A husband and wife gunned down in front of their four children. A family stabbed in the Old City after worshipping at the Western Wall. A Jewish teen stabbed by teenage terrorists as he rode his bike in a Jerusalem neighbourhood.
At time of writing, seven Israelis have been murdered in street attacks, mostly in Jerusalem, since the beginning of Rosh Hashanah. More than two dozen Palestinians, including 11 terrorists and eight children, have died in the resulting security crackdowns.
Are these merely “lone-wolf” attacks? Signs of a “terrorism epidemic”? Or the beginning of the Third Intifada?
My crystal ball is in the shop, and even Israel’s political leaders and top security experts disagree on what this latest wave of violence portends.
But, as sudden as these attacks may seem, they are the result of systematic incitement by Palestinian leaders, including the man who bills himself as Mr. Moderate – Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas.
And the incitement is based on the myth that Israel is about to take over or destroy the Dome of the Rock, a Muslim holy site that is also the site of the First and Second Temples.
That there is no evidence to support this myth – Jews are allowed to visit there, but not pray, during certain hours – hasn’t stopped the violence.
Haaretz has reported that the Shin Bet security service insists that Abbas is not encouraging terrorism, “and is even instructing his security forces to prevent terror attacks as much as possible.”
They must not be doing their homework, because Abbas’s attacks on Israel and glorification of terrorist violence in recent weeks have been blatant and unabashed.
Palestinian Media Watch (PMW) – www.palwatch.org – has for years documented the ways in which the PA leadership and the official media – controlled by Abbas – have systematically delegitimized Israel’s existence and encouraged violence and hatred against Jews.
Despite its claims of poverty, every year, the PA pays more than $100 million to terrorists imprisoned in Israeli jails. Their salaries are four to seven times the average PA salary – the more lethal the attack, the higher the blood money.
And Abbas is diligent about visiting the families of terrorist “martyrs” and praising the killers’ actions.
But, because the United States and Europe, as well as the mainstream Western media, need a hero and a villain for their narratives to make sense, Abbas has consistently escaped widespread criticism because he’s seen as a better alternative to Hamas.
Even worse, the former right-hand man to uber-terrorist Yasser Arafat gets to play statesman at the United Nations (UN), abandoning any pretense at peace talks in his quest to establish a Palestinian state through an international body that continually attacks Israel but turns a blind eye to dictators and human rights abusers in other member countries.
In his September 30 speech at the UN, Abbas directly attacked Israel for allowing “extremist groups” to commit “repeated, systematic incursions upon Al-Aqsa Mosque.”
Two weeks earlier, he announced in Ramallah that both Al-Aqsa and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, a hallowed Christian site, belong to the Palestinians, and that Jews “have no right to desecrate them with their filthy feet.”
By praising those who harassed Jews at the Temple Mount, he tacitly encouraged future violence:
“Each drop of blood that was spilled in Jerusalem is pure blood as long as it’s for the sake of Allah. Every shahid (martyr) will be in heaven and every wounded person will be rewarded, by Allah’s will.”
Senior Palestinian officials have said that killing Israeli settlers is “legitimate and legal,” and the October 1 murders of Na’ama and Eitan Henkin in front of their four children was a “national duty” (PMW website http://tinyurl.com/pkyo5ux).
Boaz Ganor, founder and executive director of the International Policy Institute for Counter-Terrorism, calls the latest wave of attacks a “terrorist epidemic” that should dissipate now that Abbas is supposedly taking measures against it.
He wrote in the Jerusalem Post that these attacks could be followed by “a more deadly wave of terrorism (suicide attacks or rockets)” if Abbas doesn’t stop the incitement and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu doesn’t come forward with a “new and sincere political initiative” to revive the peace process.
But Abbas may have unleashed more than he can handle, and the odds of Israel’s restarting the peace process are slim to none while terrorism persists.
Now that the genie of hatred has been released once again from the bottle of ignorance and fear, it will take tremendous political courage to find the stopper.