During the last month, since the beginning of the Jewish New Year, Israel has seen a dramatic upsurge of deadly attacks by Arabs against Jews. 24 attacks against Jewish ‘targets’ in less than a month have left eight dead and 57 wounded, some critically. The terrorists make no distinction between victims, so long as they are Jewish. Most of their recent victims have therefore been the religious Jews, easily identified by their conservative dress. Age is no barrier; the terrorists stab babies and old women with abandon and without remorse. Yet although the assault on Jews on Israeli streets has been no secret, the media has been largely ignoring it. There are no headlines, it seems, in the blood of Jews murdered in the streets of Israel.
The Obama administration has been showing its indifference by falling back on the old, worn-out policy of moral equivalence between Arab terrorism and Israeli self-defense.
The State Department spokesperson Mark Tone refused to say that the Palestinian Arabs were in any way responsible for the deadly rash terrorism and implied that both sides are equally guilty of “incitement”.
US Secretary of State John Kerry also invoked the moral equivalence that defines US policy in the region. For him, both Arab terrorism against Israelis and the Israeli response to it is equally to blame for the murder of civilians by young men armed with butcher knives. He avoided any reference to the virulent incitement of anti-Semitic and anti-Israel propaganda being broadcast by Palestinian leadership – including by PA leader Mahmoud Abbas himself.
Perhaps Kerry missed the broadcast on September 16, 2015, when Abbas went on official Palestinian Television and told viewers (in Arabic, of course) “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 (martyr) will be in heaven, and every wounded will get his reward. . . . Al-Aqsa is ours and the (Church of the) Holy Sepulcher is ours. Everything is ours. They (the Jews) have no right to desecrate them with their filthy feet and we won’t allow them to. ”
Instead of responding appropriately to Abbas’ incitement to violence, Kerry mindlessly invoked the tired, old formula, “We continue to stress the importance of all — all — persons of responsibility to condemn the violence on either side, and to avoid provocative statements. I continue to urge all sides to take affirmative steps to restore calm.”
In an interview with Harvard Professor Graham Allison, Kerry got down to what he considers the real cause of the violence (avoiding, of course “provocative statements”).
“So here’s the deal. . . . ” (wait for it) “there’s been a massive increase in settlements over the course of the last years. Now you have this violence because there’s a frustration that is growing . . .” So we’re back to saying that the murder of Jews is an appropriate response to the building of ‘settlements’, which are really small towns that have been built in the open desert of the West Bank.
Now Kerry, with his usual hubris, is planning a trip to the region to attempt to “restore calm”. It is difficult to know how Kerry intends to do that, when his view of the situation is so ill-informed, but he has urged both Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas to take “affirmative steps to reduce tensions” in preparation for his arrival.
Kerry’s attempt at moral equivalence fell flat in Jerusalem. Israel, it seems, has awakened to the reality that the US is no longer the friend and ally it purports to be. America’s misbegotten foreign policy has done so much to foment the deadly unrest and chaos in the Middle East that even tiny Israel, willfully blind to America’s doublespeak for many years, must now recognize that in this time of crisis, it stands alone.
One member of Israel’s parliament, Moti Yogev, said, “There is no doubt that John Kerry has made every mistake possible in every Middle East country and around the world. . . . We already knew that there was no way Kerry would analyze the current situation rationally.”
Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu explained the cause of the new wave of terrorism succinctly. “The terrorism does not stem from frustration over the lack of progress in the diplomatic process. The motive of the terror is to destroy us. That was the objective of terrorism from the first days of Zionism, and that is its objective in our days as well.”
Israel’s reaction The Israeli response to the rapidly increasing violence, particularly on the streets of Jerusalem, Israel’s capital, has been as swift as could be expected in a healthy, cantankerous democracy, where heated discussion often impedes rapid progress, however urgent. Israel is now taking a number of steps, which they hope will turn the tide of growing violence and return the country to a quieter and safer condition.
New rules of engagement have been already been or are in the process of being put in place. They include:
- Israeli snipers are now allowed to engage rock throwers with lower power rounds (The rocks that have been thrown at cars on public roads can be as large as concrete blocks and have often been lethal weapons against Israeli drivers.)
- Israel’s traditionally draconian gun laws have been relaxed so that more Israelis will be able to carry weapons for self-protection.
- Arabs who commit crimes of terror and their families are now likely to lose their health insurance and other benefits, which they currently receive from the Israeli government.
- And the bodies of Arabs killed while committing acts of terrorism may no longer be returned to their families for burial, but will be buried in special isolated graveyards located near Israel’s borders, in order to limit the cause for celebrations that have been taking place at the funerals of Arab “martyrs” who died trying to kill Jews.
The chaos that has engulfed the Middle East in recent years has reached its evil fingers into the one truly democratic state and unshakable ally of America in the region. And, judging by the deadly silence of the world as terrorists run rampant through Israel’s streets, Israel stands alone. The world will only comment if Israel succeeds in putting down this latest assault on law and order within its borders. Then Israel will no doubt come under censure for whatever measures it takes to restore calm.
Israel’s laws are based on a system of ethics built over thousands of years. When Israel refuses to invoke the death penalty for terrorists with Jewish blood on their hands, it is because of a fundamental belief that man can be redeemed and that Jews should not be governed by the same blood-lust that drives their enemies.
But history has informed us that this is a questionable standard, because when Israel spares the lives of evil men, they leave themselves open to the notorious hostage trades in which hundreds of terrorists are released for the return of a single Israeli captive or coffin. The results are predictable. A large percentage of those released return to kill again.
The Jewish people have maintained a presence in what is now Israel for thousands of years. Much of the narrative of the bible is known to have taken place there. It can be easily argued that the State of Israel has been, over its brief 67-year history, a stabilizing presence between the unstable governments that surround it. It is shameful that in the light of the current resurgence of terrorism in Israel’s cities and roads, the world refuses to stand beside her.
In light the abandonment of its allies, it is time for Israel to take the gloves off and engage the enemy in earnest. As Iran and Russia close in around the Jewish state from the north, as ISIS continues to spread from Syria to the Sinai and Gaza to the south, Israel cannot afford to become either a hostage or a victim to a world gone mad.
There can be no tolerance for Islamic terror against civilians and the madness must end now. Terrorism must not be allowed to trump civilization or we are all lost.
On the eve of the Jewish New Year, Prime Minister Netanyahu said, “We are determined to turn Israel into a world power, and not only to defend ourselves, but also to be a light unto the nations. But first we have to secure our light here, in our land.”
Now would be a good time to start.