Friday was April Fools’ Day. Two days later, I think it is still appropriate to ask who is being fooled. I would say anyone who believes that a quick fix is possible for overcoming the Muslim Arab terrorist violence in Israel.
Please! Read this to the end and share as broadly as possible!
I begin by making an addition to my last posting, an addition that is very relevant to my theme today:
I had technical difficulty in putting up in that posting a selected picture of Amir Khoury, 32, the Christian Arab police officer from Nof Hagalil who lost his life when taking out the terrorist in Bnei Brak. And so I put it up now: for his ultimate sacrifice he deserves full recognition. Chief of Police Kobi Shabtai noted Wednesday night that Khoury’s heroism saved the lives of others who would have been shot by the terrorist. He and his partner sped to the location of the terrorist, and Khoury confronted him directly.
Wrote one resident of Binyamin on his Facebook page: “It’s not obvious that a person engages a killer to protect others; and it is not obvious that an Arab-Christian is willing to pay with his life to protect Jews.” (Emphasis added)
So we salute Khoury and take heart from his bravery. Thousands turned out for his funeral, including many from Bnei Brak.
At this awful time, this story is especially moving. As is this:
A group of tenth graders from the Derech Avot High School of Ohr Torah Stone educational network in Efrat were on their annual outing, headed north, when they realized they were near Kasra-Samia, the village of Yazan Falah, the Israeli Druze Border Police officer killed at age 19 in the terror attack in Hadera. All 80 students chose to pay a condolence call to the family and were greeted warmly.
Yazan’s uncle greeted the students, and said, “There is no doubt that through mourning we are more united, and we are all partners in this national pain…The fact that you chose to divert from your planned trip and insisted on coming to mourn and strengthen us is not something anyone could take for granted.” (Emphasis added)
Since I wrote Wednesday night with regard to the Bnei Brak attack, there was another terror attack. This one on Thursday outside of Neve Daniel, a community of Gush Etzion, in Judea, south of Jerusalem. A terrorist got on a bus headed for Neve Daniel and attacked a passenger with a screw driver, causing him serious injury. He was rushed to the hospital unconscious but regained consciousness Friday.
The terrorist – identified as being from the PA village of Tarqumiyah north of Hevron – was shot dead by another passenger.
Then during the small hours Saturday, a murderous incident was adverted. A cell responsible for previous attacks was on its way to launch an attack — they had put Israeli license plates on their car to avoid immediate detection. But Shabak (Israeli Security) had been tracking one member of this cell who had bragged during a march in Jenin, “Soon you’ll hear about me. I am going to do something very big in Israel.”
The cell was intercepted in Arraba, a PA village near Jenin, by a joint IDF-Shin Bet operation that included forces from the undercover elite Duvdevan unit.
All three of the cell’s members at the site – two from Jenin and one from Tulkarem – were killed. Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) issued a statement claiming them as members of their Al Quds [Jerusalem] Brigade. A fourth member of the cell was apprehended by the IDF in the PA village of Shuweika, near Tulkarem; an M16 assault weapon and ammunition were seized as well.
Four IDF soldiers were injured in the course of the operation: One was wounded critically – a much admired field commander with Yamam, a special counter-terrorism force of the Border Police. Bennett described him as one of the best in Israel. A second was moderately injured; two are in good condition.
Do not remotely imagine that this signals the end of it, however. Observed former COGAT- [Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories] coordinator IDF Lt. Col Alon Eviatar: There is now a desire of every terrorist organization to be prominent in the violent struggle against Israel. If Fatah decides to enter the battle, we will find ourselves in a very problematic situation.”
PIJ, in their statement, declared: “The Zionist enemy committed an aggressive crime against three of our heroic mujahideen [warriors] on the first day of the holy month of Ramadan…As we hold the enemy fully responsible for this crime, we affirm that the blood of our children will not be shed in vain.”
Israeli security forces are working to identify Israeli Arabs with ISIS (Islamic State) connections. As two of the recent terror attacks (in Be’ersheva and Hadera) were carried out by persons having a connection to ISIS, this is of immediate concern. Reportedly a list of some 200 to 300 ISIS supporters in Israel has been drawn up, and some small number has been arrested (different sources provide varying numbers). The Shin Bet, which has already foiled some attacks, is working to prevent other imminent attacks for which they have concrete warnings.
