Foreign PolicyIslamic TerrorismMedia and the Middle EastMiddle East Peace Plans

Jerusalem murderers were not “lone wolves”

At 7:01 am on Tuesday, November 18th, two Palestinian terrorists entered a synagogue in the Har Nof neighborhood of Jerusalem where about a dozen people were praying. The two were carrying a gun, a meat cleaver, and an ax. Seven minutes later (to the cries of “Allahu Akbar!”) four of the worshippers and a Druze police officer who tried to rescue them were dead and several others were severely wounded. Photographs of the attack’s aftermath, released by the Israeli government, showed prayer shawls, an open prayer book and the arm of one of the four rabbis, wrapped in scripture-laden tefillin, lying in pools of blood. The Palestinian Authority referred to it as a “heroic operation at a religious institution”.

In response to the gruesome axe murders, Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank erupted in spontaneous celebrations by handing out cookies and candy, dancing in the streets, cheering and displaying V-for-victory signs, just like the celebrations that followed the September 11th terror attacks and even the Boston Marathon bombing on April 15th, 2013. A cousin of the attackers said, “Praise God ….. For a person to die as a shahid is a great thing.” In addition, multiple images began surfacing in the media showing Palestinians handing out sweets in the street, flaunting axes and holding up posters “honoring” the two “martyrs”. A shop keeper said: “These are the sweets to celebrate today’s operation. We should be thankful to whoever carried out this operation. May Allah bless their souls.”

Teachers employed by UNRWA (United Nations Relief & Works Agency) also joined in the “celebration”. They went to the social media to praise what they called a “heroic operation,” hoping that Allah would accept the jihadists as “martyrs” in heaven. This should come as no surprise. During Operation Protective Edge last summer, UNRWA schools in Gaza were found to be aiding and abetting Gazan jihadists by allowing deadly booby traps to be set in their facilities and storing missiles on their property courtesy of their Hamas masters. Equally disturbing is that a significant portion of UNRWA’s funding comes from the United States which gives more to UNRWA than any other country in the world, with the U.S. taxpayer disbursing almost $300 million dollars to the institution in 2013.

And what of Fatah, which rules the West Bank and is considered the “moderate” Palestinian faction? Fatah’s website called the massacre a “heroic operation,” its officials called it “a natural response to the…crimes of the settlers,” and the organization’s Facebook page announced it was handing out candy in West Bank cities.

The problem here is that the U.S. and especially the EU continue to coddle the Palestinians by recognizing a Palestinian state (in effect rewarding the Palestinian Authority for its incitement to hatred and its refusal to recognize Israel’s existence) and by repeating over and over again the mantra of a two-state solution despite continuous Palestinian incitement, terror, and their celebration of Israeli murders. Will the spectacle of a devastated synagogue, with prayer shawls lying in blood, finally get some of the truth across? Don’t wait for it. Pew researchers determined less than a year ago that 62% of Palestinian Muslims believe suicide bombings are “justified” against the Jews and that Hamas, the terror organization elected to run Gaza, is viewed favorably by 55% of the Muslim public in Jordan, 52% in Lebanon, 49% in Egypt and 45% in the Palestinian territories.

The problem is that neither the Europeans nor the U.S. Administration are prepared to acknowledge the profound religious hatred that is propelling the Palestinians – Israel’s so-called “peace partner”. Misunderstanding the dangers of this full-blown religious war, Washington and others issued well-worn statements of condemnations to “both sides.” Truth is, Allah – or at least some Islamist interpretation of Allah – is driving these events. What happened at Har Nof synagogue is the product of mainstream Palestinian political culture in which religious symbols such as the fictitious peril to the mosques on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem have been employed by generations of Palestinian leaders to incite hatred of Jews.

These religious differences are not negotiable. For them, this is a zero-sum game that allows only winners and losers. Western leaders who believe otherwise seek to separate the absolutes of faith that make compromise between Israelis and Palestinians impossible. The obstacles to peace aren’t specific Israeli policies, but the Jewish refusal to be evicted from their ancient homeland or to defend their hold on it.

