Responding to the slaughter
What we are seeing in Jerusalem today is not simply Palestinian terrorism. It is Islamic jihad. No one likes to admit it. The television reporters insist that this is the worst possible scenario because there is no way to placate it. There is no way to reason with it.
So what else is new?
The horrible truth is that all of the anti-Jewish slaughters perpetrated by our Arab neighbors have been motivated to greater or lesser degrees by Islamic Jew-hatred. The only difference between the past hundred years and now is that today our appeasement-oriented elite is finding it harder to pretend away the obvious fact that we cannot placate our enemies.
No “provocation” by Jews drove two Jerusalem Arabs to pick up meat cleavers and a rifle and slaughter rabbis in worship like sheep and then mutilate their bodies.
No “frustration” with a “lack of progress” in the “peace process,” can motivate people to run over Jewish babies or attempt to assassinate a Jewish civil rights activist.
The reason that these terrorists have decided to kill Jews is that they take offense at the fact that in Israel, Jews are free. They take offense because all their lives they have been taught that Jews should live at their mercy, or die by their sword.
They do so because they believe, as former Jordanian MP Ya’qub Qarash said on Palestinian television last week, that Christians and Muslims should work together to forbid the presence of Jews in “Palestine” and guarantee that “not a single Jew will remain in Jerusalem.”
Our neighbors are taught that Muhammad, the founder of Islam, signed the treaty of Hudaybiyah in 628 as a ploy to buy time during which he would change the balance of power between his army and the Jews of Kuraish. And 10 years later, once his army gained the upper hand, he annihilated the Jews.
Throughout the 130-year history of modern Zionism, Islamic Jew-hatred has been restrained by two forces: the desire of many Arabs to live at peace with their Jewish neighbors; and the ability of Israeli authorities and before them, British authorities, to deter the local Arab Muslims from attacking.
The monopoly on Arab Muslim leadership has always belonged to the intolerant bigots. Support for coexistence has always been the choice of individuals.
Haj Amin el-Husseini’s first act as the founder of the Palestinian Arab identity was to translate The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, and serialize them in the local press.
During the Arab jihad of 1936-1939, Husseini’s gangs of murderers killed more Arabs than the British did. He targeted those who sought peaceful coexistence with the Jews.
His successor Yasser Arafat followed his example.
During the 1988-1991 Palestinian uprising, the PLO killed more Palestinians than the IDF did. Like Husseini, Arafat targeted Palestinians who worked with Israel.
Since Israel imprudently embraced Arafat and the PLO in 1993 and permitted them to govern the Palestinians in Judea, Samaria and Gaza, and exert direct influence and coercive power over the Arabs of Jerusalem, the Palestinian Authority’s governing institutions have used all the tools at their disposal to silence those who support peaceful coexistence with Israel, and indoctrinate the general public in Islamic and racial Jew-hatred.
Much has been made of the recent spike in incitement of violence by Palestinian leaders led by Arafat’s successor Mahmoud Abbas. But the flames Abbas and his comrades are throwing would not cause such conflagrations if they hadn’t already indoctrinated their audience to desire the destruction of the Jews.
You cannot solicit murder among those who haven’t been taught that committing murder is an act of heroism.
Today Israel must take swift, effective action to stop the slaughter. The damage that has been done to the psyches of the Arabs of Jerusalem and their brethren in Judea, Samaria and Gaza, cannot be repaired in a timeline relevant to the task of preventing the next massacre.
This means that for the time being, on the tactical level, Israel’s only play is strengthening its deterrence.
Israel faces two major constraints in meeting this challenge.
First, the European Union and the Obama administration, as well as the US foreign policy elite, are obsessively committed to a policy of empowering the Palestinians against Israel.
The Spanish parliament’s decision to go ahead with its planned vote to recognize the “State of Palestine,” just hours after the massacre at the Bnei Torah Kehillat Yaakov synagogue in Jerusalem’s Har Nof neighborhood shows that the EU’s dedication to strengthening the Palestinians against Israel is entirely unrelated to events on the ground.
They don’t care who the Palestinians are or what they do. For their own reasons they have made supporting the Palestinians at Israel’s expense their top foreign policy priority.
Similarly, US President Barack Obama couldn’t contain his compulsion to pressure Israel even in his statement condemning the massacre. Even there, Obama called on Israelis and Palestinians equally to restrain themselves.
Obama’s unabated hostility toward Israel was brought to bear on Tuesday afternoon when the State Department restated its rejection of Jewish property rights in Jerusalem and its desire to see the homes of terrorist murderers left intact for the welfare of their terror-supporting families.
