Myth and Reality about the current terror wave in Israel
Oct 15, 2015
Update from AIJAC
October 15, 2015
Number 10/15 #03
This Update contains further analysis of the roots and dynamics of the wave of terror attacks which have been rocking Israel in recent weeks and which saw a major upsurge Tuesday, with three Israelis killed and nine wounded in 4 terror attacks in Jerusalem and the Tel Aviv suburb of Ranaana. This followed a weekend which saw a dozen Israelis wounded in a series of stabbings, along with a suicide car bombing attempt.
A particular focus of this Update is to identify and debunk some of the myths being spread about these attacks.
The first piece comes from Gen. Yaakov Amidror, a former senior IDF officer who also was Israel’s National Security Advisor, but is now in academia. He takes on four myths in all, both from the left and the right, in Israel and internationally. These are: 1. That a bold diplomatic initiative could end “Palestinian despair” and thus the violence; 2. That the Arab states could be prevailed upon to get the Palestinians to stop; 3. That new settlement announcements could deter this violence; 4. That a tougher Israeli military response would solve the problem. For his very knowledgeable explanation of why all these claims are wrong, CLICK HERE.
Next up is Washington Institute expert David Pollack looking at the Palestinian messaging about the current violence – both from the Palestinian Authority and Hamas. He points out that while neither group is directly trying to escalate and the PA is using its security forces to quell Hamas terrorism, both groups openly refuse to repudiate the violence; praise its Palestinian perpetrators; and blame Israel rather than their own people for it. Pollack also has some more analysis about the way incitement about the Temple Mount – both from the PA and Arab media outlets like al-Jazeera – led to the current wave of violence. For his complete analysis of Palestinian messaging, CLICK HERE. More on the Hamas efforts to exploit the recent unrest here.
Finally, American columnist Bret Stephens takes on some of the media tropes which have often shaped reporting of this story. Among them are: this violence is the result of Palestinian despair over occupation, Israel is plotting to allow Jews to pray on the Temple Mount, and there is a “cycle of violence.” He takes on all of these – arguing these attacks must be seen as motivated by psychotic blood-lust, and looks at the incitement that is causing this to occur. For his full argument, CLICK HERE. More on how incitement over the mosque has lead to “hysterical intolerance” from David Horovitz of the Times of Israel, while Israeli diplomat Eitan Naeh uses his own family history to illustrate the extent to which targeting Israeli Jewish civilians simply for being Jewish has long been a major feature of the Arab-Israel conflict.
Readers may also be interested in:
- Gruesome posts and graphics on social media seems to fueling most of the lone wolf stabbing attacks – examples are reported here and here. Israeli expert Eyal Zisser says this is the ISIS terror model coming to Israel.
- Palestinian Affairs expert Avi Issacharoff says much of the violence is coming from residents of a few Jerusalem neighbourhoods – and there is little either Israel or the PA can do about it. More on the difficulty of stopping these uncoordinated attacks comes from David Horovitz.
- A good general comment on the tense and unfortunate general situation at the moment from Shmuel Rosner.
- German academic Petra Marquardt-Bigman looks at the past use of false claims about the al-Aqsa mosque to create violence.
- A terror expert suggests the prevalence of females involved in stabbing attacks is not a coincidence.
- A Jordanian activist and an Israeli-Arab journalist repudiate the stabbing of innocents. But a Gaza cleric brandishes a knife in his sermon and demands Palestinian go forth and stab Jews.
- Isi Leibler writes about the problem of Arab Israelis participating in or encouraging the current wave of terrorist violence and what he believes should be done about it. Earlier, he was the honoured guest at the launch in Israel of a new book about the history of the struggle for Soviet Jewry – in which Leibler played a pioneering and important role.
- Some examples from the many stories and comments now appearing at AIJAC’s daily “Fresh AIR” blog:
- Ari Wenig on what is behind the reality that numerous Palestinian teenagers are being induced to undertake stabbing attacks on Jewish civilians – and often losing their own lives as a result.
