Update from AIJAC
July 1, 2014
Number 07/14 #01
Today’s Update looks at the destructive sub-culture in Palestinian society that legitimises hate for Israel and its people, and results in such all-too-familiar scenarios as the sickening kidnapping and murder of Israeli teenage boys, Eyal Yifrach, Gil-ad Shaar, and Naftali Fraenkel. The trio who went missing 18 days ago, are believed to have been merely trying to hitchhike from the West Bank back to Israel and were abducted and murdered by Hamas members. Their deaths followed months of intense incitement by Hamas for Israelis to be abducted.
The murders have been swiftly condemned by world leaders, including US President Barack Obama, UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon and British Prime Minister David Cameron. A statement from AIJAC can be read here. In a particularly moving statement former British Chief Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks stressed the importance in the Jewish faith and culture to love life and not glorify death. Meanwhile, the Israeli government is weighing up how best to respond.
Unfortunately, the two Palestinian suspects, Marwan Kawasme and Amer Abu Aysha, who live in Hebron, have still not been apprehended. A good summary of the sequence of events Israeli officials believe played out on the night the boys were abducted can be read here, including why they were killed and not ransomed as happened with Gilad Shalit in 2006.
A disturbing trend evident since news of the abduction broke has been the attempt by some media outlets to discredit the link between the kidnapping and Hamas. This of course ignores the very public calls emanating from Hamas for the kidnapping of Israelis in Palestinian media and by its spokesmen. Blogger Elder of Ziyyon has a primer on Hamas’ handbook for how to kidnap and hide Israeli hostages. Meanwhile, Algemeiner is reporting that the ambulance transporting the bodies back to Israel was targetted by Arabs who threw stones and paint at the vehicle.
First up, Jonathan Tobin writes that the world will condemn the murders but assume a posture of moral equivalence between Israeli civilians killed by terrorism and Palestinians who die while carrying out terror attacks – thereby ensuring that Palestinian terror will always be appeased and the conflict perpetuated. To read this, CLICK HERE.
Next, written before the teens’ bodies were found, Jordanian Palestinian writer Mudar Zahran was extremely critical of the West for not treating the Palestinian Authority as a terrorist organisation whose leaders should be arrested. Zahran warns “you cannot be running TV, social media and newspapers encouraging terror and the murdering of Jews and then claim you are innocent when acts of terror happen”. To read this important opinion piece, CLICK HERE.
Finally, also writing before the bodies were discovered, retired British Army officer Colonel Richard Kemp slams the international community, including the European Union, for funding and cosying up to the Palestinian Authority and Hamas’ glorification of terrorists while not demanding they end terror and incitement against Israel. To read this view, CLICK HERE.
Readers may also be interested in:
- At the Wall Street Journal (paywall) Bret Stephens argues that a society that celebrates kidnapping Israelis does not deserve a state.
- Yossi Melman reports on how Israel’s Shin Bet located the bodies.
- Hamas’ core leadership in Gaza has been laying low in anticipation of Israel’s response to the discovery of the bodies and reaching out to regional partners for political backing in case of an Israeli military incursion there.
- Shlomi Eldar looks into the background of the two suspects Israel believes carried out the kidnapping.
- Ron Ben Yishai suggests that Israel crush Hamas, but do it wisely.
- The takeover by Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) of Mosul – Iraq’s second largest city – has resulted in the city’s Christian population fleeing, with the implementation of strict Sharia outlawing even the ringing of church bells.
- John-Michael Kibrick looks at the likely next phases in the ISIS conflict, and suggests Jordan may be under threat.
- Evelyn Gordon on why ISIS’s triumphs in Iraq demonstrate that Israel must maintain a presence in the Jordan Valley.
- Yoram Schweitzer suggests that ISIS is not as dangerous as it has been made out to be.
- Some examples from the many stories and comments now appearing at AIJAC’s daily “Fresh AIR” blog:
June 30, 2014
Now that the bodies of the three kidnapped Israeli teenagers have been found, we can expect the usual chorus of pro forma condemnations of terrorism and sympathy for the victims to be voiced by many world leaders. But the willingness of so many of the same people to treat deliberate attempts to target civilians by the Palestinians as morally equivalent to the fate of those Arabs killed while conducting violence against Israelis gives the lie to their pose of objectivity.
The discovery of the bodies of Eyal Yifrach, Gil-ad Shaar, and Naftali Fraenkel brings an unhappy ending to the effort that transfixed Israelis and Jews around the world but aroused relatively little interest outside of the Jewish community. The Hamas terror group that is believed to be behind the crime will feel the consequences of what appears to be the cold-blooded murders of these three boys shortly after their abduction. Hamas’s partners in the Palestinian Authority will also be put to the test as the Israelis will now see whether PA leader Mahmoud Abbas’s helpful rhetoric condemning the kidnapping will be matched by actions that disassociate his government from terrorists.
