A Hope Everlasting

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The familiar sense of dread has returned, and it touches every Israeli as they leave for work or school. The most recent wave of terrorist attacks began on Oct. 1, when Eitam and Naama Henkin were driving home from a class reunion and were shot in cold blood, right before the eyes of their four children.

Just 48 hours later, before the Israeli people had a chance to catch their breath, another attack occurred, this one on the eve of the joyous holiday of Simchat Torah: A knife-wielding Arab attacked a young couple, Aharon and Adele Bennett, in the Old City. Rabbi Nehemia Lavi, a resident of the Old City, heard the screams, and ran to protect the couple. Both men, Lavi and Bennett, were killed.

Adele Bennett, who was also stabbed, was spat upon and jeered by the local Arab population as she ran and cried for help.

On Saturday, dozens of rioting Gazans broke through the border fence after hearing a sermon given by Ismail Haniyeh, the head of Hamas in Gaza.

“This is Friday, this is the day of rage. … It is a day that will represent the start of a new intifada in all of the land of Palestine,” Haniyeh told followers after Friday prayers in Gaza. “We give souls and blood for Jerusalem. Jerusalem and Al-Aqsa are part of the religion.” He also described Palestinians who have shot or stabbed Israeli civilians to death as “heroes.”

On Sunday, a female suicide bomber detonated a bomb in her car while passing through a checkpoint in Maaleh Adumin, near Jerusalem, wounding a police officer. A a knife-wielding Israeli Arab from Umm-al-Fahm attacked four Israelis in a kibbutz near Hadera, in northern Israel. On Monday, there were four terrorist attacks in Jerusalem. On Tuesday morning alone, four more attacks.

The recent rise in violence has nothing at all to do with any Palestinian desire for a peaceful, two-state solution. It has absolutely everything to do with the steady stream of incitement, indoctrination, distortion and lies that the Palestinian people have been exposed to since the signing of the Oslo Accords. An entire generation has been bred, from the cradle to a very unfortunate early grave, on anti-Semitic propaganda that looks as if it came directly from the pages of Der Sturmer.

This particular wave of violence has taken on the intensity of religious fervor because it is based on a collection of fallacious, absurd allegations that the Israelis want to take over the Temple Mount.

That is precisely what Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said two weeks ago at the United Nations General Assembly when he declared that the Palestinian people were no longer bound by the Oslo Accords:

“I come before you today from Palestine, compelled to sound the alarm about the grave dangers of what is happening in Jerusalem, where extremist Israeli groups are committing repeated, systematic incursions upon Al-Aqsa mosque, aimed at imposing a new reality and dividing Al-Haram Al-Sharif [the Temple Mount] temporally, allowing extremists, under the protection of Israeli occupying forces and accompanying ministers and Knesset members, to enter the mosque at certain times, while preventing Muslim worshipers from accessing and entering the mosque at those times and freely exercising their religious rights.

“This is the scheme that the Israeli government is pursuing, in direct violation of the status quo since before 1967 and thereafter. By doing so, the occupying power is committing a grave mistake, because we will not accept this, and the Palestinian people will not allow the implementation of this illegal scheme, which is aggravating the sensitivities of Palestinians and Muslims everywhere.

“I call on the Israeli government, before it is too late, to cease its use of brutal force to impose its plans to undermine the Islamic and Christian sanctuaries in Jerusalem, particularly its actions at Al-Aqsa mosque, for such actions will convert the conflict from a political to religious one, creating an explosive in Jerusalem and in the rest of the occupied Palestinian territory.”

What we are witnessing here is not a strategic decision or part of the birth pangs of a Palestinian state, but random, murderous acts of sheer hatred and rage. And what does the world have to say about it? U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry grabbed a canned, tired phrase from his shelf of hackneyed mantras, saying last week from Chile, “Regarding Jerusalem, it absolutely is unacceptable on either side to have violence resorted to as a solution. And I would caution everybody to be calm, not to escalate the situation. It is very important to maintain a sense of calm that will minimize the instinct for escalation.” This, once again, demonstrates his inability to distinguish between arsonist and fire-fighter.

The BBC ran a headline listing the number of Palestinians killed by the IDF, never mentioning that they were killed because they had come at civilians with knives. This is the other tactic the international community often uses, saying that the Israelis use “excessive force” when they simply are defending their civilian population from acts of terror.