And so, we turn to the painful question of how to understand and effectively counter the serious problem of terrorist violence in Israel, perpetrated both by Palestinian Arabs and Israeli Arab citizens.
I write a good deal about the need to assert our sovereignty; this issue is at the heart of the matter. Those who say we are still fighting our War of Independence are not far wrong.
A reasonable understanding of what is happening now requires a look backward.
In 1948, the Muslim Arab world, with scant exception, was unwilling to accept the founding of modern Israel: the Jews, they believed, had established their state on sacred Muslim land. Determined to promptly eradicate the Jewish State, which was seen as an affront, a number of Arab states initiated the War of Independence – but they failed in their goal.
In subsequent years, Muslim Arab nations, fewer in number, tried again, more than once, but failed each time to bring Israel down. Those military failures, however, did not lead to an acceptance of Israel’s place in the Middle East. Muslim Arab states don’t readily acknowledge defeat and the goal of eliminating Israel continued to be nurtured in many quarters.
It has been a slow and difficult process. But today, in many ways Israel is in a better place than ever, and there is solid reason for optimism down the road if we handle ourselves properly.
For some time now it has not been the case that most Arabs believe it is their religious duty to eliminate Israel. There have been peace treaties: with Egypt in 1979 (pictured), and with Jordan in 1994. It was a cold peace in each instance, but the treaties have held in spite of anti-Israel sentiment within each country. Today there is movement towards warming – especially with Egypt.
And today we have the incredible progress fostered by the Abraham Accords, which I will get to in my next posting. We see Israel as a major, recognized player in the region.
HOWEVER – and this should not be forgotten for a second – there is still an Islamist spirit alive in this world. The spirit of those radical jihadi groups that believe it is their religious duty to destroy Israel.
There is, of course, Iran. But then there are Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad, both of which Iran supports and encourages. And there is ISIS (Islamic State). All continue to believe that elimination of Israel is a religious duty, and they act on behalf of that ideology when they can. (Iran operates via its proxies.) Their goal is establishment of a Caliphate in the Middle East.
The Islamists do not imagine that one attack will squash Israel. But they carry on with that goal of destroying Israel, primarily for religious and not nationalist reasons. This point is hugely important. Some imagine that the motivation is “nationalist” and that giving the Palestinian Arabs a state would bring quiet. Nothing could be further from the truth.
“The ISIS weekly publication A-Naba’ published a centerfold article overnight Friday titled, ‘Our campaign against the Jews – a pure Islamic campaign’ in which it was clarified that the organization spares no effort to kill Jews and to recruit units that strive for this goal…
“The article criticized the ‘Palestinian factions that receive funding from Iran’ who tried to claim that the attack was carried out for purely nationalistic motives…
“ISIS, the article argues, is working to correct this great mistake that generations after generations have inherited: ‘Our campaign against the Jews is a purely ideological Islamic campaign. The legitimacy on which caliphate soldiers rely in all their wars is the legitimacy of the Holy Scriptures and the Sunnah (the traditions and practices of the prophet Muhammad Muslims follow)…
“Finally, the article calls on ‘young people in Palestine and its environs’ to dust themselves off, come out of their stagnation and the loss of their way and correct the path of their faith as they exchange the shackles of nationalism for the wealth of Islam: ‘They must know that the solution is not just the fight, but the pure fight for Allah.’”
This leads us to focus a light on the Palestinian Authority which claims that its fight is nationalistic, I.e., to secure a state of Palestine, ostensibly in Judaea & Samaria. That it endorses and encourages violence against Jews is incontrovertible: we see the “pay-for-slay” practice, and the incitement. The claim that is promoted is that this is justified “resistance” against the “occupation.”
But I will say here that anyone who believes that the Palestinian Authority would be content with a state only in Judea & Samaria is severely deluded. An examination of evidence presented by Palestinian Media Watch makes it imminently clear that the PA seeks ALL of Israel for a state. It is evidenced in its TV broadcasts, its educational textbooks, its maps, and statements by its leaders.
