Like most Israelis, I am proud that we remain one of the most democratic countries in the world, despite being surrounded by a sea of barbarism and facing continuous threats to our existence by hostile neighbors.
But the nation today is facing a serious threat, not from external adversaries but from elements of Arab-Israeli society that have been incited by their kinsmen in the Palestinian Authority and Hamas to engage in frenzied attacks against their Jewish neighbors. The levels of incitement and calls to become martyrs “for Allah” have reached such a feverish pitch that in addition to rock throwing, impressionable Arab-Israeli youngsters are now engaged in indiscriminate stabbings and acts of mayhem against Jews.
Significantly, the ongoing attacks are not restricted to communities over the Green Line and have occurred in Jerusalem, Jaffa, Petach Tikva, Afula, Kiryat Gat and Raanana. PA anti-Israeli incitement makes no distinction between Israelis living behind or beyond the Green Line.
The demonic level of the incitement is reflected in the spontaneous street parties and public celebrations that erupt whenever an innocent civilian has been murdered. Pictures of murdered Israelis are shared on social media and proud parents of “shaheeds” bless their children for their martyrdom initiatives on official PA-sponsored TV.
A key source of this vicious hysteria emanates from our “peace partner,” Mahmoud Abbas, who denies that a Jewish Temple ever existed in Jerusalem and accuses Israelis of “contaminating” and “defiling” Al-Aqsa mosque with their “filthy feet” as well as plotting to demolish it. Abbas has refused to condemn the attacks, his military factions claim credit for the murders, and the PA media boasts stabbings and murders as heroic acts and a prelude to eliminating Jewish sovereignty in the region. In fact, Abbas himself publicly sanctified the murderers, stating, “We bless you. We welcome every drop of blood spilled in Jerusalem. This is pure blood, clean blood, blood on its way to Allah. With the help of Allah every shaheed will be in heaven and every wounded will get his reward.”
After the stabbing of the 13 year old boy in Pisgat Zeev, the official PA spokesman accused Israelis of executing his assailant – who was hailed as a hero. In a deliberate and successful attempt to incite further terrorism, pictures were posted on PA sponsored media comparing the terrorist to Muhammad Al Dura, the young boy falsely claimed to have been shot by Israeli forces, images of which laid the groundwork for the second intifada.
However, speaking with a forked tongue, Abbas persists in telling the Western media that he seeks peace. Despite threats to the contrary, he has not disbanded the PA security forces – knowing that were he to do so and were the IDF to withdraw, Hamas would immediately take over the region.
With the eruption of this wave of violence and the death of innocent Israeli civilians, the response – or lack thereof – from world leaders is deplorable. The U.S., claiming to be an ally of Israel, was especially disappointing as President Barack Obama arranged that Secretary of State John Kerry and U.N. Ambassador Samantha Power absent themselves when Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addressed the U.N. General Assembly – a calculated insult to Israel. Secretary of State John Kerry declined to apportion blame but attributed Palestinian “frustration” to Israel’s ongoing settlement construction and the White House spokesman expressed condemnation of violence directed against “Israeli and Palestinian civilians,” disgustingly implying a moral equivalence between terrorists and innocent Israeli victims.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon had the chutzpa of calling on Israel to review the “excessive force” he alleged it was employing against terrorists. Likewise, the Quartet “called upon all parties to exercise restraint, refrain from provocative actions and rhetoric, and preserve unchanged the status quo at the holy sites in both word and practice.” The British foreign secretary called for an end to the occupation. His French counterpart announced his intention to pursue a resolution at the next meeting of the U.N. Security Council demanding a freeze on all “settlement” construction, including in Jerusalem and the settlement blocs that even Abbas had initially conceded Israel would retain. All of this obviously encourages the Palestinians to intensify terrorism.
These attacks do not constitute an existential threat to Israel and we have overcome far greater threats of terrorism.
