Commentary Magazine


Topic: Palestinian terrorism

Video Answers Why Some Succumb to Hate

The Jewish world is still coping with the aftermath of Monday’s violence in Jerusalem. Today Reuven Rivlin, the Speaker of Israel’s Knesset visited a 17-year-old Arab in the hospital where he was still recovering from injuries inflicted by a gang of Jewish teenagers who assaulted him and two others in the capital’s Zion Square. Rivlin condemned the attack and said Israel must increase his efforts to combat hate via education. Rivlin’s sentiments were entirely correct and echoed those of every other leading Israeli political figure. But that hasn’t stopped many observers from highlighting this crime and other incidents as proof that Israel is beset with hate. But as much as Jews are beating their breasts wondering why Jewish kids would behave in this manner, a partial answer was readily available. As the Arab media monitoring group MEMRI reported, the broadcast of hate directed at Jews via official Palestinian media is making it difficult for some Israelis, especially those who have grown up in the shadow of the suicide bombings of the second intifada to accept the idea that they shouldn’t respond in kind.

A good example of the depth of this hatred is exhibited in this segment broadcast by Aqsa TV, the official television of the Hamas government of Gaza. In it, Ahlam Tamimi, who in 2001 took part in the bombing of the Sbarro pizza restaurant in Jerusalem happily boasted of her role in the murder of 15 people, including seven children as her interviewer smiled along as she recounted her joy at taking part in such an atrocity. But what is so chilling about this video — which is provided by the invaluable Arab media monitor group MEMRI — is not just her perverse pride in the crime but that she is sure that the Palestinian people not only approve of her conduct but also agree that she should be considered a heroine rather than a sociopath. Given the way she is treated in this interview, it’s hard to argue with her opinion on that score. As I first wrote yesterday, since Israelis are well aware of this disturbing reality, how can we then be surprised when a small minority of Jews react to this situation with anger and violence?

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The Jewish world is still coping with the aftermath of Monday’s violence in Jerusalem. Today Reuven Rivlin, the Speaker of Israel’s Knesset visited a 17-year-old Arab in the hospital where he was still recovering from injuries inflicted by a gang of Jewish teenagers who assaulted him and two others in the capital’s Zion Square. Rivlin condemned the attack and said Israel must increase his efforts to combat hate via education. Rivlin’s sentiments were entirely correct and echoed those of every other leading Israeli political figure. But that hasn’t stopped many observers from highlighting this crime and other incidents as proof that Israel is beset with hate. But as much as Jews are beating their breasts wondering why Jewish kids would behave in this manner, a partial answer was readily available. As the Arab media monitoring group MEMRI reported, the broadcast of hate directed at Jews via official Palestinian media is making it difficult for some Israelis, especially those who have grown up in the shadow of the suicide bombings of the second intifada to accept the idea that they shouldn’t respond in kind.

A good example of the depth of this hatred is exhibited in this segment broadcast by Aqsa TV, the official television of the Hamas government of Gaza. In it, Ahlam Tamimi, who in 2001 took part in the bombing of the Sbarro pizza restaurant in Jerusalem happily boasted of her role in the murder of 15 people, including seven children as her interviewer smiled along as she recounted her joy at taking part in such an atrocity. But what is so chilling about this video — which is provided by the invaluable Arab media monitor group MEMRI — is not just her perverse pride in the crime but that she is sure that the Palestinian people not only approve of her conduct but also agree that she should be considered a heroine rather than a sociopath. Given the way she is treated in this interview, it’s hard to argue with her opinion on that score. As I first wrote yesterday, since Israelis are well aware of this disturbing reality, how can we then be surprised when a small minority of Jews react to this situation with anger and violence?

Tamimi, a college student and part-time journalist, was sentenced to 16 terms of life in prison for helping to lead the suicide bomber to the Sbarro outlet. The crime, which was perpetrated on a Friday, caught many young mothers and their children in the place where they had stopped for lunch during pre-Sabbath shopping.  Ten years later she was released from prison as part of the deal with Hamas to gain the release of kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit after which Tamimi returned in triumph to Gaza where she continues to receive the acclaim of Palestinians.

