I have found myself pondering this mystery a good deal lately:
We Israelis are a good people. I cited Alan Dershowitz in this regard recently:
“No country in the history of the world ever contributed more to the welfare of humankind in such a short period of time than Israel.”
We are responsible for a vast number of technological and medical advancements that benefit the world. We rush to lend assistance in times of emergency in other lands. We receive people from abroad who require medical assistance into our hospitals, even sometimes from nations that are enemies. We wage our wars with exquisite attention to avoiding civilian casualties whenever possible.
Yet with it all, we are frequently vilified, and on the receiving end of hostilities. Judgements are rendered against us. Sometimes our very right to exist as a sovereign state is challenged.
The “two-state solution” is a prime example of what we contend with. It obvious on the face of it that the PA – with its support of terrorism, its incitement, its colossal corruption and lack of human rights, its proclivity for outrageous lying, its open declaration of the right to “all” of Palestine (and all of the Temple Mount) – is not a candidate for statehood and will never live in peace with Israel. And yet, the notion is shoved down our throats again and again, informing so many diplomatic interactions. The fact that international law clearly states that this land is ours is ignored, as we are charged with being “occupiers” and perpetrators of “war crimes.”
Now 14 European states – all but one, members of the EU – have put out a statement demanding that Israel not build 4,000 new homes in Judaea & Samaria, as had been announced. Says the statement, the settlements are “In clear violation of international law.”
But this is unmitigated nonsense. All building by Israel in Judea and Samaria is done in Area C, which – leaving aside the Mandate for the moment – was designated by the Oslo Accords, signed by the PLO and witnessed by the US, as being under the complete control of Israel. Nothing in the Oslo Accords prohibits Jewish building in that area.
And so, for the thousandth time we see bias against Israel that conveniently ignores facts.
This bias points to an endemic, underlying hostility to Israel, the Jewish State.
Thus does the impulse arise in me from time to time to ask why this should be so. But that is silly. In the end I recognize that there is no understanding it, or put differently, there are a hundred answers, none of which satisfy. My question is rhetorical.
My friends, my family, remind me that it has always been thus in our history, and that there is warning of this from our Torah. Israel often stands alone.
So be it. Let us not make the mistake of thinking that making concessions or assuming an apologetic stance is the way to deal with this. Heads high!
Let us consider, then, the funeral of Shireen Abu Akleh, which took place on Friday and has caused a considerable international uproar.
The story that is causing widespread upset has it that the Israel Police beat mourners at the funeral. Unfortunately it might appear that way in some videos, if the context is missing.
Please see the English statement released by the Israel Police spokesperson:
“Plans for the funeral procession of Shireen Abu-Akleh were coordinated in advance by the Israel Police together with the Abu-Akleh family.
“On Friday, about 300 rioters arrived at Saint Joseph hospital in Jerusalem and prevented the family members from loading the coffin onto the hearse to travel to the cemetery – as had been planned and coordinated with the family in advance. Instead, the mob threatened the driver of the hearse and then proceeded to carry the coffin on an unplanned procession to the cemetery by foot.
“This went against the wishes of the Abu-Akleh family and the security coordinations that had been planned to safeguard the large number of mourners. The Israel Police instructed that the coffin be returned to the hearse, as did the EU ambassador and Shireen Abu-Akleh’s own family, but the mob refused.
“Israeli Police intervened to disperse the mob and prevent them from taking the coffin, so that the funeral could proceed as planned in accordance with the wishes of the family.
“During the riot that was instigated by the mob, glass bottles and other objects were thrown, resulting in the injury of both mourners and Police officers.” (All emphasis added)
The Washington Post report supported the police statement:
“But a group of men in the crowd prevented a hearse from backing up to the hospital door, saying they were intent on carrying her body on their shoulders. The standoff eventually prompted Akleh’s brother…to beseech the crowd to let the hearse through. ‘For God’s sake, let us put her in the car and finish the day,’ he said.” (Emphasis added)
At various points along the route of the procession with the coffin, Israeli flags were torn down. And during the services in the Cathedral of the Annunciation of the Virgin in eastern Jerusalem prior to interment, there were calls of “Let the olive branch fall and take up the rifle.”
Regardless of charges from international sources, it was not genuine mourners that the police were seeking to control: It was Palestinian Arabs who were seizing the opportunity to make a political statement, complete with the waving of PLO flags, in a spirit that was neither respectful of the deceased nor indicative of true mourning. This is not an uncommon occurrence with Palestinian Arab funerals, particularly those of terrorists. In this case it was the funeral of a journalist who had been sympathetic to their position that was co-opted.
