Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council

After the kidnappings and murder

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Update from AIJAC

July 3, 2014
Number 07/14 #02

Today’s Update looks at developments since the burial of Israeli teens Eyal Yifrach, Gil-ad Shaar, and Naftali Fraenkel, amid conflicting reports that Muhammed Abu Khudair, a 16-year-old Palestinian from east Jerusalem might have been murdered in an act of revenge (although other reports suggest criminal, not racist, motives). The murder has been roundly condemned overseas and in Israel, including by PM Benjamin Netanyahu. AIJAC’s statement of condemnation can be seen here. In Jerusalem, 1,000 people demonstrated against anti-Arab incitement, while hundreds of right-wing Jews and Arabs have rioted in Jerusalem. 

Debate has raged in Israel and overseas on what the deaths signify about the current state of Israeli-Palestinian relations, on claims that there is a cycle of violence, and what might follow in the short term. Major-General (Res) Giora Eiland suggests that the tension may die down, as neither Israel nor Hamas (because of its current political weakness) desire a major confrontation. He adds that if, however, a major flare up does ensue, Israel should have a goal in mind, and that goal should be the destruction of Hamas’ rocket arsenal. Elsewhere, Avi Issacharoff looks at Israel’s options in the wake of the murders, and argues that a major confrontation is in neither Israel’s or Hamas’ interests.

First up, Israeli analyst Ben-Dror Yemini argues that the kidnapping “wasn't an attack against the occupation; it was an attack against the calm.” He says that the media downplays the improvement in freedom of movement for Palestinians on the West Bank in favour of sensationalist attempts to convey a false picture of tension which plays into the hands of Hamas and its anti-Israel and anti-Palestinian Authority goals. To read this, CLICK HERE.

Next, Bar-Ilan University Professor Gerald Steinberg, president of NGO Monitor, tackles the allegation promoted by some in the West that Israel and the Palestinians are involved in a 'cycle of violence'. According to Steinberg, this is a false paradigm that ignores the incitement that “fills Palestinian books and media…falsely portrayed as paralleled in Israel” with Palestinian terror motivated by a refusal to accept “Jewish self-determination, regardless of borders.” To read this, CLICK HERE.

Finally, Rafael Bardají, senior adviser for international security to former Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar, looks at the kidnappings in a global context, including in Europe, where “people are in fear - a lot of fear - of being seen as pro-Israel and pro-Jewish.” To read this, CLICK HERE.

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Teens' murder was an attack against the calm

Ben-Dror Yemini
Ynetnews, July 2 2014

A day before the abduction, I took a peaceful tour of the Gush Etzion area, on the way to Hebron, including villages in Area A to which "entry is forbidden." During part of the tour, together with an American journalist, we were accompanied by a senior officer.

If anyone dreams of coexistence, it was presented there in all its glory. In the Rami Levy supermarket, near the intersection, Arabs and Jews, worked together. The Arabs, who live in the area, were in management positions as well.

Just several minutes away from there, Arabs sat together with Jews at the cafeteria. It wasn't a false display. It was a display of harmony.
 
I know, the region's senior commander told us, that this is a completely fragile state of calm. I know that there are those who want to inflame the situation. I know that this calm drives some people mad. They want fire. I know that by easing so many restrictions, including the removal of checkpoints, we are also taking a risk. But it's a calculated risk. The alternative, he added, is much worse.
 
Although the tragic kidnapping took place the next day, the officer's words are true. It wasn't an attack against the occupation; it was an attack against the calm. The media presented mainly the Palestinians who support the kidnapping. They stand out in such situations. This is the hour of haters. This is the hours of rocket launchers. This is the hour of belligerent people.
 
The past five years have not been characterized by complete calm. There is no such thing. But the amount of incidents was at a decline. Most of the Palestinians enjoyed the calm. Most of the Palestinians did not participate in the abduction. The Palestinian Authority itself maintained security. Not for Israel; for the Palestinians.
 
The Israeli rule is far from ideal. But it is far, far away from the false claims made by Israel's haters. So the attack was also against the PA, also against Israel and mainly against the calm.
 
Hamas and the rest of the jihad organizations are not much different from their twin organizations in Somalia, Afghanistan, Syria and Iraq. They are first and foremost the Muslims' enemies. Ninety-nine percent of the jihad organizations' victims in the past five years are Muslims. If Israel were not around, Hamas would do to the West Bank what Mahmoud Abbas' PA has proven itself. We must not forget that. So there is a need for punishment, but not collective punishment. And there is definitely no need for revenge.
 
