|(Photo by Majdi Fathi/NurPhoto) --- |
Image by © Majdi Fathi/NurPhoto/Corbis
25 November '15..
After two months of incessant attacks on Israeli civilians that have taken a mounting toll of lives, Prime Minister Netanyahu announced on Monday that he would order steps to limit the ability of Palestinians to slaughter Jews. Separate bypass roads would be created for Jews in the West Bank that would separate traffic and make it harder for Palestinians terrorists to treat traffic jams at road junctions as a killing ground. Inspections of Palestinian cars on those roads will continue. To deter terrorists, the government will also revoke permission for family members of killers to work in Israel. In other words, the terror surge has not only accomplished nothing for the Palestinians but is leading to measures that will make their lives harder. Which means the Palestinian Authority, which has helped incite this madness in which their people have gone out to stab, shoot and firebomb any Jew they can get near, has gotten its wish.
Much like their Hamas rivals, who triggered the 50-day war with Israel by launching terror raids and then raining down thousands of rockets on Israeli cities, towns and villages, the PA is actually quite pleased with the results of its campaign of incitement.
The same international public opinion that has viewed the stabbing intifada with indifference will now quickly go into overdrive denouncing Netanyahu’s moves. We’ll hear a lot about “apartheid roads” — a term used in the New York Times story about the announcement. The checkpoints to stop potential terrorists will be termed a deliberate attempt to harrass and humiliate proud and peaceful Palestinians who only want a state of their own. The crimes of those Palestinians who use knives to kill any Jew in sight will be rationalized as the product of their frustration with the lack of peace and an understandable protest against the oppression of occupation.
Hamas deliberately sought to maximize the casualties suffered by the people of Gaza by stationing its rockets and fighters in the midst of built-up urban areas. Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah Party may complain about Israeli measures of self-defense, but they give the PA more talking points to further Israel’s isolation.
The stabbing intifada, just like the Hamas war of 2014, is yet another stark reminder that the blithe talk about Israel needing to make more concessions to give peace a chance is utter rubbish. The Palestinians have not only consistently rejected Jewish peace offers since before the creation of the State of Israel, they are again demonstrating they have no compunction about sacrificing the lives as well as the prosperity and the dignity of their people in order to keep fighting a pointless war to eradicate Israel—a war they can never win.
It’s important to understand that the current terrorist surge was the creation of a cynical Palestinian leadership that, following the same playbook the produced anti-Jewish pogroms in 1920, 1929 and 1936, broadcast canards about the Jews wanting to harm the mosques on the Temple Mount. Indeed, Abbas continues to double down on these lies about the Temple Mount and claim that Israel is “executing” innocent Palestinians, i.e., the ones who attempt to kill Jews they meet on the streets. Rather than heeding the pleas of a sympathetic Obama administration to calm things down so that another shot at peace might be possible, the PA believes it is in its interests to keep the blood flowing.
Why? Because, as counter-productive as this policy may be for their own people, the PA is playing a long game. Abbas, who admitted again last week that he turned down an Israeli offer of a Palestinian state in almost all of the West Bank, a share of Jerusalem, and Gaza in 2008, has no interest in negotiations. He knows the very thing Daniel Polisar discovered in his study of Palestinian public opinion: The overwhelming majority of Palestinians don’t believe Israel has a right to exist and strongly approve of violence against Jews.
Israel’s foreign critics who endorse boycotts (like rocker Roger Waters, who has stepped up his advocacy for an economic and cultural war on the Jewish state) don’t care about Jewish casualties and are always prepared to believe that any measure of self-defense is an overreaction. The narrative of Palestinian powerlessness and victimhood isn’t just something Abbas and Hamas exploit; they do their best to make sure that things get worse to make the case against Israel stronger.
That leaves Israel and its friends wondering how to cope with this dilemma. If they act to make it more difficult for Palestinians to kill Jews, they’ll be accused of apartheid-like oppression. If they do nothing, or, as the Obama administration continues to urge, to freeze building in settlements or take measures to loosen security in order to “build confidence,” they’ll not only have rewarded the Palestinians for murder but will make it easier for the campaign of violence to continue and escalate.
For many on the left, the answer is obvious. They believe tough security measures are “counter-productive” and sow the seeds for more terrorism. They also believe it is in Israel’s interest to leave the territories so as to separate the two peoples and preserve Israeli democracy.
But such a response would be deeply wrong-headed. The first obligation of any government is to defend the safety of its people. While no security measure is foolproof, Israel must do whatever it can to make it harder for these individual acts of terror to take place. And Israel’s leaders must make it clear to the Palestinians that Jewish blood is not to be spilled with impunity.
As for separating the two peoples, in principle that is something most Israelis would applaud. But in practice, the overwhelming majority knows it is impractical even if there were no West Bank settlements. A unilateral withdrawal from the West Bank would only create another larger and more dangerous version of the Gaza terrorist state created by Ariel Sharon’s 2005 pullout from the strip. Withdrawing the settlers while keeping troops to ensure security would do nothing to improve Israel’s diplomatic standing or image, since its critics would say the occupation continues. And the surrender of settlements without a real peace agreement that compels the Palestinians to recognize the legitimacy of a Jewish state will, as it did in Gaza, only whet their appetite for more Israeli retreats.
Thus, Netanyahu has no choice but to do what he must, even if means bringing down more abuse from Israel’s enemies. That’s why this is a moment when those who claim to be Israel’s friends must stop acting as if they were its judges and start behaving like its allies. Whether you are right or left, whether you like Netanyahu or despise him, those who believe Jews have a right to live in peace and security must support Israel’s efforts to prevent more bloodshed. As it has for the last 67 years as its people have waited for and prayed for peace, Israeli democracy will continue to thrive. Israel can afford to wait until a sea change in Palestinian political culture will make peace possible because there is no rational alternative to such patience.
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