Watching this video is a chilling experience for anyone who remembers the shocking pictures of the aftermath of the crime as bloody body parts and dismembered bodies of women and children littered the street in front of the restaurant. Here’s what Tamimi says about her escape from the crime scene:

Afterwards, when I took the bus, the Palestinians around Damascus Gate [in Jerusalem] were all smiling. You could sense that everybody was happy. When I got on the bus, nobody knew that it was me who had led [the suicide bomber to the target] … I was feeling quite strange, because I had left [the bomber] ‘Izz Al-Din behind, but inside the bus, they were all congratulating one another. They didn’t even know one another, yet they were exchanging greetings…While I was sitting on the bus, the driver turned on the radio. But first, let me tell you about the gradual rise in the number of casualties. While I was on the bus and everybody was congratulating one another.

After hearing an initial report that only “three people were killed” in the bombing, Tamimi said this:

I admit that I was a bit disappointed, because I had hoped for a larger toll. Yet when they said “three dead,” I said: ‘Allah be praised’… Two minutes later, they said on the radio that the number had increased to five. I wanted to hide my smile, but I just couldn’t. Allah be praised, it was great. As the number of dead kept increasing, the passengers were applauding.

She later states in the video that the applause continued in Ramallah where her bus took her and that Palestinian policemen there “congratulated” all on the bus for the news about the death of the Jewish men, women and children even though they had no idea she was one of those who had accomplished this feat.

Were Tamimi and those who applauded her action a tiny minority of Palestinian society or merely members of an extremist faction with no support it might be possible to dismiss her as an aberration. But she is not an outlier. Tamimi is right that the vast majority of Palestinians supported her crime and still consider her praiseworthy. Those who cannot understand the lack of support among the Palestinians for a peace deal that would give them a state including parts of Jerusalem need to realize that the hate that is routinely broadcast on the stations controlled by both Hamas and Fatah merely reflects popular sentiment. For them, the Jews killed at Sbarro’s were merely, as she put it, “Zionists” who deserve to die.

Arab hatred does not justify Jewish misbehavior. But those lamenting a disturbing trend among Jews to mirror the hatred of the Palestinians need to look at the environment in which Jews are living and ponder how it is that so few Israelis have succumbed to the virus of hate.

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Dig Up His Crimes Along With Arafat’s Body

An Al Jazeera documentary and a statement from Yasir Arafat’s widow has led to a decision by the Palestinian Authority to exhume the former leader of the PA and to conduct an investigation into the cause of his death in 2004. While Palestinians have often spoken of Arafat’s demise being the result of an alleged Israeli plot, were such a probe to be honest, the Jewish state would probably have nothing to fear. More to the point, any discussion of Arafat’s death will necessarily involve highlighting what he did before he expired in Lausanne, Switzerland. And that is not something the Palestinians or their apologists ought to welcome.

Arafat’s death at the age of 75 was something of a mystery and predictably fueled conspiracy theories. Suspicion that foul play was involved will only be heightened if Al Jazeera’s allegation is accurate that his clothes contained trace amounts of polonium, a radioactive substance generally associated with assassinations carried out by agents of the former Soviet Union and the current Putin regime in Russia. That  helps to remind us that of all the players in the Middle East drama at the time of his demise, Israel was probably the only one that had an interest in keeping him alive rather than putting an end to his pathetic misrule of the territories. Hamas, his Fatah underlings as well as the host of enemies Arafat made during his career as the world’s number one terrorist, are all far more likely suspects than Israel. However, if Arafat is to be dug up, the focus on the mystery of his death ought to also revive some interest in his criminal career that provides an appropriate context to his ignominious death.

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An Al Jazeera documentary and a statement from Yasir Arafat’s widow has led to a decision by the Palestinian Authority to exhume the former leader of the PA and to conduct an investigation into the cause of his death in 2004. While Palestinians have often spoken of Arafat’s demise being the result of an alleged Israeli plot, were such a probe to be honest, the Jewish state would probably have nothing to fear. More to the point, any discussion of Arafat’s death will necessarily involve highlighting what he did before he expired in Lausanne, Switzerland. And that is not something the Palestinians or their apologists ought to welcome.

