A Generation too Late

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Never in my entire life have I ever wished this hard that I, together with a tiny group of co-activists, would have been wrong all along. We would all prefer to look like the biggest damned fools in the world than to face the horrific situation currently being played out on the streets of Israel.

For the last two decades, I and a small handful of others have spent countless hours on Capitol Hill, talking to members of Congress and their staffers about the relentless, steady stream of incitement vilifying, maligning, demonizing and dehumanizing the Jews, coming from the top of the Palestinian Authority leadership down since the signing of the Oslo Accords in 1993.

Unfortunately, there have been times when we have had to battle the more established, wealthier, “mainstream” American Jewish organizations, who wanted to sweep this critical issue under the rug.

The Palestinian body politic has been waging this bloodthirsty campaign for over two decades. It has seeped into UNRWA textbooks; it is in the mosques, in school plays, in summer camp pageants, in Palestinian Authority-controlled television stations, radio stations and newspapers, and all over social media.

Until very recently, when I brought this issue up in meetings with legislators on Capitol Hill and requested that aid to the Palestinian Authority be conditioned on an end to incitement, the response I would usually get was, “We can’t interfere with the domestic affairs of the Palestinian Authority,” or “We can’t dictate how they chose to educate their children.”

And now there is blood running through the streets of Israel. Arabs armed with butcher knives, meat cleavers and hatchets have struck at Israelis in buses, train stations and the streets of Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Beit Shemesh, Raanana, Efrat, and anywhere a Jew may be found.

This did not just occur spontaneously, out of a vacuum. Ever since the Oslo Accords were signed, the Palestinian people have been hearing a steady and constant campaign of incitement, using every means not only to vilify, malign, demonize and slander the Jews, but to teach the Palestinians that some day all of Israel will be Palestine. An entire generation has grown up steeped in this steady stream of hatred.

Things have gotten so bad that even the New York Times on Friday ran a story about the popular music sweeping through Gaza, Judea and Samaria and among the Israeli Arab Israeli population, with lyrics like “Stab the Zionists and say God is great'” and “Let the knives stab your enemy.”

Israel has faced many challenges in its 67-year history, but what is so unique about the current situation is the utter unpredictability of the violence. Israel’s borders are porous and even some Israeli Arabs and Bedouin who live within the 1967 lines strongly identify with their fellow Arabs and join the Palestinian cause to eradicate the Jews from “Palestine.” These days, when Israelis leave the house for work or school, they simply don’t know if they will return.

On Sept. 30, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas addressed the United Nations Security Council, saying that Israel has destroyed the foundations of the agreements between Israel and the Palestinians.

“As long as Israel refuses to cease settlement activities and release of the fourth group of Palestinian prisoners in accordance with our agreements, it leaves us no choice but to insist that we will not remain the only ones committed to the implementation of these agreements. Israel has destroyed the foundations upon which the political and security agreements are based,” Abbas said.

“We therefore declare that we cannot continue to be bound by these agreements and that Israel must assume all its responsibilities as an occupying power, because the status quo cannot continue.” At that point, Abbas declared the Oslo Accords dead.

Just one day later, the current round of violence began. A young couple, Eitam and Naama Henkin, were driving home from a class reunion when they were brutally shot by terrorists at close range, murdered in cold blood in front of their four young children who were sitting in the back seat of the car.

Over the last few weeks, attacks have been occurring on a daily basis, claiming at last count 11 Israeli lives, with more than 80 injured. I am very sad to report that this is not the end of it. This has been the intifada of the knife attacks. There is a popular video of an imam from Rafah (translated by MEMRI, the Middle East Media Research Institute) that shows him wielding a butcher’s knife with a 6-inch blade as he gives a fiery sermon at his mosque: “My brothers in the West Bank, stab. My brothers in Jerusalem, stab, stab, stab the Jew.”

A baby born in Gaza at the weekend was named “Knife in Jerusalem” by the proud parents.

What makes this round of violence so very difficult to combat is that it has taken on all the passion and fervor of a religious war. As in the 1929 riots in Hebron, the Palestinians have circulated the vicious and wholly fallacious canard that the Jews are planning to destroy Al-Aqsa mosque, the third holiest site for Muslims after Mecca and Medina.

The Israel Police, in one of the most ironic twists of history, have been safeguarding the Palestinians and their right to pray on the Temple Mount while forbidding Jews from praying there. If a Jew is caught silently moving his lips in prayer, he is promptly whisked off the Temple Mount by Israeli police. This is an attempt to mollify Muslim fears, or their excessive paranoia, that the Jews were taking over Al-Aqsa.

