Many of us, especially those who like myself see ourselves as essentially liberals, find it difficult to separate wish from reality. This is particularly true in the political realm but as I get older I get better. That is why I find my positions more often on the conservative side while my heart remains liberal.
I mention this because one of the two authors of this report, Hirsh Goodman, is an ex-South African (if my memory serves) of a liberal persuasion. Yet despite this, like me, he comes to the bleak conclusion reflected in the report “The Knife and the Message: the roots of the new Palestinian uprising” which is summarised below in their Executive Summary.
I would just add the following comments;
Netanyahu is probably right when he says: attempts to explain Palestinian terrorism as motivated by despair are “incorrect.” Terror attacks “don’t come because of their despair and frustration over their inability to build. They come because of their despair and frustration over their inability to destroy.”
And, secondly, the author’s final paragraph is weak. They conclude “Israel can control the damage, but only Fatah and the PA can end it, and it is they, the Palestinian leadership, who have to do so if the path to negotiation and conciliation is to be opened again, and this endless and senseless wave of violence extinguished.”
But according to the authors, the Palestinians are motivated by a clear strategy: to undermine the determination and morale of Israel and its supporters by random terror (drawing from the example of Islamic State) in the belief that a generally fearful and prejudiced West will find a way to sacrifice Israel if they feel it will take some heat off them. Thus, from the Palestinian point of view, the stabbings are anything but senseless and they are not interested in “negotiations and reconciliation” as the authors hopefully imply.
The authors and Israel need to internalise this truth. A great deal of anti-Arab racist bombast is to disguise from ourselves this dreadful existential reality. Less rhetoric and more hard policy and action is what is needed.
As always, Israel’s fate is largely in her own hands. But thank goodness she can also count of the majority in the Jewish diaspora and her many courageous non-Jewish friends to support and defend her against her enemies.
The latest wave of Palestinian violence against Jews is something new, an insidious wave of seemingly un-orchestrated attacks, perpetrated by unlikely assailants, and generally untraceable to any particular organization. They were also characterized by brutality, viciousness and randomness, and the purposeful use of the knife, to drive home the intent of bringing a new and unrelenting wave of slaughter to the Jews; a message to all Israelis that neither they, nor their children, will ever be able to live in this land in peace.
As this document will show, the Palestinian president and those under his authority are indeed instructing young Palestinians what to do. Not sending them into battle as soldiers, but goading them into action through deliberate messaging, distortion and fabrication, sometimes stated openly by senior Palestinian officials, but mostly insidiously, aimed at keeping the conflict alive and portraying the Palestinians as the victims in a whitewash of terror.
There is a guiding hand in all this, the Palestinian Authority and the Palestinian faction that leads it, Fatah. What is being witnessed today is the end-game of a strategy adopted by Fatah in 2009 and culminating in Mahmoud Abbas’ speech to the UN General Assembly on September 30, 2015, when he announced that the Palestinians are no longer bound by the Oslo (peace) Accords.
A television broadcast that sends a youth on his/her mission of death is part of a carefully calibrated policy of incitement and cynicism, which has brought the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to a new level, one that generates terror without fingerprints, but which adroitly serves Fatah’s strategy of an endless war of attrition, by varying means, against Israel.
While the current wave of violence has succeeded in placing the Palestinian issue back on the international agenda to some degree, it has lost the Palestinians a valuable asset: the Israeli political center. Israelis have lost trust in the Palestinians and their leaders, even those Israelis who believe that Israel should relinquish the territories as part of a peace agreement between the sides.
No society can live in fear and with anarchy at its doorstep, where suspicion lurks at every turn.
And no society can live with and tolerate the hatred being spewed against them, via social media and other means, with calumnies and lies reminiscent of the dark days that led to even darker days in the not-too-distant past of the Jewish people.
Israel will learn and adapt to this new situation as it has done in the past. The question is whether the Palestinian leadership will do the same and come around to understanding that the monster they have created, a generation of children led to believe in the culture of death, is not in their own best interest.
Israel can control the damage, but only Fatah and the PA can end it, and it is they, the Palestinian leadership, who have to do so if the path to negotiation and conciliation is to be opened again, and this endless and senseless wave of violence extinguished.
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1 Raoul Wootliff, “Videos teach would-be Palestinian attackers ‘how to stab,’” Times of Israel, October 15, 2015, http://www.timesofisrael.com/videos-teach-would-be-palestinian-attackers-how-to-stab/
2 Yoav Zitun, “Eisenkot: IDF searching for every possible solution to tunnel problem,” Ynetnews, February 9, 2016, http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4764074,00.html