Arafat’s death at the age of 75 was something of a mystery and predictably fueled conspiracy theories. Suspicion that foul play was involved will only be heightened if Al Jazeera’s allegation is accurate that his clothes contained trace amounts of polonium, a radioactive substance generally associated with assassinations carried out by agents of the former Soviet Union and the current Putin regime in Russia. That  helps to remind us that of all the players in the Middle East drama at the time of his demise, Israel was probably the only one that had an interest in keeping him alive rather than putting an end to his pathetic misrule of the territories. Hamas, his Fatah underlings as well as the host of enemies Arafat made during his career as the world’s number one terrorist, are all far more likely suspects than Israel. However, if Arafat is to be dug up, the focus on the mystery of his death ought to also revive some interest in his criminal career that provides an appropriate context to his ignominious death.

It bears remembering that at the time he fell ill in his besieged compound in Ramallah, Israel had good reason to keep the old terrorist safe and sound. So long as Arafat was the face of Palestinian nationalism, his bloodthirsty reputation guaranteed the Jewish state a degree of sympathy that it lost once he was replaced by the more presentable Mahmoud Abbas, though the latter was no less obdurate in his refusal to make peace than his predecessor.

Arafat more or less invented modern international terrorism in the 1970s. But even after supposedly embracing peace with his historic handshake with Yitzhak Rabin on the White House Lawn in September 1993, Arafat had continued to promote and subsidize terror attacks against Israelis, Jews and Americans. When then Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak offered him an independent state in almost all of the West Bank, Gaza and a share of Jerusalem at Camp David in 2000 and Taba in 2001, he turned the offers down flat. His answer to these peace initiatives was a terrorist war of attrition, the so-called second intifada that cost the lives of more than 1,000 Israelis and far more Palestinians.

In the aftermath of that debacle, Arafat was isolated and humiliated, living in the ruins of his compound in Ramallah after Israeli forces complied with American requests to spare the Palestinian leader. At this stage, he was unlikely to be able to do Israel any more harm, but both Hamas and his Fatah underlings had good reason to want him gone.

Hamas knew that without Arafat, their campaign to oust Fatah from Gaza and launch a long march to Palestinian power could never begin. Though Arafat ruled Fatah and the territories with an iron hand and the help of 17 separate and competing intelligence agencies, the mainstream Palestinian party and its terrorist thugs understood that recovery from the intifada required the imperious and corrupt Arafat to exit the stage. The bottom line is that a lot of people wanted Arafat dead. But Israel was the only party that had a vested interest in keeping him alive.

The puzzle of his death has so many pieces it is unlikely we will ever get to the bottom of the story, especially because Palestinian politics will require that Israel be branded as the guilty party even if all the evidence points in a different direction. The role of Suha Arafat, his much younger widow who has continued to live like a queen in Paris in the years since these events, is also complicated because, as Ha’aretz notes, she refused his doctors her permission for them to conduct a liver biopsy as he lay on his deathbed.

But no matter who was responsible for his death, there should be no doubt that the man who died in France November 2004 was responsible for the slaughter of countless thousands, the introduction of new and fiendish methods of terrorism and for preventing any hope of peace between the Palestinians and Israel. The Palestinians would do better to examine their own failed and distorted political culture that makes peace impossible rather than worry about who killed the man who put them in the impossible position in which they still find themselves.

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Price Tags and the Bigotry of Low Palestinian Expectations

Earlier this week, a mosque in the West Bank was vandalized. This reprehensible attack is believed to be the work of radical Jews who wished to make it plain to Israeli authorities — and not as probably most Westerners think — the Palestinians, that the removal of settlers from housing that was not legally purchased or constructed with the permission of the state will carry with it a “price tag.” These so-called “price tag” attacks have grown in recent years, even though the overwhelming majority of settlers, not to mention the Israeli people, deplore them. But though any such attack on a religious institution is a stain on the honor of the Jewish people and inevitably generates negative coverage of Israel such as this feature published in the New York Times on Tuesday, the bottom line is that in a democracy thugs do not get their way. As the Times reported that same day, the Israeli government has secured agreement from the few inhabitants of Ulpana to leave their homes that were ruled by a court to be built on private Palestinian property in the vicinity of the existing and quite legal Beit El settlement. In doing so, the rule of law has been vindicated.