In fact, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu recently expressly forbade his cabinet ministers from even visiting the Temple Mount, so as not to inflame the situation. As most of you know, as soon as the Old City of Jerusalem was liberated during the 1967 Six-Day War, General Moshe Dayan, in a supreme act of humanity, handed the keys to the Temple Mount over to the Jordanian Waqf.

So sensitive is the situation that Netanyahu agreed to install surveillance cameras on the Temple Mount. Since the 1967 war, the status quo has been that Arabs have unfettered access to Al-Aqsa. Over the past year, more than 4 million Muslims have come to worship on the Temple Mount. Meanwhile, 200,000 Christians and 12,000 Jews were allowed to visit but not to pray. However, a current, fallacious blood libel is being promulgated through imams in mosques, Palestinian Authority-controlled television and social media, that the Jews are planning to take over Al-Aqsa and destroy it.

Abbas contributed greatly to this modern-day blood libel by saying recently that “Al-Aqsa mosque is ours. They [the Jews] have no right to defile it with their filthy feet. We welcome every drop of blood spilled in Jerusalem. Every shahid [martyr] will be in heaven, and every wounded person will be rewarded, by Allah’s will.”

Last week, the Palestinians used their seat in UNESCO, the U.N. scientific, educational and cultural organization, into which they were admitted in 2011, to work together with the six other Arab member states to float a one-sided resolution condemning Israel for the current violence, and saying that the most revered site for Jews, the Western Wall in Jerusalem, is part of Al-Aqsa.

The resolution also makes false and inflammatory claims solely condemning Israel for what it calls “Israeli aggressions and illegal measures against the freedom of worship and Muslims’ access to their holy site, Al-Aqsa mosque,” and “firmly deplores the continuous storming” of the mosque compound by “Israeli right-wing extremists and uniformed forces.”

Calling it incitement to violence, UNESCO Director General Irena Bokava and U.S. State Department spokesman Edgar Vasquez strongly bashed the draft text of a resolution that seeks to reclassify the Western Wall as a holy Muslim site. The U.S. warned that the resolution threatens to alter the status quo of holy sites such as the Temple Mount, where the Western Wall — the most sacred prayer site in Judaism — is located. The United States, Britain, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Germany and the Netherlands voted against the resolution.

Although this resolution is non-binding, it did say that the Cave of the Patriarchs, where Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were buried, and Rachel’s Tomb, are holy sites only for Muslims.

Another sacred site was torched recently — Joseph’s Tomb, in Nablus.

All of this is part of the Palestinian effort to erase Jewish and Christian roots from the land of Israel and to rewrite history to eradicate the traces of Judaism and Christianity from the land of Israel.

At an emergency session of the United Nations Security Council last week, U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Samantha Power uttered the usual bromides condemning “the cycle of violence on both sides,” refusing, as is the custom of the Obama administration, to distinguish between the arsonist and the firefighter.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry justified the violence, saying there had been a recent “massive increase in settlements” — a statement that is patently false — and that “now you have violence because there’s a frustration growing” — again, patently false.

First of all, growth in settlement activity has greatly slowed in comparison to any similar period since the 1967 war. Secondly, but much more importantly, the West is doing the Palestinians an enormous disservice by excusing and justifying their heinous behavior. Excuses give them license to behave with brutal barbarity, and condemn both Palestinian and Israeli children to early graves.

In reality, this violence has absolutely nothing to do with frustration or diminished hopes of statehood among the Palestinians. It is not the result of a strategic foreign policy decision with a clear objective. It is the logical result of a constant and steady drumbeat of Palestinian incitement, waged to hate and to kill the Jews, that has been metastasizing throughout the body politic of the Palestinians for over two decades. It is pure, simple, unadulterated Jew hatred.

If there is any goal, it is simply to gain attention on the world’s stage while world leaders seem to be engaged in more important matters, such as the Iranian nuclear bomb, and to gain license to go on a killing spree of Jews.

Meanwhile, we can be sure that Kerry, who is headed to the region, will not let go of his stubborn clinging to the single-factor analysis of the problem and his certainty that all of this violence would simply go away in a two-state solution.

The good news is that on Thursday, the House Foreign Affairs Committee held a hearing and voted unanimously to cut American aid to the Palestinians until all incitement stops. The bad news is that it is coming at least one generation too late.

Originally published at https://www.israelhayom.com/site/newsletter_opinion.php?id=14163

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About the Author

Sarah Stern
Sarah Stern is founder and president of the Endowment for Middle East Truth (EMET).

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