But once condolences have been given and the boys buried, the atrocity will probably be shoved down the global memory hole as Palestinians and their cheerleaders contend that the terror attack on the teens must be seen as either an understandable reaction to the “occupation” or morally equivalent to the fate of those Palestinians who die while attacking Israeli forces. The New York Times provided a prime example of such thinking this morning in an article published only hours before the bodies were found.
In this piece by Jerusalem bureau chief Jodi Rudoren, the paper contrasted the grief felt by Naftali Fraenkel’s mother Rachel and that of another mother, Aida Dudeen, whose son Muhammad was killed while confronting Israeli soldiers searching for the boys.
The loss of any life is a tragedy and the sadness of both mothers is genuine. But other than those bare facts, there is no real basis of comparison between these two families. In one case, you have a boy who was targeted by terrorists because he was a Jew and vulnerable and then murdered. In the other, another boy actively chooses to join the ranks of those attempting to obstruct the forces attempting to find the kidnapping victims and attacks them with rocks, seeking to provoke the Israelis into firing to protect their own lives.
The words of the two mothers also belie any moral equivalence. While Fraenkel expressed sympathy for any Palestinians who have been hurt, Aida Dudeen proclaimed her boy to be a “martyr” who “died for his homeland.” Dudeen, who said she tried to prevent her son from joining in the violence, also regards the Jewish presence in the land to be a matter of “colonialism.” Like the Palestinian social media campaign mocking the kidnapped boys, there is a clear sense on the part of the Arabs that any Jew who suffers in the conflict had it coming.
Reduced to the personal human element of mothers and sons, one can argue that one is no different from the other. But so long as the Palestinians cling to the notion that the country can be “liberated,” as Dudeen suggests, from the Jews, nothing will change. Despite the clichés about a cycle of violence in which both sides are stuck, the events that led to the deaths of Fraenkel and Dudeen were not involuntary. They involved the decision on the part of Hamas terrorists to kill Israeli kids and the subsequent decisions of other Palestinians to pour into the streets in an effort to either impede Israeli searchers or to seek out confrontations in which the ranks of Palestinian “martyrs” will be replenished.
The problem here is not merely a misunderstanding between the two sides that can be resolved by a superficial juxtaposition of the two families. The deaths of these two boys stem from a belief on the part of the Palestinians that they have the right to “resist” the Jewish presence with terror as well as the duty to attack those Israelis who sought out the terrorists and their victims.
Israel will be justified in taking drastic actions against Hamas in the coming days, especially in light of the news that, for the first time in years, the Islamist group is firing missiles into southern Israel from Gaza rather than farming out that duty to other Palestinian groups. But the point here isn’t so much the necessity to mete out retaliation for the kidnapping/murders as it is the necessity of the Palestinians to reassess their actions and belief system that set this chain of events in motion.
The tragic ending to the search should also cause those—like the New York Times—who routinely treat the victims of terror as somehow morally equivalent to those who aid and support terror to think again about what it truly means to be evenhanded in one’s thinking about the conflict. By treating these events as an excuse for superficial moralizing rather than an honest evaluation of a toxic Palestinian political culture that glorifies terror, the Western media plays a not insignificant role in perpetuating a conflict that they deplore.
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by Mudar Zahran
June 25, 2014
You cannot be running TV, social media and newspapers encouraging terror and the murdering of Jews and then claim you are innocent when acts of terror happen.
The PA is now officially united with Hamas, a terror organization that pledges to destroy a sovereign nation and establish a Muslim caliphate. Financing the PA is therefore financing terrorism. PA terror has become a major industry. Is this what the West is so breathless to support?
Would the U.S. or Europe agree to give its cities and parts of its soil for a terrorist organization to establish a country the way U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has been pushing Israel to give up most of the West Bank and return to pre-1967 borders?
Can we Palestinians blame Israel when the wall never existed before Hamas and the PLO started launching terror attacks on Israel on a daily basis?
Instead of financing the PA leaders’ lavish lifestyles, the world should start questioning the PA’s institutionalized incitement of terror and hatred to my people which they do every day through media, education and religious institutions. For the sake of both Israel and the Palestinians, it is not Israel but the PA that should be boycotted.