But amid the general condemnation of the behavior of the extremist settlers that for some calls into question the legitimacy of the entire Zionist enterprise, it is worth noting an element of the story generally missing from most accounts in the Western press of the “price tag” attacks as well as allegations of settler violence toward local Arabs. However wrong the extremists are–and they are dead wrong–their behavior has not occurred in a vacuum. To focus only on settler misbehavior ignores a context in which attacks on Jews in the West Bank is a regular occurrence. And that includes Arab attacks on synagogues. The problem is that the foreign press gives the Jewish violence the sort of “man bites dog” treatment that makes it worthy of notice, whereas Palestinian misbehavior is simply taken for granted. This bigotry of low expectations is at the heart of the problem.

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Earlier this week, a mosque in the West Bank was vandalized. This reprehensible attack is believed to be the work of radical Jews who wished to make it plain to Israeli authorities — and not as probably most Westerners think — the Palestinians, that the removal of settlers from housing that was not legally purchased or constructed with the permission of the state will carry with it a “price tag.” These so-called “price tag” attacks have grown in recent years, even though the overwhelming majority of settlers, not to mention the Israeli people, deplore them. But though any such attack on a religious institution is a stain on the honor of the Jewish people and inevitably generates negative coverage of Israel such as this feature published in the New York Times on Tuesday, the bottom line is that in a democracy thugs do not get their way. As the Times reported that same day, the Israeli government has secured agreement from the few inhabitants of Ulpana to leave their homes that were ruled by a court to be built on private Palestinian property in the vicinity of the existing and quite legal Beit El settlement. In doing so, the rule of law has been vindicated.

But amid the general condemnation of the behavior of the extremist settlers that for some calls into question the legitimacy of the entire Zionist enterprise, it is worth noting an element of the story generally missing from most accounts in the Western press of the “price tag” attacks as well as allegations of settler violence toward local Arabs. However wrong the extremists are–and they are dead wrong–their behavior has not occurred in a vacuum. To focus only on settler misbehavior ignores a context in which attacks on Jews in the West Bank is a regular occurrence. And that includes Arab attacks on synagogues. The problem is that the foreign press gives the Jewish violence the sort of “man bites dog” treatment that makes it worthy of notice, whereas Palestinian misbehavior is simply taken for granted. This bigotry of low expectations is at the heart of the problem.

If one reads the Israeli press, you know that a synagogue on a moshav in central Israel was vandalized with Muslim graffiti this week, but you missed it if all you see is the New York Times. Nor was that the first such attack on a synagogue. Similarly, tucked into some but by no means all of the stories about the dismantling of Ulpana is the fact that the houses were built there as a response to the murder 12 years ago of a Jewish mother and child by Arab terrorists.

Mentioning this does not rationalize settler violence, let alone excuse it. But doing so does spoil the prevailing narrative of the West Bank morality play that Israel’s critics promote which portrays the settlers as evil and the Palestinians the innocents. The situation in the West Bank is complex. The Arabs who live there have a right to have their property rights respected and to go about their lives without fear of violence. But the same should apply to the Jews who live nearby. But unfortunately, not only do the Palestinians not respect the right of Jews to live on this land, they also do not respect their right to do so in safety. This position is granted legitimacy of a sort by a foreign press that implicitly accepts the frame of reference that regards all Jews in the West Bank as usurpers or thieves, even if the land they live on is indisputably owned by Jews.

Those who believe Jews have no right to live anywhere in the West Bank or in the parts of Jerusalem that were illegally occupied by Jordan from 1949 to 1967 can only do so by effectively negating the historic and legal rights of the Jewish people. But even those who hold this position must acknowledge that a peaceful solution to the Middle East conflict cannot be built on the sort of anti-Jewish violence that is so routine it barely rates any coverage in the West.