In this era of moral equivalency, it seems that Israel would only get the world’s sympathy if the Israeli body count was the same as or higher than that of the Palestinian terrorists who attack them. Israel is not willing to let that happen because Israel is a Jewish state, and Judaism cherishes the sanctity of human life.

With the Middle East currently awash with volatile Sunni-Shiite religious wars, and with all of the straight lines that the post-colonialists drew currently collapsing, we receive news that the familiar, old troupe, the Quartet of Middle East peace negotiators, is heading to Israel to “fix everything” by returning to the “peace process” (as though a two-state solution would be the linchpin to peace in the Middle East, and suddenly the Shiites and Sunnis would sit down and sing “Kumbayah”).

Though the quartet has already canceled the visit, it is worth asking: Why are these diplomats trying to destabilize the one state in the Middle East that is not engulfed in the current warfare? Why are they doing this to the one state in the Middle East where every religious minority has the right to pray?

They are doing this because the “peace process” has become for some, a religion. Once the diplomats step in and it becomes an international matter, nothing can disturb the pursuit of the Holy Grail of the “peace process.”

We saw the same thing during the recent Iranian nuclear negotiations. Once the international community steps in, the truth, or the facts on the ground, were not permitted to interfere with the diplomatic process. Even while the U.S. Congress debated the pros and cons of the nuclear deal, Quds Force Commander Maj. Gen. Ghasem Soleimani, who was still on an international “no-fly list ” and, according to the JCPOA, is supposed to remain on it for the next five years, already flew to Moscow to negotiate the purchase of the S-300 missiles. No one in the international community said a word because it could have, God forbid, interfered with the sacrosanct negotiations.

And of course those negotiations have already been enshrined in international law, which President Barack Obama made sure of by going directly to the United Nations.

I still remember when Israeli soldier Nachson Wachsman was kidnapped and killed by Hamas terrorists in early 1994. He was the first victim of terrorism after the Oslo Accords were signed. People all over the world, even the American news broadcasters from CBS, ABC and NBC, were waiting anxiously to see if the Oslo process would continue. Back then, his name was on everyone’s lips. People prayed for him and worried about his fate.

One of the many great tragedies of the Oslo Accords is that by now there have been thousands of victims of Palestinian terrorism, and because they are too numerous to remember by name their identities have dissolved into anonymous statistics. This is the result of a slow and steady process by which many of us have become immunized and desensitized to the pain of our people, one death at a time. It certainly was not helpful when then-politician Shimon Peres dismissively dubbed these victims as “sacrifices for peace.”

This remark demonstrates how the process of diplomacy has become an end in and of itself. Again, the holy mantle of the “peace process” had to be preserved, irrespective of what sort of carnage the people of Israel had to endure on the streets of Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.

By definition, “peace” cannot mean innocent civilians being killed while out eating pizza, or on their way to work or school. Why do professional diplomats refuse to see that? How can they not see that every time they interfere, there is a dramatic increase in violence?

However, Israel is here to stay and will prevail. I know this because I know of the strength and courage and resilience of the average Israeli citizen. My daughter, who lives in Modiin, she told me that each time she puts her baby daughter to bed, she whispers, “Please remember me.” She also said that each time she gets off the phone with her husband she makes sure to say “I love you” in case it is the last thing they say to one another. But they continue to leave their apartment, hold their heads high, put aside their fears and go to work. They continue to embrace life and to live it with gusto.

This is the true face of courage of the ordinary Israeli. On Saturday night, my daughter and her husband went to a Matisyahu concert at a venue directly outside the Old City of Jerusalem. Israelis will not stop going to concerts, movies, restaurants, synagogues or dance clubs. The Israeli people are the people of hope; the national anthem is called “Hatikvah” — “The Hope” — for a normal, peaceful life that the modern Jewish people have restored in their ancient homeland.

This hope will never be extinguished, despite the hatred that surrounds Israelis, and the profound naivete and ignorance about the region of the professional “peace makers.”

Originally published on Israel Hayom: https://www.israelhayom.com/site/newsletter_opinion.php?id=13977

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The Endowment for Middle East Truth
Founded in 2005, The Endowment for Middle East Truth (EMET) is a Washington, D.C. based think tank and policy center with an unabashedly pro-America and pro-Israel stance. EMET (which means truth in Hebrew) prides itself on challenging the falsehoods and misrepresentations that abound in U.S. Middle East policy.

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