“Most people are mad at those who kidnapped the kids. When they commit such acts, we rejoice, celebrate for Israel’s suffering, then sit down and worry if we will be allowed into Israel for work and medical treatment. This has to stop, for our own sake.” Palestinian businessman
While Israel prays for the safe return of three Israel teenagers kidnapped by terrorists last week, although Palestinian Authority [PA] President Mahmoud Abbas tepidly defended the search for the teens — comments for which many Palestinians attacked him — the official PA daily wrote that “Israel itself is behind the ‘kidnapping’,” alleging that the three boys were soldiers when in fact they were students, two in high school, and the kidnappings were celebrated by people, glorifying the kidnappers and passing out sweets. The Fatah Facebook page then published a cartoon showing the three kidnapped teenagers as rats bearing the star of David with the caption “The Master Stroke”.
Keep in mind that the PA exerts extreme monitoring and control over social media used by Palestinians in the West Bank. A Palestinian man was jailed for six months for “liking” an anti-PA post on Facebook. The PA, therefore, is fully responsible for encouraging the celebrations of the kidnappings over Palestinian social media.
Responses such as these should help the world — which has been trying to force a peace agreement with the PA down Israel’s throat — wake up to the reality that the PA is a terrorist organization that has been inciting acts of violence and radicalism, and should be treated as such. Its leaders should be recognized as terrorists who deserve jail rather than a red carpet treatment in Western capitals.
While some argue that freedom of speech is sacred, it seems the only freedom of speech the PA allows is the one that incites terrorism.
The first thing the world should remember is that the PA is now officially united with Hamas, a terrorist organization that pledges to destroy a sovereign nation, Israel, and establish a Muslim caliphate. Financing the PA now is therefore financing terrorism.
Yet, despite uniting with Hamas, the PA will still apparently be receiving generous financing from the U.S., Canada and Europe.
The UK, with the best of intentions, offers an average of $135 million a year to the PA for development; nonetheless, the Guardian newspaper reported that the money, always fungible, was instead being used by the PA to finance terrorist imprisoned in Israeli jails — thus inadvertently financing more terrorism.
In addition, it is no secret that the PA officials have been stealing hundreds of millions of dollars of the aid money intended to improve the livelihoods of my people, the Palestinians, with no sign that Western aid to the PA ever filters down to the Palestinian public.
Instead of financing the PA leaders’ lavish lifestyles, the world might finally start questioning the PA’s institutionalized incitement of terror and hatred to my people which they relay daily through media, education and the religious institutions.
Ever since the PA came into existence, it has been keen to mass-produce and institutionalize the hatred of Jews and also the West. With their government-controlled TV shows that teach children how to kill Jews, and textbooks that preach hatred for Israel, the PA and Hamas are directly and fully responsible for each and every terror act committed by Palestinians, including the kidnapping of the three teenagers.
Is this what the West is so breathless to support?
Ironically, the PA is claiming no responsibility for the kidnappings, however you cannot be running TV, newspapers and social media encouraging terror and the murdering of Jews and then claim that you are innocent when acts of terror happen.
Another reason for kidnapping the three teenagers, of course, is also the regular prisoner-release agreements forced on Israel. Gilad Shalit was kidnapped and held for five years then released in a prisoner exchange agreement for more than 1,000 terrorist prisoners who were let out of jail. Such deals have been openly encouraged and blessed by the PA leader. In other words, the PA encourages the kidnappings of Israelis to exchange them with terror prisoners.
The world should therefore understand Israel’s position when it recently called off releasing yet more terror prisoners in a deal promoted by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry. These releases just encourage the kidnapping of more Israelis.
As a Palestinian, I do not wish for any of my people to be in jail; nonetheless, I cannot sympathize with those who kill children and innocent civilians. I also know that releasing those prisoners in “swaps” sets a bad example, and even encourages more of my people to commit acts of terror: they see they can be released in a few years in a prisoner exchange brokered by the West.
Would the U.S. or Europe agree to give its cities and parts of its soil to a terrorist organization to establish a country the way Secretary Kerry has been pushing Israel to give up most of the West Bank and return to pre-1967 borders?
Also, if the US or any European country were facing terror attacks from any neighboring country, wouldn’t it seek to build a barrier to protect itself from that country? The U.S. already has a fortified wall along parts of its border with Mexico to stop illegal immigration — an offense not by any means close to any of the terrorist acts that have claimed the lives of thousands of Israeli civilians over the years. Therefore, can the world keep blaming Israel for having a security barrier?
Can we Palestinians blame Israel when the barrier never existed before Hamas and the PLO started launching terror attacks on Israel on a daily basis? Yes, the wall looks sad and ugly and depressing, but if Israel’s neighbors proclaim every day that their sole desire is to displace Israel, what else — apart from surrender — can Israel do?