- Ahron Shapiro provides video which debunks a claim being made in international media, including the Fairfax papers here, that undercover Israeli “provocateurs” were supposedly caught causing Palestinians demonstrations to turn violent.
- AIJAC analyst Glen Falkenstein on how incitement led to the current violence on ABC “Religion and Ethics.”
- AIJAC’s Colin Rubenstein in the Canberra Times discusses how the violence appears to be the result of the repudiation of peace negotiations by the Palestinian Authority.
Israel Hayom, 13/10/15
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By David Pollock
October 14, 2015
Having stoked tensions in Jerusalem, Mahmoud Abbas and his government now find it hard to reassert their authority.
As two weeks of stabbings and violent demonstrations in and around Jerusalem continue, along with sporadic mass breaches of the Gaza border, official Palestinian statements and media commentary are sending a dual message. Generally speaking, neither Palestinian Authority (PA) nor Hamas messages call for more violence in their own territory — although Hamas does call for more murder of Jews in Jerusalem. But neither Palestinian government repudiates the violence; both praise its Palestinian perpetrators; and both blame Israel rather than their own people for it.
BACKGROUND: TEMPLE MOUNT TENSIONS
Leading up to this crisis, PA accusations against Israel had turned increasingly shrill. This campaign built upon the widespread but false Palestinian perception that Israel was trying to stake new claims to al-Haram al-Sharif (the Temple Mount) and its al-Aqsa Mosque, sacred to Muslims — and that Jews have no history or rights in that area. Sadly, repeated disavowals by Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu and others of an extremist Jewish fringe’s provocations did not offset incitement by the fundamentalist Israeli Arab “Northern Branch” movement or other radical Islamist groups — or by the PA itself.
During the Jewish holiday season in mid-September, in the wake of demonstrations and Israeli police action at the al-Aqsa Mosque, PA president Mahmoud Abbas personally and publicly denounced the “filthy feet” of Jews trampling there, while praising “every drop of blood shed…for the sake of Allah.” This outburst elicited a highly unusual private admonition against such incitement, according to Israeli press accounts, from UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon.
Nevertheless, Abbas did not recant, and went on to repeat such inflammatory and misleading accusations against Israeli policy toward the Temple Mount in his UN General Assembly address a week later. Shortly thereafter, on several occasions when Israelis were shot or stabbed to death by terrorists in the West Bank and Jerusalem, Abbas did not repudiate those actions — as he sometimes had in the past. His silence was especially noteworthy because a Fatah faction had publicly taken responsibility for two of these most recent killings. Instead, the PA officially called for the UN and the international community to “protect” Palestinians against Israeli “escalation.”
PALESTINIAN STATEMENTS VS. ACTIONS
Early statements by Palestinian officials blamed Israel for escalating the crisis — although privately these officials were reportedly trying to rein in the potential for larger-scale disorder. And some Palestinians privately pointed out that most of the violence was taking place not in the West Bank but inside Israel, especially in Jerusalem or on the border with Gaza — where PA officials and security agents had no access or control. Behind the scenes, according to Israeli officials and experts, PA security continued to coordinate with Israel against Hamas terrorism — going so far, according to Hamas, as to deliver the five-member underground Hamas cell in the Nablus/Jenin area responsible for shooting two Israeli settlers to death.
By the second week of October, a familiar pattern of mixed messaging had reemerged, but in a higher key. Abbas reiterated, to his own domestic audience in Arabic, that he opposed violence and wanted only “peaceful, popular resistance.” To Israelis, he said, “We want peace and our hands will continue to be extended in peace, despite all our suffering at your hands.” In the same breath, however, he urged Palestinians to “defend” themselves and “protect” al-Aqsa, and warned Israel to “stay away from our Islamic and Christian holy places.”
