen M. Flatow is a vice president of the Religious Zionists of America, an attorney in New Jersey 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.”



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