More to the point, until Arab violence is treated as being as reprehensible as most Israelis consider the “price tag” attacks, the Palestinians will go on laboring under the misapprehension they can force the Jews out. That bigotry of low expectations directed at the Palestinians is a far greater obstacle to peace than any settlement.

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Palestinian Politics Jenin Style

In today’s New York Times, new Israel correspondent Jodi Rudoren writes of how the recently deceased Palestinian governor of the city of Jenin is being viewed as a “martyr” in the fight against gangs and the symbol of the failing struggle to transform the Palestinian Authority into a viable state. Qadoura Moussa, who died of a heart attack following an assassination attempt that is interpreted as part of the battle in which control of the streets is at stake, helped create the idea that there was a “Jenin model” in which good government would replace the mafia-style corruption and violence that had heretofore characterized Palestinian life.

Moussa’s death is rightly seen as yet another blow to Fayyadism, the term that Times columnist Thomas Friedman attached to the efforts of PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad to transform Palestinian society so as to allow for the rise of a rational modern state. But, as the insightful journalist Khaled Abu Toameh wrote just a day earlier on the website of the Gatestone Institute, the truth about the reality of life in Jenin has been apparent for years. The problem is, the foreign and Palestinian press was far too intimidated to report that the illusion of law and order in Jenin was always a lie.

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In today’s New York Times, new Israel correspondent Jodi Rudoren writes of how the recently deceased Palestinian governor of the city of Jenin is being viewed as a “martyr” in the fight against gangs and the symbol of the failing struggle to transform the Palestinian Authority into a viable state. Qadoura Moussa, who died of a heart attack following an assassination attempt that is interpreted as part of the battle in which control of the streets is at stake, helped create the idea that there was a “Jenin model” in which good government would replace the mafia-style corruption and violence that had heretofore characterized Palestinian life.

Moussa’s death is rightly seen as yet another blow to Fayyadism, the term that Times columnist Thomas Friedman attached to the efforts of PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad to transform Palestinian society so as to allow for the rise of a rational modern state. But, as the insightful journalist Khaled Abu Toameh wrote just a day earlier on the website of the Gatestone Institute, the truth about the reality of life in Jenin has been apparent for years. The problem is, the foreign and Palestinian press was far too intimidated to report that the illusion of law and order in Jenin was always a lie.

The notion that Jenin, which was the hub of Palestinian terror during the second intifada and the site of a pitched battle between gunmen and the Israeli Defense Force in 2002, had become a PA success story was an attractive theme for journalists eager to paint a more attractive picture of the Palestinians. But as Toameh, who knows more about the politics of the territories than anyone else writing in English, points out, the “Jenin model” was always a myth. The anarchy and lawlessness in the region was not happening in spite of the efforts of the Western-trained PA security forces but in no small measure because of them.

The problem goes deeper than just a few cases of corruption or the fact that many of those recruited into the Palestinian security services are former criminals and killers who quickly revert to their old habits for profit. Rather, it is that Palestinian political culture still treats violence as legitimate. The line between the terrorist groups that double as political parties such as Fatah and Hamas and the armed gangs and clans that the PA fights in the streets of towns like Jenin is razor thin. That’s why any expectation that Fatah or even Hamas can foster law and order other than by their own reign of terror at their rivals’ expense is farcical.

Genuine moderates who desire real change like Salam Fayyad are the outliers, not the criminals. Men like Fayyad also lack a political constituency. That means they are not just outnumbered but outgunned.

Yet this is a tale that has generally been ignored by the Western press that has, as Abu Toameh notes, feared to tell the truth about the Palestinians. The result is that Western governments continue to pour in vast amounts of cash and aid that has done little to help. Fayyadism is a nice idea, but the problem is that it is more popular in American newsrooms than in the streets of Palestinian towns. Though Rudoren’s article in today’s Times gives some belated attention to this problem, it still fails to go to the heart of the cancer eating away at the PA. The rationale for Palestinian statehood as well as for more Israeli territorial withdrawals to further empower these gangsters and terrorists seems more farfetched than ever.