But now we face a dangerous new phenomenon with the emergence of extremist Arab-Israeli elements supporting enemies of the state. In the past, hostile Arab-Israeli proclamations and demonstrations were basically ignored. But that has now changed with the violence and killings by crazed Arab-Israelis aspiring to become martyrs and it has raised profoundly greater tensions within society which can no longer be dismissed.
In light of this, the government and Zionist parties in opposition must temporarily set aside conventional political differences and achieve a consensus on measures required to stem the new threat of mushrooming Arab-Israeli terrorism.
In this context, restrictions and compromises relating to unfettered freedom of speech and activity will be required to prevent incitement and enable Israeli citizens to live in security.
To achieve this rationally and to minimize the inevitable hysterical attacks from the international community and anti-Israeli agencies such as the United Nations, a broad consensus of the Knesset must be achieved to demonstrate that this reflects a national determination to live in security and cannot be construed as a right-wing scheme.
Ideally, this should be achieved with a national unity government. But if political leaders refuse to act in the national interest, the government would be well advised to consider creating a subcommittee comprising representatives from across the Zionist political spectrum to consensually determine security policies. There is no doubt that the vast majority of Israelis would welcome such a situation.
This must include legislation banning incitement, with harsh penalties for any Israelis who endorse or engage in such acts. The major Arab centers in East Jerusalem and Arab towns in the Galil such as Umm al-Fahm have virtually been ignored by law enforcement authorities, who in many cases were instructed not to enter these areas. This has encouraged the festering of anti-Israeli agitation and terror. Now is the time for authorities to take action in these areas – including lockdowns, if necessary – to ensure that Israeli law is enforced and that incitement against the state or Jewish citizens is proscribed.
Steps must be taken to curb the incitement and hysteria fanned by elements of the Arab-Israeli political party, the Joint Arab List. The behavior of some, endorsing the disgusting calls by Abbas to save Al-Aqsa from defilement by Jewish infidels or the calls by MK Hanin Zoabi for Arab masses to engage in a new intifada, unquestionably amount to treason.
Arab-Israeli organizations that engage in agitation, such as the extremist Northern Branch of the Islamic Movement, should have been proscribed a long time ago. Demonstrations that either incite or employ placards or flags supporting Israel’s enemies should be outlawed.
Further drastic steps must be implemented to deter “martyrs.” Destroying the family homes of perpetrators is only one step. Under specified circumstances, national insurance and other state privileges should be suspended or canceled. Arab-Israelis who find this unacceptable and identify with seeking our destruction can freely relocate themselves to Palestinian-populated areas over the Green Line. This, of course, would be in conformity with a commitment to separation and the ultimate creation of a demilitarized peaceful Palestinian state.
This may appear draconian to the international community, which fails to comprehend the fanatical Islamic culture of death and hatred perpetuated by the PA and Hamas. But the vast majority of the Jewish Israeli public would endorse such measures, which would enable them to live peacefully within Israel without facing attacks from inflamed Arab-Israelis brainwashed into killing machines by extremist mullahs and pathological anti-Semites.
There is little doubt that any Western democracy facing similar threats from an extremist minority in its own society would take similar action. Indeed, both the British and Australian governments are now considering legislation to withdraw citizenship from those convicted of engaging in terrorism. Besides, even after enacting such restrictions, Israel would still remain one of the most buoyant democracies in the world.
Of course, it would be incumbent on us to assure peace-loving Arabs in our midst that they are entitled to all the privileges and rights of any Israeli citizens and we should be making greater efforts to elevate their socio-economic status. The reality is that even hostile Arab-Israelis have no desire to relocate or live under the corrupt and despotic PA administration. Nothing illustrates this more than polls in east Jerusalem showing that the majority of Arabs are opposed to a division of the city.
We are at a crossroads. We should now do what is necessary even if it is, to some, politically incorrect, and stop ignoring the obvious. The vast majority of Israelis say enough is enough. If we must curtail unlimited freedom of expression and irritate our global bleeding hearts to save Israeli lives — so be it.
This column was originally published in the Jerusalem Post and Israel Hayom