The horror that engulfed the entire nation in the wake of the barbaric murder of Jews engaged in prayer in a Jerusalem synagogue remains palpable.
Although there have been other devastating acts of terror against innocent civilians, this time it was clearly religiously motivated. It was undoubtedly inspired by the incitement and despicable lies repeatedly broadcast by our purported peace partner, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who created frenzy among Muslims by alleging that Israelis would “contaminate” the Temple Mount by praying there and then invade and destroy Al Aqsa mosque. Such outbursts are reminiscent of the Arab riots in the 1930s.
Abbas also sent his condolences to the family of a terrorist slain while attempting to murder a Jew the previous week, hailing him as a “martyr” who “rose to heaven while defending our people’s rights and holy places.” This was followed by false allegations that Israelis had murdered a Jerusalem Arab bus driver, even though a Palestinian coroner confirmed that it was a suicide. To top it off, the day following King Abdullah’s meeting with Prime Minister Netanyahu in Jordan in order to ease tensions, Abbas called on his people to launch “a day of rage” against Israelis.
This latest escalation of incitement is yet another extension of the traditional hatred against Jews inculcated among the Arabs but which accelerated after the Oslo accords. Yasser Arafat and then Abbas have effectively brainwashed generations of Arabs — from kindergarten age — into fanatically hating Jews and sanctifying as “martyrs” those willing to sacrifice their lives and gain paradise by killing them.
The Palestinians have, in fact, been molded into a criminal society adopting a culture of death comparable only to the Nazis who, once in power, also brainwashed Germans into committing barbaric crimes. And those, including Jews, who morally equate this monstrous society with Israel because the Jewish state like any country also includes deviants and degenerates, are making obscene analogies.
Every level of Israeli society, from the leadership to the media and down to the man in the street, reacts with shock, horror, disgust and condemnation against our deviants. Contrast this to the public display, not merely in Gaza but also in Ramallah, Bethlehem and Nablus, as Palestinians celebrated the most recent horror their “martyrs” had inflicted on Jews praying in a synagogue.
It is noteworthy that our “peace partner” Abbas had to be cajoled twice by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (who subsequently thanked him profusely) for condemning this latest act of terror. Yet even when he did, he had the chutzpah to blame Israel for inciting Muslims by repeating his lies that Israel is attacking Al Aqsa mosque. His Fatah spokesmen immediately stressed that he was forced to make the statement for “diplomatic” reasons.
Furthermore, Sultan Abu Al-Einein, his senior adviser and member of the Fatah Central Committee, praised those who carried out the synagogue massacre, stating, “Blessed be your quality weapons, the wheels of your cars, your axes and kitchen knives because [they are being used] according to Allah’s will. We are the soldiers of Allah.”
These murders, some of which were committed by Arab Israelis who worked and interfaced with Israelis, have had a devastating impact on good relationships between Israeli Jews and Arabs. Understandably many Jews now feel uncomfortable and suspicious of their Arab neighbors.
The majority of Israeli Arabs are law-abiding and wish to live in peace with us but major efforts are required to convince Jews to regain their trust in those Arabs living and working among them. This will require more than government and media appeals calling for tolerance. Much will depend on whether there are moderate responsible Arabs willing to speak out, condemn the terrorists and take active steps to effectively excommunicate the minority of fanatics in their midst — including their Knesset representatives who currently openly identify with the terrorists and praise their vile acts.
The outrageous public celebrations by the Arab residents of the east Jerusalem neighborhood of Jabel Mukaber are an example of what must no longer be tolerated. This village was an incubator of dozens of terrorist attacks, including the recent synagogue massacre, the murder of the eight Merkaz Harav students in 2008 and many others. The family of the murderers publicly proclaimed: “We are proud of what they did. … They are heroic martyrs.” Paradoxically, the village pleaded with the High Court to remain on the Israeli side of the separation barrier.
We must adopt tough measures if we are to avoid a breakdown between Israeli Jews and the Arab minority. The first step must be for the government to reinforce security, including in Arab areas that had until now been unsupervised. This is an awesome challenge and requires punitive measures for those engaged in anti-state or antisocial activities such as stone throwing, destruction of private property and incitement against the state. The homes of the terrorists’ families should be destroyed and the residence status of convicted terrorists and their families revoked, as this will serve as a major deterrent even to those willing to die in order to kill Jews. Should the international community condemn this as an infraction of human rights or the U.S. again complain that such steps “harm the interests of peace,” we should remind them that it is our lives that are at stake and that they should not interfere.
Beyond that, we should now repudiate the misplaced displays of goodwill we have made over the years in order to placate the international community. These have been counterproductive and only served to camouflage the Palestinians’ criminal society and culture of death.
It is one thing to demonstrate our high moral standards to bleeding hearts abroad by providing the top medical facilities to relatives of Hamas leaders calling for our destruction and applauding barbaric acts. But while Hamas leaders continue to behave in this outrageous manner, we should cease providing electricity and services to Hamastan. The prime minister should state that if those in control of Gaza are going to continue publicly calling on their people to murder us, we will simply terminate all contact.
The situation with the Palestinian Authority is different, because unlike Hamas, it does not have total authority in the region under its jurisdiction. Abbas remains in office despite the absence of elections since 2006. But he is party to the violation of civil rights among his own people, the rampant corruption and the rabid incitement against Israel. Yet his PA maintains order on the West Bank, not merely in order to retain his “moderate” image with the U.S., but more so to prevent the upheavals that would eventuate if a full intifada broke out, which could enable Hamas to assume control. Thus Abbas directs his terror incitement to Jerusalem and creates religious hysteria about Israelis destroying Al Aqsa mosque.
Abbas has been emboldened and encouraged in the knowledge that U.S. President Barack Obama and his administration will continue to stand by him. The U.S. criticisms against Israel, before, during and after the Gaza war, together with the repeated categorical whitewashing of Abbas and the PA, have paved the way for the current situation.
In contrast to previous occasions, Kerry unequivocally condemned the synagogue massacre, but Obama, appallingly, again felt impelled to employ moral equivalency by bracketing the attack in the context of “innocent” Palestinians who had also been killed.
The time has come to openly confront the international community and above all, Obama, for having mollycoddled Abbas and failing to exert pressure on him to bring an end to this murderous incitement.
The government must initiate a campaign in conjunction with friends of Israel throughout the world, to highlight the criminality of Palestinian society and explain why it would be an act of suicide under the prevailing circumstances to create a new terrorist rogue state.
We should appeal to our friends among the American people and Congress and, if necessary, challenge the president’s moral equivalency and betrayal of a loyal ally. The silent American Jewish establishment must now also speak out. They should take their cue from the Zionist Organization of America, which condemned Obama for linking his condemnation with the deaths of “innocent “ Palestinians, and Rabbi Marvin Hier of the Los Angeles-based Simon Wiesenthal Center, who called on the U.S. and EU to suspend PA funding until such time as they cease their incitement to murder Jews.
It is time for the U.S. and the international community to recognize that Hamas and other Arab extremists are not nationalists but birds of a feather with Islamic State.
We would have greater success conveying this message if our political leaders felt accountable to the public, which overwhelmingly yearns for a unity government during these difficult times. Alas, in our current dysfunctional political system, that is highly unlikely.
We must therefore gird ourselves to confront our adversaries, confident in the knowledge that we can and will defend ourselves and will not allow Jerusalem to be transformed into a Belfast or enable the international community to appease the extremists by offering us as a sacrificial lamb.
Isi Leibler may be contacted at [email protected].