Moreover, even Hamas statements seem designed to preempt drastic escalation and Israeli retaliation in Gaza. Early on, Mousa Abu Marzouk, a deputy to Hamas leader Khaled Mashal, announced that Hamas would refrain from rocketfire into Israel, so as not to “distract” from the struggle in Jerusalem and the West Bank. And last week, Hamas declared that its side of the border with Israel would henceforth be a closed military zone — presumably so that it could better control incursions or other incidents. Rival PA — and some other Arab — media hinted darkly that this exposed the real Hamas policy toward Israel: a “truce under the table,” as the PA official daily wrote on October 13.
At lower levels, every day in early October, the PA official newspaper still labeled Palestinian terrorists killed in action as “martyrs”; termed stabbing and other Palestinian attacks as “operations”; and reported in detail about social media approval for the murder of settlers. It published op-eds with sentences like the following: “My daughter made me happy when she said, ‘I want to carry out a martyrdom operation and kill some Israeli soldiers.'” The official daily refrained, however, from openly endorsing such behavior.
But Fatah media, and sometimes official PA television, featured statements by senior party officials — including Mahmoud al-Aloul and Sultan Abu al-Einein — and others explicitly praising violence against Israeli civilians, such as by calling settlers “legitimate targets.” On October 8, the PA cabinet issued a statement that did not mention Palestinian violence but accused Israel of acting “to kill and assassinate defenseless children and civilians…summary executions and cold-blooded murder.” In the past few days, senior PA officials, including Saeb Erekat and Nabil Abu Rudeineh, have repeated and elaborated on these charges. Abbas himself is reiterating this canard in his “important speech to the nation” as this essay goes to press.
A perfect instance of mixed messaging came from an unexpected source. On October 11, in an open letter written from jail and published in Britain’s Guardian newspaper, leading Fatah figure Marwan Barghouti endorsed the right of “unarmed” Palestinians to “resist the occupation” and denounced “Israeli attacks against the Palestinians in the city [Jerusalem] and in Muslim and Christian holy sites.” Elsewhere in the piece, he also wrote, albeit without explicitly affirming support for a lasting two-state solution, that this was still “a solvable political conflict” and that “the last day of occupation will be the first day of peace.” But that message could be found only in English, not in any major Arabic publication.
The differences in these messages are being amplified in the pan-Arab newspapers and satellite television channels — which surveys show Palestinians watch and read at least as much as they do their own local media. For example, Saudi-owned Al-Arabiya TV or al-Sharq al-Awsat and al-Hayat newspapers are playing down the latest Israeli-Palestinian violence, with at most one such lead story each day. In sharp contrast, Qatar-owned Al Jazeera TV or al-Quds al-Arabi newspaper are playing up the new “intifada,” featuring three or four lead stories about it each day, plus inflammatory “analysis” about PA and even Hamas “cowardice” or “treason” in not expanding the violence. So far, the Arab League, in a Cairo statement on October 13, has toed the PA line about “Israeli provocations against al-Aqsa” and “international protection for the Palestinians,” rather than the Hamas line calling for greater “armed resistance” activities in Jerusalem and the West Bank.
Back in Ramallah on October 11, according to one Israeli press report, Abbas met with militant Fatah leaders from the Tanzim faction, and asked them to cease incitement. By this time, however, some analysts were speculating about just how much — or how little — difference Abbas could make in this volatile climate, given his declining popularity and internal political authority. Indeed, as Palestinian pollster Khalil Shikaki pointed out, two-thirds of the Palestinian public in the West Bank and Gaza now wanted Abbas to resign.
Without a clear successor, and with Hamas and other radicals seeking to supplant the PA president, the prospects are very dim for Palestinian messages of peace or reconciliation, either in the current or in a post-Abbas scenario. And the prevalence of inflammatory social media messages could well drown out whatever messages Abbas attempts to convey. In this fraught climate, any official call for nonviolence would require real action if it is to be effective.
The truth about why Palestinians have been seized by their present blood lust.
By BRET STEPHENS
Wall Street Journal, Oct. 12, 2015
If youve been following the news from Israel, you might have the impression that violence is killing a lot of people. As in this headline: Palestinian Killed As Violence Continues. Or this first paragraph: Violence and bloodshed radiating outward from flash points in Jerusalem and the West Bank appear to be shifting gears and expanding, with Gaza increasingly drawn in.