On Tuesday, Israel’s social media outlets were filled with angry rebukes of Western media outlets from CNN to MSNBC to CBS, to the BBC. All these networks, and many others, did everything in their power to explain away the synagogue slaughter as just another instance of a cycle of violence. That is, they all sought to frame the discussion in a way that would lead their viewers to the conclusion that the slaughter of praying rabbis was justified.
While appalling, the coverage was not the least surprising. The Western elite media’s devotion to their false narrative of Israeli culpability for all the problems in the region is absolute. Networks would rather wreck their professional reputations than tell the truth.
Together with the EU, the American policy elite and the Obama administration, the media place Israel’s leaders in a bind. Every step they take to defend the country and protect the rights of Jews meets with automatic and libelous condemnation.
The other impediment Israel faces in deterring anti-Jewish violence against its citizenry is its own weakness. Since the inception of the phony peace process, Israel has continuously rewarded the Palestinians for their murderous violence against its citizenry.
From Israel’s transfer of control over all the Palestinian population centers in Judea and Samaria, to its forcible expulsion of its own people from Gaza, to its repeated releases of terrorists from prison, to its continued transfer of hundreds of millions of shekels in tax revenues to the PA, Israel has showed the Palestinians at every turn that far from being punished for murdering Jews, they will be rewarded for doing so.
Given the US and European support for the Palestinians, Israeli declarations that there will be no future releases of terrorists have no credibility. If terrorists aren’t killed on the spot, they can assume that they will eventually be released; if not in exchange for an Israeli hostage, Israel will release them in an attempt to placate the White House.
But even with these constraints on its actions, Israel can take steps to deter its hate-filled enemies from attacking.
Since the current campaign of murder is being carried out by terrorists largely acting on their own accord, the measures Israel adopts to stop the attacks should be directed primarily against individual terrorists. As for action against the PA, it needs to be credible, consistent and directed to where it will hurt Palestinian leaders the most: their wallets.
With regard to the individual terrorists, the government has made much of its intention to destroy the homes of terrorists. While it sounds good, there is limited evidence of the effectiveness of this punitive measure, which is a relic of the British Mandate.
Rather than destroy their homes, Israel should adopt the US anti-narcotics policy of asset seizure.
All assets directly or indirectly tied to terrorists, including their homes and any other structure where they planned their crimes, and all remittances to them, should be seized and transferred to their victims, to do with what they will.
If Israel hands over the homes of the synagogue butchers to the 24 orphans of Rabbi Moshe Twersky, Rabbi Kalman Levine, Rabbi Aryeh Kupinsky and Rabbi Avraham Goldberg, not only will justice be served. The children’s inheritance of the homes of their fathers’ killers will send a clear and demoralizing message to other would-be killers.
Not only will their atrocities fail to remove the Jews from Israel. Every terrorist will contribute to the Zionist project by donating his home to the Jewish settlement enterprise.
Just as Israel has repeatedly buckled under US pressure to release terrorists from jail, so it has bowed to US pressure to continue to fund the PA by transferring the tax revenues it collects on goods imported to the PA.
Assuming that the government is too weak to stand up to the Americans, at a minimum it can see that the money is properly used.
To that end, the Knesset should pass a law permitting Israeli terror victims to sue the PA for actual and punitive damages in Israel courts. The sums awarded to the victims should be taken from the tax revenues Israel collects for the PA. The law should apply retroactively to all victims of Palestinian terror carried out since the establishment of the PA in May 1994.
Not only should the law permit Israeli terror victims to sue the PA. It should dictate actions the Justice Ministry must take to assist them in bringing suit.
Israel should also revoke citizenship and residency rights not only from terrorists themselves, but from those who enjoy citizenship and residency rights by dint of their relationship with the terrorists.
Wives who received Israeli residency or citizenship rights though marriage to terrorists should have their rights revoked, as should the children of the terrorists.
Since Tuesday’s massacre, aside from Abbas’s phony condemnation, the Palestinian leadership and public from Fatah to Hamas have been unanimous in their praise for the atrocity.
Today Israel is powerless to influence the hearts of our Arab neighbors. But we can influence their minds. We can deter them from attacking us.
The actions set forth above: asset seizure, revenue seizure and citizenship/residency abrogation for terrorists and their dependents are steps that Israel can take today, despite the hostile international climate.
If the government and Knesset adopt these measures, they will rectify some of the damage Israel has inflicted on itself by showing the Palestinians over two decades that they will be rewarded for their aggression.
If our leaders fail to take these or similar actions, and suffice with complaining about incitement, their condemnations of the murder of Jews will ring as hollow as those sounded by the BBC, Obama and Abbas.