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Blame Palestinians, Not Netanyahu, for Shalit Prisoner Recidivism

Critics of Israel’s decision to exchange 1,000 Palestinian prisoners for kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit predicted it would happen. And they were right. Israel’s Shin Bet — the country’s national security agency — announced today that two of those released in order to gain Shalit’s freedom were rearrested on terrorism-related charges. One was brought up on charges of buying illegal weapons while the other was part of a plot to commit more kidnappings of Israelis. This will, no doubt, lead to a chorus of “I told you so’s” from those who blasted Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu for agreeing to the lopsided exchange.

These two are probably just the tip of the iceberg in terms of recidivism. As was the case with past prisoner exchanges, there is every expectation that many more of those released in order to save Shalit will be back trying to kill Israelis before long. But though this will lead many of those who were opposed to the trade to believe this discredits Netanyahu’s choice, they will discover the vast majority of Israelis who approved it probably won’t change their minds. The possibility that many, if not most, of the released prisoners would not abide by the terms of the deal was raised in advance of the exchange and acknowledged by its supporters, if not Netanyahu himself. Yet the same reasons that led this point to be discounted last year still apply.

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Critics of Israel’s decision to exchange 1,000 Palestinian prisoners for kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit predicted it would happen. And they were right. Israel’s Shin Bet — the country’s national security agency — announced today that two of those released in order to gain Shalit’s freedom were rearrested on terrorism-related charges. One was brought up on charges of buying illegal weapons while the other was part of a plot to commit more kidnappings of Israelis. This will, no doubt, lead to a chorus of “I told you so’s” from those who blasted Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu for agreeing to the lopsided exchange.

These two are probably just the tip of the iceberg in terms of recidivism. As was the case with past prisoner exchanges, there is every expectation that many more of those released in order to save Shalit will be back trying to kill Israelis before long. But though this will lead many of those who were opposed to the trade to believe this discredits Netanyahu’s choice, they will discover the vast majority of Israelis who approved it probably won’t change their minds. The possibility that many, if not most, of the released prisoners would not abide by the terms of the deal was raised in advance of the exchange and acknowledged by its supporters, if not Netanyahu himself. Yet the same reasons that led this point to be discounted last year still apply.

The first is that although the return of these terrorists to their deadly trade tells us a lot about the Palestinians, it is not as if these two or all thousands of those given up for Shalit are filling a void in the ranks of Hamas or any other group. Though their experience may be helpful as veteran cadres, there was and is no shortage of recruits to join them. That means that any casualties incurred by the actions of the freed terrorists would probably have happened even if they had never been let go. It simply isn’t fair to assert that Shalit’s life was bought with the blood of others.

Even more importantly, most Israelis still believe Shalit’s life was worth even an exorbitant price. The idea of a leaving an ordinary youngster who had been drafted into the service of his country to die was simply unacceptable. Though these imbalanced exchanges may make no sense to the rational dispassionate observer who may well say they only encourage future kidnappings (such as those the released prisoner was plotting), Israelis believe it is immaterial to the main question of doing everything to ensure that no solider is ever left behind.

A better question to be asked today is why the Palestinian leadership continues to encourage such activities. The general celebration of the release of convicted killers by the Palestinian population illustrated that their devotion to a culture of violence is unchanged. So long as that is true, they will continue to produce such killers. That fact gives the lie to the charges that the lack of peace is Israel’s fault. It is this awful insight into the mindset of the Palestinians that will determine whether future generations of Israelis will be forced to fight and their leaders presented with unpalatable dilemmas such as that faced by Netanyahu.

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The Palestinian Excuse for Terror

Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad issued a call today to foreign terrorists to stop using the plight of the Palestinians as an excuse for their crimes. In condemning the Toulouse massacre two days after the killings, Fayyad said, “Extremists must stop pretending to stand up for the rights of Palestinian children who only ask for a decent life.” This was in reaction to the news that Mohammed Merah, the arrested suspect in the Toulouse shootings, claimed that the atrocity was done in part to exact revenge on the Jews for their supposedly poor treatment of the Palestinians.

