Even as Israel sent its forces in a house-to-house search for the three missing teenagers Eyal Yifrah, Gil-Ad Shaer and Naftali Fraenkel, critical Palestinian and foreign voices were heard condemning Israel for imposing “collective punishment” on Palestinian society. Was this criticism justified? Or was it part of a Palestinian narrative designed to gain global sympathy, even as horrendous crimes are committed against innocent Israelis, including youngsters and even infants? As IDF, police and intelligence units probed Arab towns and villages in and around Hebron, acting on scant information, they were obstructed and hindered by the collective will and actions of local Palestinian residents.
Collectively, they refused to offer any information that would help lead Israel to the kidnappers or to the location of the boys. Collectively, local Palestinians, and those in Gaza, celebrated the abduction and disappearance of the boys. Collectively, they complained about the efforts that were made to find the boys. Collectively, they interfered with attempts to bring the perpetrators to justice.
Let’s be honest. This was a collective crime carried out at the instruction of Hamas, spurred on by the daily incitement to hatred of Jews and celebration of terrorists by both the Palestinian Authority and Hamas in their official media outlets and official events. The PA names squares and streets after Palestinian murderers of Israelis. Hamas’s charter calls for the killing of all Jews. It calls for the destruction of Israel.
The Palestinian Authority has also been complicit. It glorifies the murderers of innocents. When such murderers are caught and imprisoned by Israel, it pays them salaries in excess of those paid to its own civil servants.
It pumps out the vision of a Palestinian world without the Jewish state.
This narrative is confirmed regularly by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas with his utterances of a Palestinian state free of Jews.
Top down, bottom up or vice versa, Palestinian society is suffused with Jew hatred. It is a reflection of a wider Arab phenomenon. Abbas has broad and popular support for deeds such as the recent kidnappings. Even if he knew nothing about the plot, the atmosphere in which it occurred had been created by him. Such grotesque incidents were collectively supported by rank-and-file Palestinian Arabs. They even blamed Israel for such evil acts, thereby deflecting their responsibility for such inhuman and unacceptable behavior.
This was a collective Palestinian crime. The organizers and perpetrators of this terrorist act may be few in number, but we witnessed an outpouring of collective support from the bulk of Palestinian society and from the Palestinian elite.
Bari Atwan, a regular anti-Israel BBC talking head, when asked by Jon Sopel if he would condemn the murders of the three Israeli teenagers by Hamas, replied that it had not been proven to have been committed by Hamas, and Hamas had not admitted responsibility. When pressed further by Sopel, who asked if Atwan would condemn the murders if it were proven that Hamas was responsible, this Hamas apologist stubbornly said, “No!” before going on a rant about “excessive crimes committed by Israel” to divert attention away from this very relevant question.
This echoed a Palestinian blogger on Sky News who also filled his air time with the usual Palestinian narrative of “Israeli international crimes” and the “Israeli injustices,” leaving no time to answer questions of Palestinian terrorist crimes against Israeli teenagers.
This is how individually, and collectively, Palestinians and their supporters condone the uncondonable. They cannot bring themselves to express any reasonable remorse for the abduction and slaughter of three innocent Jewish boys, reasonable remorse for Palestinian terrorist crimes deliberately targeting civilians, including children and infants. Have we ever heard any such heartfelt condemnation from Palestinians or Arabs? None that I can recall.
This in no way justifies the brutal murder of the east Jerusalem Arab youth Muhammad Abu Khdeir . Six Israelis have been arrested for this inexcusable crime, which was loudly and publicly condemned by Israel’s prime minister and president, and by the vast majority of Israelis – including the relatives of the three murdered Israeli boys. If Khdeir’s murder was carried out by Jewish hands it will be publicly condemned by rabbis and Jews everywhere. This is how it should be. There is no room in Israel for the hot-headed passion of the mob. There is no room in Jewish ethics or morals for such a barbaric deed. It was never a part of our Jewish DNA. It must be quarterized and removed before this cancer spreads and irrevocably damages the rest of our Jewish and Israeli soul. Neither shooting a Jewish prime minister in the back nor burning an Arab Israeli boy alive can be sanctified under any Jewish ethical, religious, or nationalistic code.
Both tragic events were not “eye for an eye.” They were not even “a life for a life.” No matter what excuses are made, the murder of Muhammad Abu Khdeir was not even a life taken for a cause. His, like those of Gil-Ad, Eyal and Naftali, was a life taken for hate.
Steps can be taken to deter and prevent a repeat of awful acts like the murders of Naftali, Gil-Ad and Eyal. Murdering Muhammad Abu Khdeir was not one of them.
The writer is the founder of the Netanya Terror Victims Organization. He is also the author of Israel Reclaiming the Narrative, available on Amazon and from www.israelnarrative.com.