The purpose is not to defend the mosques or Arab claims to Jerusalem but to deny the right of Jews to life, sovereignty, or self-defense in their own country. The infusion of religion into what all too many Western observers believe is just a dispute over land and borders scares many of those who comment on the Middle East. Nevertheless, even the Palestinian Authority’s Supreme Sharia (Islamic law) Judge and Abbas´s adviser Mahmoud Al-Habbash confirmed on PA TV on November 5th (according to Palestine Media Watch) that President Abbas is, in fact, encouraging this religious war.

Contrary to Western media reports, the perpetrators of Arab/Muslim terrorism and Palestinian terrorism in particular, are not “lone wolves”, as they have often been described. They are the by-products of a centuries-old intolerant ideology, supported by educational and religious indoctrination and incitement operating freely in Palestinian kindergartens, schools, universities, mosques and the regime-controlled media in Gaza and the West Bank. The Har Nof terrorists and others like them were not driven by social, economic or human rights issues, but by a fanatical worldview which loathes civil liberties and considers western freedoms of religion, press, association and women´s rights to be an abomination. They are motivated and educated by the belief that their murderous actions bestow upon them the honorable title of “shahid” — a martyr – that they are fulfilling a holy Islamic mission by murdering Jews and advancing the commandment of jihad against the Israeli “infidel.” And they believe they will be rewarded by 72 virgins in paradise.

Unfortunately, the Oslo Accords opened the doors for these religious beliefs to be taught through the Palestinian education system thereby creating a generation of young Palestinian jihadists. The Palestinian Authority’s 7th grade textbook, for example, “Our Beautiful Language” states: “We shall sow Palestine with shahids (martyrs), skeletons and skulls; we shall paint the face of Palestine with blood. … We are returning home to the plains and mountains (of pre-1967 Israel) led by jihad flags, by bloody struggles, and by the willingness to sacrifice ourselves as martyrs.” Another textbook for the 8th grade “Islamic Studies,” says, “Jihad reserves a key role for youngsters, just like those who sought martyrdom during the days of the Prophet Muhammad.”

In short, the PA’s educational system is Koranic-based and designed to spin off a culture of death and martyrdom. Many graduates of this education system are potential terrorists who understand perfectly well that their goal in this world is to target Israeli civilians for death – deliberately and methodically. Their aim is to erode Israeli confidence in their government´s ability to protect them, and frighten them into making existential concessions that will, over time, undermine Israel’s ability to defend itself. While Abbas voices different messages when speaking with the Western media as opposed to the Arab media (as documented by the Middle East Media Research Institute), the message that he teaches Palestinian children reflects his true worldview, as do the monthly allowances he pays to relatives of suicide bombers and the naming of streets, squares, marketplaces, summer camps and sports tournaments after these “martyrs”.

As a result, Palestinian youth idolizes shahids, jihad, and the murderers of Israelis while honoring the families of suicide bombers and delegitimizing Israel as an immoral entity deserving annihilation. Palestinian terrorism is driven not by the size but by the very existence of the Jewish state. The West’s mistake is in believing that Israeli victims and Palestinian terrorists are morally equivalent; that pressuring Israel into making existential concessions while ignoring Palestinian incitement is necessary to secure a true “peace”; and that providing millions in financial aid to the Palestinians enabling them to continue bankrolling hatred through their educational system will provide “incentive” for the Palestinians to bring about a successful “two-state solution.”

These are dangerous fallacies. Nevertheless, according to a recent NPR report, a one-day conference in Cairo generated pledges of some $5.4B to help rebuild Gaza. Of that, approximately $212 million was promised by the U.S., bringing the nation’s total aid to the Palestinians for this year alone to $400 million – a significant portion of which is directed to the families of suicide bombers, imprisoned Palestinian terrorists, the Palestinian media, and the Palestinian educational system that is geared to promoting hatred of Jews and the Jewish state.

Suspending foreign aid to and all communications with the Palestinian Authority would communicate the message that hate education is the antithesis of core U.S. values; that hate educators should not benefit from the largesse of the U.S. taxpayer; and that hate education and peaceful co-existence with the Jewish state are incompatible. It’s time to begin draining the swamp.

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