Fayyad is right that “solidarity” with the Palestinians ought not to be used as a reason to commit murder. But as much as that is good advice for those, like Merah, who have links to al Qaeda and other Islamist groups, it would be even better if Fayyad’s own people — including those affiliated with the PA government that he still runs — would heed his plea. Palestinian groups like Hamas (soon to become part of the PA), PA President Mahmoud Abbas’s own Fatah Party, as well as more extreme groups such as Islamic Jihad, have been using their complaints against Israel as justification for crimes just as horrible as those committed in Toulouse for decades.

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Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad issued a call today to foreign terrorists to stop using the plight of the Palestinians as an excuse for their crimes. In condemning the Toulouse massacre two days after the killings, Fayyad said, “Extremists must stop pretending to stand up for the rights of Palestinian children who only ask for a decent life.” This was in reaction to the news that Mohammed Merah, the arrested suspect in the Toulouse shootings, claimed that the atrocity was done in part to exact revenge on the Jews for their supposedly poor treatment of the Palestinians.

Fayyad is right that “solidarity” with the Palestinians ought not to be used as a reason to commit murder. But as much as that is good advice for those, like Merah, who have links to al Qaeda and other Islamist groups, it would be even better if Fayyad’s own people — including those affiliated with the PA government that he still runs — would heed his plea. Palestinian groups like Hamas (soon to become part of the PA), PA President Mahmoud Abbas’s own Fatah Party, as well as more extreme groups such as Islamic Jihad, have been using their complaints against Israel as justification for crimes just as horrible as those committed in Toulouse for decades.

Fayyad condemned the Toulouse shootings as an “attack on innocent lives” and a “cowardly terrorist act.” But how would he describe the missile attacks on Israeli civilians carried out by Palestinians on a regular basis to this very day from Gaza. How would he describe the routine attacks on Jews in the West Bank? And what words can he conjure him to adequately depict the depravity of the campaign of suicide bombings carried out by leaders of the ruling Fatah Party only a few years ago during the second intifada? Were the Jewish infants slaughtered at a Jerusalem pizza restaurant, or the Jewish teens blown up at a Tel Aviv discotheque or those killed in dozens of other incidents less human, less innocent than the children killed in France this week?

The Palestinians more or less invented the modern variant of terrorism in the 1970s and have always justified their policy of trying to murder as many Jewish civilians as possible because of what they say is their plight under Israeli occupation. Though the current leadership of the Palestinian Authority says it opposes terror, it continues to honor terrorists in every way possible including its television broadcasts.

Fayyad is himself one of the rare Palestinian political figures who have never been implicated in terrorism. That’s to his credit but it’s also the reason why he has virtually no constituency among his own people. Were he linked to some murders of Jews, he might not be on the way out of office since Hamas has demanded Fayyad’s ouster as part of the price for joining the PA.

The Palestinians should be worried about the Toulouse attack because it should serve as a reminder to Europeans that their delegitimization of Jewish life and Jewish self-defense in Israel cannot be separated from attacks on Jews elsewhere.  Though the Palestinian issue is merely a pretext for the revival of anti-Semitism, the killings in France could shock some on the continent enough to make them understand that killing Jews anywhere — be it in Toulouse or in the Middle East — is merely a function of that same old hatred that the Palestinians have embraced.

As much as some, such as EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, have tried to draw a slanderous comparison between Israeli self-defense in Gaza and the Toulouse crime, the real analogy is to the actions of the Palestinians. Until the Palestinians renounce their war on Israel and give up violence for good, Salam Fayyad’s statement can be put down as the rankest form of hypocrisy.