Those who carried out the attack wanted to act not just against Israel. They wanted to act against the calm as well, against the cooperation, against the PA. They sought to inflame the situation. There is no need to give them what they want.

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There is no ‘cycle of violence’

Gerald M. Steinberg
The Times of Israel
July 1, 2014

Three Israeli teenagers, Naftali Fraenkel, Gil-ad Shaar and Eyal Yifrach, were kidnapped and murdered in cold blood on their way home from school only because they were Israeli Jews. Their Palestinian Arab murderers, as identified by Israel, did not know their victims and they did not care. The objective was to attack some hated Israelis, and perhaps exchange them or their bodies for jailed murderers. Any random Jews would do.

So it has been for some 100 years in this long war against Jewish national sovereignty and equality among the nations. Long before the 1967 war and the “occupation” provided an excuse for hate and murder, such acts of inhuman violence were common. In 1929, when the Jewish community of Hebron was massacred (ethnically cleansed in modern parlance), there was no cycle of violence — this was an entirely unilateral act.

In November 1947, when all Arab leaders rejected the minimalist UN Partition Plan and launched a wave of mass terror against the Jewish community, there was no cycle. And the 1967 war, which led to the subsequent “occupation,” was triggered by Nasser’s renewed effort to destroy the Jewish state, and not part of an action-reaction cycle.

Similarly, today, there is no “cycle of revenge,” as many journalists, diplomats and self-proclaimed human rights activists often claim. A cycle means symmetry, automatic tit-for-tat, mindless action and reaction, in which all sides, and none, can be held morally responsible.

But attack and defense, terror and counter-terror, incitement and fear are not symmetric or morally equivalent. When diplomats and academics repeat the “cycle” analogy, and meekly issues calls “to both parties to exercise restraint,” as the European Union, the UN and even the US did after the kidnapping, they are endorsing a dangerous fiction. When journalists invent an artificial balance and an immoral equivalence between attacker and victim, or an NGO with European and US taxpayer funds equates the mother of a Palestinian terrorist with the mothers of Gilad, Naftali, and Eyal, this is fundamentally immoral.

For years, Palestinians and their supporters have been able to peddle the fiction that murderous terrorists in Israeli jails are political prisoners, guilty only of participating in the “cycle of violence,” including opposing the “occupation,” albeit with violent means. European human rights funds have also channeled government money to lobbying groups (non-governmental organizations) to promote this fiction and the public campaigns on their behalf.

A small but highly vocal group of Israelis have adopted the false “cycle of violence” slogan, reinforcing the beliefs of outsiders, and are sought after to validate these myths. In this imagined world, symmetry provides false hope; the deep conflict and war against Jewish self-determination, regardless of borders, is replaced by a simple mirror-image — “they” are not filled with hatred, incitement, and violence.

Instead, like us, Palestinians are portrayed as unwillingly locked into a vicious tit-for-tat loop. The incitement that fills Palestinian books and media is falsely portrayed as paralleled in Israel. And thus, all that is needed is to break this unrighteous cycle, and to recognize the narrative and fears of “the other.” This imagined symmetry is the basis for peace, or so they have convinced themselves.

The sad reality, as we have tragically learned once again, is that the differences between the Palestinian and the Israeli societies, as well as the contrasting basic goals and aspirations, are fundamental. Attempts to erase these differences by repeating simplistic mantras based on invented “cycles of revenge” are tragically misleading, and worse. They are brutally immoral.

A delegation of American Jews was expelled last week from the African Union Summit, to which it had been invited. This happened because the delegates from Egypt, Iran and South Africa could not stand seeing the American Jews wearing the traditional Jewish skullcap. Did any of our leaders, including the president of the Spanish government, make the slightest venture of disgust or disapproval? No.

Never has any country had to fight its enemies simultaneously on so many fronts. The Jewish people have the right to live in peace everywhere and Israel has the right to self-defense to achieve peace.

First, sincerest condolences to the families of the three Israeli teenagers brutally kidnapped and killed by Palestinian terrorists in the West Bank on June 12, and whose lifeless bodies were found Monday near Hebron. Naftali Frankel, Gilad Shaar and Eyal Yifrach were killed for being three Jewish boys in a land where the enemies of Israel only aspire to generate terror, where they only dream of destroying the Jewish state by force. In the enemies' twisted minds, killing Jews is a way to finish, if only a little, the State of Israel.

