While Israelis and Jews around the world were mourning Sunday’s deadly terror attack in the Israeli capital, some Jerusalem Arabs celebrated the murders – including a very public display of rejoicing in a café next to the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.
Alon Karko, a 24-year old law student at Hebrew University, was dining with his mother at Café Aroma on Mount Scopus, next to one of the university’s two main campuses, when news broke that two of the shooting victims in Sunday’s attack had succumbed to their injuries.
“I had something to take care of in the university,” said Karko, “and afterwards I went to the café. Obviously the atmosphere was very tense,” added Karko. Mount Scopus is just several minutes’ drive from the site of the attack.
Karko noted that all of the workers in the café were Arabs, as were nearly all of the diners, save for himself, his mother, and a group of Korean tourists.
At a certain point, Karko recounted, two Arabs made their way over from the nearby Hadassah Hospital – the same hospital where the most critically injured of the shooting attack victims were being treated – and offered their ‘congratulations’ to the Arabs siting in the café.
“It took a second for it to dawn on me what was happening – all of the sudden I saw the news flash saying ‘Two of the wounded declared dead’. Then I put two and two together and understood that, okay, this [their celebrating] is because of this [the deaths], and there was no question any longer why they were laughing together in Arabic.”
“My grasp of Arabic isn’t great,” continued Karko, “but my mother said that she heard [their conversation]. I did hear ‘Allahu Ackbar’ and all of that, both from the group [cheering] out in the street and those sitting in the café expressing their satisfaction.”
“Then they started to sing and clap,” Karko recalled. “You could see the joy on their faces, really.” The celebrations continued for some time, he said, making an already tense atmosphere unbearable.
“I didn’t feel comfortable, so I finished my drink and left. It was not the most pleasant feeling because you’re sitting in a café that’s in an area considered to be part of Israel and yet there are celebrations there over the deaths of an [Israeli] cop and elderly woman right in front of your eyes, and you’re helpless.”
No one among the Arabs present attempted to reprimand those celebrating, Karko noted.
“There will always be nuts and crazies who will take out a knife and stab. But when they get support from a whole sector…and I didn’t see any one of them try to stop this. No one in the group thought to even let the dead bodies get cold before they escalated to shouting and screaming.”