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Iran’s Gaza Missile Gambit

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the Knesset today that recent missile attacks on southern Israel from Gaza ought not to be regarded as a separate struggle from the international focus on halting Iran’s drive for nuclear weapons. He laid the primary responsibility for the violence squarely on Tehran, saying, “Gaza is Iran.” The allusion was to the fact that the groups that launched the barrage, including Islamic Jihad, are directly linked to the Iranian regime. While some of Netanyahu’s Palestinian critics understand he is right about Iran being behind the terrorist groups who are most interested in heating up the conflict, they still reflexively blame Israel for the incidents. They claim there was something wrong about efforts to interdict terror squads as they are launching missiles or other attacks. This is not only morally obtuse in that it treats Israeli self-defense as inherently illegitimate but also helps to obscure both the immediate and underlying responsibility for the flare up.

As Jonathan Schanzer writes in Foreign Policy, the latest terror offensive that led to more than 200 missiles being fired at Israel was the brainchild of the Iranians. By starting the fight that the Israelis finished, Iran’s terrorist proxies were not just seeking to burnish their image by seeking to kill Jews; they were also punishing Hamas for walking away from its long alliance with Tehran:

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the Knesset today that recent missile attacks on southern Israel from Gaza ought not to be regarded as a separate struggle from the international focus on halting Iran’s drive for nuclear weapons. He laid the primary responsibility for the violence squarely on Tehran, saying, “Gaza is Iran.” The allusion was to the fact that the groups that launched the barrage, including Islamic Jihad, are directly linked to the Iranian regime. While some of Netanyahu’s Palestinian critics understand he is right about Iran being behind the terrorist groups who are most interested in heating up the conflict, they still reflexively blame Israel for the incidents. They claim there was something wrong about efforts to interdict terror squads as they are launching missiles or other attacks. This is not only morally obtuse in that it treats Israeli self-defense as inherently illegitimate but also helps to obscure both the immediate and underlying responsibility for the flare up.

As Jonathan Schanzer writes in Foreign Policy, the latest terror offensive that led to more than 200 missiles being fired at Israel was the brainchild of the Iranians. By starting the fight that the Israelis finished, Iran’s terrorist proxies were not just seeking to burnish their image by seeking to kill Jews; they were also punishing Hamas for walking away from its long alliance with Tehran:

As the Iranians see it, Hamas has outlived its usefulness.… The Iranian leadership also has its own reasons for wreaking havoc in Gaza now. For starters, it deflects international attention from Tehran’s nuclear activities. With Israel on the brink of war with the Palestinians, the international community’s Pavlovian response is to rein Israel in and call for calm on both sides. The United Nations is now rushing to avert a war in Gaza instead of looking at new ways to halt Iran’s nuclear drive.

Moreover, any unrest in the region reverberates in the oil markets. Traders don’t like to see violence near their energy sources — just look at the 2006 war between Israel and Lebanon, which drove oil prices up almost 15 percent, despite the fact that Lebanon is not an oil exporter. Causing spikes in oil prices is the easiest way for Iran to circumvent sanctions: The more oil costs, the more cash Tehran can raise as it takes those last fateful steps toward the nuclear threshold.

Schanzer is spot on in his diagnosis of the way the Iranians have been able to manipulate their terrorist proxies. In doing so, not only has Hamas been embarrassed, but the violence also helps exacerbate the split between its various factions, thereby making the Gaza region it rules unstable.

But the problem goes deeper than that. As Schanzer notes, though Hamas may be trying to wean itself from its Iranian sponsor, the “martyrdom” culture it helped cultivate, weapons tunnels it helped build and maintain, and small but lethal terrorist groups it continues to finance,” roils the region.

However, Iran doesn’t deserve all the blame for the “culture” of violence it helped finance for years. The process by which any group, no matter how bloodthirsty, can be outflanked in the way that Islamic Jihad and the Palestinian Resistance Committee are doing to Hamas, is the fault of a Palestinian political culture that always rewards those who commit violence against Jews.

Apologists for the Palestinians will continue to try to blame all this on Israel alone or on the Jewish state and Iran. But the reason why Tehran is able to exploit this situation is that Palestinians are always ready to start killing at the drop of a hat. As much as Netanyahu is right to assert Iran’s responsibility in this episode, were the Palestinians not as besotted with bloodletting, such efforts would never succeed.

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