Abu Akleh was being termed a “martyr,” when in fact there is good indication that it may have been the bullet of an Arab rioter and not the IDF that killed her. The PA still refuses to participate in a joint investigation. Why should they when numerous media sources readily embrace their version of events? The PA is using her death as PR to good effect:
Dr. Edy Cohen , a prominent Arab affairs commentator and professor at Bar-Ilan University’s Begin-Sadat Center, says that Abu Akleh’s killing is a powerful PR tool for the Palestinians….This was an invaluable opportunity for them to further their narrative, especially as Arab countries have warmed to Israel and international humanitarian aid has focused on Ukraine.
“Dozens of journalists have died in Yemen, in Iraq, in Syria in recent years, but this journalist’s death has become a symbol for the Palestinians, who say ‘the Occupation killed her, because she was a truth-teller.’ And that’s the conversation on social media, that Israel intentionally targeted her.”
Perhaps most troubling of all is the assessment of Maor Tzemach, chair of the Your Jerusalem NGO, who said that the Palestinian Authority was seizing upon Abu Akleh’s death as a tool to both gain international security and whip up anti-Israel sentiment among Arabs with Israeli citizenship. (Emphasis added here and above)
I think it is relevant here that Abu Akleh was Christian, and that her body was to be brought to a Christian cemetery on Mt. Zion. There was an attempt by police, as I understood it from sources, to allow the Christian mourners an opportunity to proceed according to their practices. I have read that when a mob carried Abu Akleh’s body out of Jenin after she was shot, they placed a hijab of sorts over her head (they used a keffiyah) although she had not covered her hair. They were already making her something she was not.
I share this statement by a police official made before the funeral:
“A police official told the Kan public broadcaster that every effort is being made to ensure the funeral proceeds without interruptions.
“’The whole world is looking at us and at this event,’ the official was quoted as saying. ‘The goal is to prevent as much as possible any friction.’”
But the rioters were out to cause friction. How do people seize a coffin and refuse to return it to a hearse? These were not “mourners.”
Yisrael Medad shared on Twitter video footage from Kan News of the “funeral procession.” “Quick,” he wrote, “Do you see a nationalist rally or the funeral of a journalist?”
Please see it for yourself:
do you see a nationalist rally
a funeral of a journalist? https://t.co/jsylQUMPKQ
— Yisrael Medad (@ymedad) May 13, 2022
This sort of rally, replete with dozens and dozens of PLO flags, is not permitted in Jerusalem. I watched one video of the flag-waving procession being shown by a source sympathetic to the PLO. A voice over commentator said, (I paraphrase), that “Jews think Jerusalem belongs to them. But look at these crowds! Jerusalem is ours.”
No, no, no! Never. But that is what they were about, and Abu Akleh’s funeral simply provided the opportunity for them to flex their muscles.
We have not heard the last on this. The EU has condemned Israel regarding the funeral, as has the UN. In response to pressure, Public Security Minister Omer Bar-Lev – who is a first class fool in my book – is calling for a police investigation. There is resentment amongst many in the police because he has failed to back them sufficiently. Bar-Lev’s style is appeasement.
If the police made any error at all, as I see it, it was in not sufficiently anticipating what they were going to be up against. There were 10,000 people out on the streets. I have heard that the Abu Akleh family broke their agreement with the police (apparently changing their story after the fact, likely under great pressure), and I will follow through if more information comes to my attention.
On this subject, see an excellent piece by Ronn Torossian (emphasis added):
“For a very very long time, I thought Israel’s Public Relations problems were a major problem for the State of Israel. Having founded one of the largest PR agencies in the United States, I am well aware of the power of the media. As I get older, I realize many in the media simply don’t care about the truth…
“It’s very simple – Israel is right to protect herself. Israel is right to insist that people follow the rules. Israel is right to ensure that thousands of Palestinian Arabs intent on violence are stopped. And Israel is right to protect the casket of a dead journalist.
“Simply, Zionist ideologue Ze’ev Jabotinsky had it right in 1911 in his essay ‘Go To Hell.’
“As Jabotinsky noted in 1911, ‘Instead of excessive apology – as there is nothing to apologize for, and nobody to apologize to – it is long overdue to respond to all current and future accusations, reproaches, suspicions, slanders and denunciations by simply folding our arms and loudly, clearly, coldly and calmly answer, “Go to Hell!”
“’Who are we, to make excuses to them; who are they to interrogate us? What is the purpose of this mock trial over the entire people where the sentence is known in advance? Our habit of constantly and zealously answering to any rabble has already done us a lot of harm and will do much more.’
“…We think that our constant readiness to undergo a search without hesitation and to turn out our pockets will eventually convince mankind of our nobility; look what gentlemen we are–we do not have anything to hide! This is a terrible mistake…
“We are hated not because we are blamed for everything, but we are blamed for everything because we are not loved. We do not have to apologize for anything…”
I see this terrible need many Israelis have to apologize and attempt to appease the international community as a holdover of galut mentality: The 2,000 years during which we survived, without power, by appeasing.
It is time for us to wear our sovereignty with pride. And to be governed by people who have learned this lesson.