We Palestinians know that Israel welcomed us with open arms before the PA came and brought terror-preaching with it. And yes, there have always been constant acts of Palestinian terrorism. But PA terror has became a major industry — in which terrorists are pampered, protected, financed, employed, and glorified by the PA — with streets, soccer stadiums and summer camps named after them. And Europe breathlessly joins in.
Israeli measures towards securing the safety of its citizens as well as that of the Palestinians, have been demonized by the world and the so-called Palestinian sympathizers, who choose to ignore the fact that Palestinians’ lives have become harder because of the terrorists and not because of Israel. A Palestinian businessman, for instance, who frequently passes illegally into Israel to buy his products, said: “Most people are mad at those who kidnapped the kids…[because] When they commit such acts, we rejoice, celebrate for Israel’s suffering, then sit down and worry if we will be allowed into Israel for work and medical treatment. To me, such a kidnapping only destroys the livelihood of my four children. This has to stop, for our own sake.”
The Palestinian Authority is a terrorist organization, and its leaders are terrorists who deserve international arrest warrants rather than the red-carpet treatment in Western capitals. The PA has been an inciter of terror; it jeopardizes the safety and livelihoods of Israelis and Palestinians alike.
This tragedy should remind the world that the PA — and organizations like it — is a threat to all of us and should not be rewarded with still more funds for terrorist behavior. For the sake of both Israel and the Palestinians, it is not Israel but the PA that should be boycotted, excluded and even dissolved.
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by Richard Kemp
June 20, 2014
Just the day before the three boys were kidnapped, the EU’s foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton, welcomed Hamas into the Palestinian Authority government while lambasting Israel for detaining terrorists and taking action to prevent Hamas terrorist attacks from Gaza and the West Bank. Ashton, though never slow to condemn Israel, took five days to denounce this kidnapping. Both her words and her actions have legitimized and encouraged Hamas.
Both the U.S. and the EU have paid the salaries of Palestinian terrorists by means of grants to the PA; they also fund this propaganda and incitement.
Like every government, Israel has an absolute duty to protect its citizens, and undermining this terrorist threat is an essential part of that responsibility.
The world has undergone gut-churning revulsion this week at the videos of rows of kneeling young Iraqi men callously gunned down by Al Qaida terrorists in Mosul. But time and again, in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, Hamas has shown itself to be just as capable of such brutal cold-blooded killing. That knowledge has galvanized Israel’s desperate hunt for those who abducted teenagers Naftali Frenkel, Gilad Shaar and Eyal Yifrach as they hitchhiked home from their school in Gush Etzion a week ago.
As a member of Cobra, the UK national crisis management committee, I was involved in British efforts to rescue our citizens kidnapped by Islamist terrorists in Iraq and Afghanistan. No modern-day military action is so fraught: the odds are stacked against the captives, the whip hand is with the captors, it is a race against time, and it becomes extremely personal.
The victims look out at us from their photographs and we look into their eyes. We learn about their hopes, their families, their friends, and their daily lives. Nothing – nothing – stands in the way of our efforts to bring them back. Although we hope for the best, we prepare for the worst.
>From the outside, it is difficult to read the realities of a kidnapping. Those with the responsibility of saving lives are forced into a cat and mouse game in which they must both reassure the public and sow seeds of disinformation among the captors. So far, for Naftali, Gilad and Eyal, the signs are not encouraging. As far as we know a week later, there is no proof of life, no demands, no negotiations.
Yesterday, June 19, the Palestinian Ma’an News Agency apparently reported that Hamas leader Salah Bardawil said that the “Palestinian resistance” (Hamas — the acronym for the “Islamic Resistance Movement”) had carried out the kidnapping.
The first priority is always to establish the identity and the motive of the captors. Early on, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu asserted that Hamas was guilty. U.S. Secretary of State Kerry agreed, and this seems to be the view throughout Gaza and the West Bank.
Hamas leader Mohammad Nazzal, for his part, described the kidnapping of three teenage civilians as “a heroic capture,” and “a milestone” for the Palestinian people. He said that every passing day in which the Israelis failed to find the teenagers was “a tremendous achievement.”
Nazzal’s comments reflect long-standing views on the abduction and butchering of Israelis by the leadership of Hamas, the internationally proscribed terrorist group responsible for firing thousands of lethal rockets indiscriminately against the civilian population of Israel from the Gaza Strip, the latest salvoes only this week.
It is the same terrorist group that the United Nations, the United States and the European Union — in a display of moral bankruptcy and betrayal — have all endorsed as a legitimate partner in a unity government for the Palestinian Authority [PA]. Just the day before the three boys were kidnapped, the EU’s foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton, welcomed Hamas into the PA government while lambasting Israel for detaining terrorists and taking action to prevent Hamas terrorist attacks from Gaza and the West Bank.