Israel knows all too well what suffering is all about. The anti-Jewish pogroms began almost a hundred years ago, well before the State of Israel was established, and before settlements, so hotly debated today, had begun to develop. If Jewish communities in Haifa or Hebron were under the threat of extinction in 1929, or in 1936 through 1939, it was because the Arabs have never accepted what the Bible and history teaches us: The Jewish people have roots in Palestine since time immemorial -- thousands of years before Yasser Arafat invented the term "Palestinian people" in 1967. It is the same reason that the Arabs would not accept the 1947 UN partition plan to have two states, one for Arabs and the other for the Jewish people – precisely because one of them was for the Jewish people. And it is the same reason that they have suffered so many wars, intifadas, terror attacks, immoral delegitimization campaigns against Israel's right to exist and repeated Iranian threats to "wipe Israel off the map."

Unfortunately these three new murders have taken place in an increasingly problematic context for Israel and many Jewish communities in the world. Israel is an island of freedom and prosperity in an increasingly menacing and turbulent region. ISIS black flags are present at Gaza funerals; the Syrian war is destabilizing Lebanon, Jordan, and Iraq; Fatah and Hamas have formed a new Palestinian coalition government, and there is no firm or coherent world reaction against a Palestinian Authority that has allied with terrorism. Further, the agreement with Iran that President Obama is cooking up does not guarantee that Tehran will renounce its current capability to make a nuclear bomb.

At the same time, disinformation campaigns by Palestinians, hatred from a Left that does not understand Israel's religious significance and identity, and the traditional anti-Semitism of a reactionary Right have combined to fuel legal warfare against Israel in the form of complaints from individuals accusing IDF officers of crimes against humanity in a distorted abuse of so-called "universal jurisdiction". Economic warfare is also being waged in the form of cultural and economic boycotts, and lobbying so that scholars, artists and business leaders do not set foot in Israel. Never has any country had to fight its enemies simultaneously on so many fronts.

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Israel Faces Death Once More

Rafael L. Bardají
Gatestone Institute, July 2, 2014

Outside of Israel, the kidnapping of the three teenagers has gone practically unnoticed. Many will say that there was other, more relevant, news, such as Iraq's collapse. However, I am convinced that it is just another excuse. To insult, intimidate, attack, and even to kill Jews has again become commonplace today. It is rarely denounced. For example, Belgian authorities tried to deny that the attack against the Jewish Museum in Brussels was an anti-Semitic terrorist attack.

The silence of the lambs is the product of fear. And in Europe, people are in fear -- a lot of fear -- of being seen as pro-Israel and pro-Jewish. A delegation of American Jews, for instance, was expelled last week from the African Union Summit, to which it had been invited. This happened because the delegates of Egypt, Iran and South Africa could not stand seeing the American Jews wearing the traditional Jewish kippah [skullcap]. Did any of our leaders, including the president of the Spanish government, make the slightest gesture of disgust or disapproval? No. There are too many interests in play, too many fears of being singled out by Arab countries, losing access to Arab markets, oil and gas; of becoming a target of Islamic and Palestinian terrorism.

Killing Jews should not go unnoticed or unpunished. And it is not something that can be left solely in the hands of Israeli authorities. The bodies found in Hebron have also been found in Brussels and France.

Today there is a new swastika, nested in both a far-Right fear grounded in the past, and an irrational far-Left fear fueled by atheists, pacifists and multiculturalists, and exploited by Palestinians, Muslim Brotherhood members, salafists and jihadists in Europe and everywhere – and that includes many American universities.

This is why the brutal and unjustifiable murder of three youths, whose mistake was to hitchhike back home, should not leave us indifferent. The Jewish people have every right to live in peace everywhere, and Israel has the right to self-defense to achieve peace. Seventy years ago, the world allowed the horror of the Nazi Holocaust. It is our moral obligation never to allow it to happen again. Our own interests should lead us to defend Israel against barbarity.

May the boys rest in peace and let us keep them in our hearts, our minds, and souls.

Rafael Bardají is Senior Adviser for international security to former Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar. He served in Spain's government as National Security Advisor from 1996-2004. Mr. Bardají is the Director of Foreign Policy at FAES, a think tank in Madrid, and the Executive Director of Friends of Israel Initiative.

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