And then, as well, the PA, which is supposedly nationalistic, also draws upon religious rationale. Here we see what the PA Mufti Muhammad Hussein declared in a fatwa (a religious proclamation) on PA TV just six months ago: “The injustice will certainly pass and the occupation (i.e., Israel) will pass…Jerusalem will certainly be liberated and return to the embrace of Islam, noble and strong with its holy sites and its people, and the evil will pass, Almighty Allah willing.” (Emphasis added)
In the end, the claim of the Palestinian Arabs to Jerusalem is religious, not simply political.
This leads us to the matter of Israeli Arabs who participate in terrorist acts. This is an intensely painful matter for most Israelis. We are struggling. I myself – and I move in right-wing circles – do not know of anyone who has adopted the position that all Israeli Arabs must be banished because of the acts of some. But what weighs upon us – and perhaps one must live with this to truly understand it – is the question of who can be trusted, and who will turn on us. More and more there is the feeling that those who cannot be loyal Israelis do not deserve a pass.
I would like to recommend that my readers read what I had written about this issue on my website. It is too complex to deal with fully in this posting:
But in short: the Arabs of Israel (i.e., citizens) are increasingly radicalized, and identifying in greater proportion as “Palestinian Arabs” rather than “Israeli Arabs.”
Dr. Rafael Israeli, professor emeritus of Hebrew University, maintains that many Arabs who seemed to be loyal citizens were practicing “quietude” not rocking the boat, never violent, but not truly accepting Israeli identity. I am not suggesting, nor did the professor, that all of these Arabs are now prepared to be terrorists. Absolutely not. But the inner conflict regarding identity is deep, perhaps rendering Arabs in Israel vulnerable to calls for violence.
As to what Islamist influences turn Israeli Arabs to terrorism, I will mention two. The first is Hamas, which seeks to challenge Arabs in Israel to show their “loyalty” to Allah. Sometimes they are successful. That is, not only with regard to becoming terrorists, but more broadly. On the last Friday of Ramadan, a year ago, when tens of thousands were on the Temple Mount for prayers, some were seen waving Hamas flags, while the crowd shouted, “We are all Hamas, waiting for your orders commander Mohammed Deif. Hamas — shoot a rocket at Tel Aviv tonight.”
And then there is another Islamist influence I have not yet mentioned: The Islamic Movement of Israel. Originally there were Northern and Southern branches, but the Northern, which was more radical, was outlawed. This means it works under the radar. It is very active in the Negev, radicalizing Bedouin.
But Dr. Moti Kedar, with whom I have discussed this, maintains that the Southern branch is more dangerous because it presents a deceptive veneer of moderation. Ra’am, the political arm of the Southern branch, is in the government. That an anti-Zionist group should be wielding influence and modeling political stances for the Arabs of Israel via the government is unacceptable.
The Islamic Movement charter that guides Ra’am says (emphasis added):
“…there can be no allegiance” to Israel: The State of Israel was born of the racist, occupying Zionist project; iniquitous Western and British imperialism; and the debasement and feebleness of the Arab and Islamic [nations]. We do not absolve ourselves, the Palestinian people, of our responsibility and our failure to confront this project.”
Note that the charter refers to “ourselves, the Palestinian people.”
The government at present is doing a great deal that is right with regard to putting down the terrorism: collecting illegal guns, putting more police on the street, tracking potential terrorists, etc. etc. But all of this is a band-aide – a quick fix that addresses the immediate threat of further attacks.
However, at a deeper level there is a governmental malaise that is disturbing. Our purported leaders are demonstrating a weakness that sends precisely the wrong message. Islamists are encouraged by signs that Israel is weakening from within, that attacking the state is a productive act, ideologically.
What is most likely to discourage those who would do us in is a message that there is no chance in hell, ever, that we will collapse or surrender any part of our land. That we will build, defend our prerogatives, and take action against those who conduct themselves illegally in our land. That we take pride in our Jewish state and stand on our rights according to international law.
It has to be a slow process; it would not bring overnight changes. But this is the message that it is very necessary to deliver, and, damn it, we are not delivering it. The PA builds thousands of illegal structures in Area C that remain standing, while building in Jewish areas of Judea & Samaria are slowed down. Does the government not realize that the Islamists are watching this?
I will continue to track on this theme in coming postings. There are many aspects and many significant ramifications.