Read further, and you might also get a sense of who, according to Western media, is perpetrating violence. As in: Two Palestinian Teenagers Shot by Israeli Police, according to one headline. Or: Israeli Retaliatory Strike in Gaza Kills Woman and Child, Palestinians Say, according to another.
Such was the medias way of describing two weeks of Palestinian assaults that began when Hamas killed a Jewish couple as they were driving with their four children in the northern West Bank. Two days later, a Palestinian teenager stabbed two Israelis to death in Jerusalems Old City, and also slashed a woman and a 2-year-old boy. Hours later, another knife-wielding Palestinian was shot and killed by Israeli police after he slashed a 15-year-old Israeli boy in the chest and back.
Other Palestinian attacks include the stabbing of two elderly Israeli men and an assault with a vegetable peeler on a 14-year-old. On Sunday, an Arab-Israeli man ran over a 19-year-old female soldier at a bus stop, then got out of his car, stabbed her, and attacked two men and a 14-year-old girl. Several attacks have been carried out by women, including a failed suicide bombing.
Regarding the causes of this Palestinian blood fetish, Western news organizations have resorted to familiar tropes. Palestinians have despaired at the results of the peace processnever mind that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas just declared the Oslo Accords null and void. Israeli politicians want to allow Jews to pray atop the Temple Mountnever mind that Benjamin Netanyahu denies it and has barred Israeli politicians from visiting the site. Theres always the hoary cycle of violence formula that holds nobody and everybody accountable at one and the same time.
Left out of most of these stories is some sense of what Palestinian leaders have to say. As in these nuggets from a speech Mr. Abbas gave last month: Al Aqsa Mosque is ours. They [Jews] have no right to defile it with their filthy feet. And: We bless every drop of blood spilled for Jerusalem, which is clean and pure blood, blood spilled for Allah.
Then there is the goading of the Muslim clergy. Brothers, this is why we recall today what Allah did to the Jews, one Gaza imam said Friday in a recorded address, translated by the invaluable Middle East Media Research Institute, or Memri. Today, we realize why the Jews build walls. They do not do this to stop missiles but to prevent the slitting of their throats.
Then, brandishing a six-inch knife, he added: My brother in the West Bank: Stab!
Imagine if a white minister in, say, South Carolina preached this way about African-Americans, knife and all: Would the news media be supine in reporting it? Would we get both sides journalism of the kind that is pro forma when it comes to Israelis and Palestinians, with lengthy pieces explainingand implicitly justifyingthe ministers sundry grievances, his sense that his country has been stolen from him?
And would this be supplemented by the usual fake math of moral opprobrium, which is the stock-in-trade of reporters covering the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? In the Middle East version, a higher Palestinian death toll suggests greater Israeli culpability. (Perhaps Israeli paramedics should stop treating stabbing victims to help even the score.) In a U.S. version, should the higher incidence of black-on-white crime be cited to balance stories about white supremacists?
Didnt think so.
Treatises have been written about the medias mind-set when it comes to telling the story of Israel. Well leave that aside for now. The significant question is why so many Palestinians have been seized by their present blood lustby a communal psychosis in which plunging knives into the necks of Jewish women, children, soldiers and civilians is seen as a religious and patriotic duty, a moral fulfillment. Despair at the state of the peace process, or the economy? Please. Its time to stop furnishing Palestinians with the excuses they barely bother making for themselves.
Above all, its time to give hatred its due. We understand its explanatory power when it comes to American slavery, or the Holocaust. We understand it especially when it is the hatred of the powerful against the weak. Yet we fail to see it when the hatred disturbs comforting fictions about all people being basically good, or wanting the same things for their children, or being capable of empathy.
Today in Israel, Palestinians are in the midst of a campaign to knife Jews to death, one at a time. This is psychotic. It is evil. To call it anything less is to serve as an apologist, and an accomplice.