Ashton, though never slow to condemn Israel, took five days to denounce this kidnapping. Both her words and actions have legitimized and encouraged Hamas. Her inaction in the face of repeated terrorist assaults has bolstered Hamas’s convictions.
The kidnapping will find favor with Ashton’s new best friends in Iran. Also desperate to appease the ayatollahs, British Foreign Secretary William Hague this week announced the re-opening in Tehran of a British embassy, closed in 2011 after being ransacked on the orders of the Iranian government. There are even reports of U.S. military intelligence-sharing with Iran over the crisis in Iraq – where only a few short years ago, large numbers of American and British soldiers were being slaughtered — using Iranian-supplied munitions by terrorists trained, directed and equipped by Tehran and its terrorist proxy, Lebanese Hizballah.
As Ashton and the West cozy up to the ayatollahs, the ayatollahs are again cozying up to Hamas. A few weeks ago, Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of Hizballah, met with Hamas leaders to resolve the differences between Iran and Hamas that arose over the Syrian conflict. Hamas — isolated from Egypt following the demise of the Muslim Brotherhood regime — seems desperate to restore full relations with the Iranian tyrant. Iran is equally enthusiastic to bring Hamas back into the fold: Hamas remains an important instrument of the ayatollahs’ overriding, stated goal of destroying the State of Israel.
In these circumstances it is certainly not beyond probability that the three boys’ kidnapping was a goodwill gesture from Hamas to the ayatollahs.
It is hard to not be chilled to the bone by the thought of three teenage boys — who might easily be our own sons or brothers — spending night after night in the hands of ruthless terrorists… or worse. The anguish of the boys’ parents must be unimaginable.
Yet among the Palestinian Arab population of the West Bank and Gaza, including children, a new symbol has emerged — the three-fingered salute, signifying joy at the kidnapping of three innocent youths. Among the many deeply disturbing images generated on Palestinian computers and printing presses, the most repugnant is probably a cartoon of three rats, each bearing the Star of David, dangling from a fishing rod, and published on an official Fatah Facebook page.
Such celebration, including the handing out of sweets in the street, has been widespread. PA President Mahmoud Abbas has condemned the kidnappings, and his security apparatus has been providing assistance to the Israeli rescue operation. But as well as bringing Hamas terrorists into his government, Abbas is responsible for the shocking way in which so many of his people have been celebrating. His Palestinian Authority is tireless in spreading fraudulent and malicious anti-Israeli and anti-Semitic propaganda, including Nazi-inspired imagery, in schools, on TV programs and in books and magazines. Both the US and the EU have paid the salaries of Palestinian terrorists by means of grants to the PA; they also fund this propaganda and incitement, no doubt including some of the imagery applauding the boys’ kidnapping.
The Israeli security operation has so far focused on finding the three boys. Over 330 Hamas suspects have been arrested, and illicit weapons and ammunition seized. Echoing the code-name of the rescue operation, “Brother’s Keeper,” the IDF Chief of Staff, Benny Gantz, has encouraged his troops to apply the same vigour to their task as if they were searching for their own brothers or members of their own platoon. He has also reminded them that most people in the areas they are searching are not connected to the kidnapping, and to treat them with care and humanity.
Concurrently, the IDF is taking steps to weaken and dismantle Hamas in the West Bank. In some quarters these have been criticized as an unnecessary and opportunistic widening of the operation. It is nothing of the sort. With this latest kidnapping, Hamas has confirmed its continued intent to abduct, attack and murder Israeli civilians in the West Bank. Like every government, Israel has an absolute duty to protect its citizens, and undermining this terrorist threat is an essential part of that responsibility.
All military operations are unpredictable; it is possible that Operation Brother’s Keeper could lead to an escalation of violence. Incidents have already occurred. It is unlikely that Israel will expand the current operation into Gaza, unless there is a serious upsurge in violence from there or a connection between Gaza terrorists and the kidnapping comes to light.
Whichever way this operation develops, the international community should avoid the same response to the current defensive actions that they have so often displayed whenever Israel has sought to defend itself from missile attacks from Gaza. The international community usually ignores repeated volleys of rockets fired at Israeli civilians, and then condemns Israel for taking defensive action to prevent further attacks. It is these responses from the international community that have encouraged Hamas, and amounted to nothing less than support for terrorism. And it is these responses, along with the endorsement of Hamas’s inclusion in a Palestinian unity government, that have led to the kidnapping of the boys in the West Bank.