Once again the nation has been thrown into a collective state of trepidation. Once again terrorism, inspired by an extremist Islamist theology, has struck in the form of kidnapping.
For a time it seemed as though a relative qualm could be maintained indefinitely. There were, of course, incidents of rock throwing and firebombings. But the general impression was that the Palestinians had learned from the trauma of the second intifada that they could achieve nothing through terrorism. Violence would only be met with more violence.
Unfortunately, that was just an impression. Just under the surface there was a hotbed of terrorist activity. In 2013, according to Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, there were more than 30 kidnapping attempts foiled by our security forces. So far in 2014, 14 attempts have been prevented. In over 10 incidents, terrorists sitting in prisons helped organize the kidnapping attempts.
Not just Hamas and Islamic Jihad were behind this terrorist activity. Organizations affiliated with the “moderate” Fatah, Israel’s negotiating partner until the end of April, were involved as well. In September, IDF soldier Tomer Hazan was murdered by Nidal Amar, a Palestinian who had hoped to swap Hazan’s body for the release of his brother – a member of Fatah’s Tanzim terrorist organization – from an Israeli prison.
Now three teenagers have been kidnapped.
All of this terrorist activity, including Thursday night’s kidnapping, did not fester in a vacuum. For years official Palestinian institutions have kept up a barrage of incitement against the Jewish state. Haifa, Acre and Jaffa are regularly referred to in Palestinian media and by Palestinian Authority offices as belonging to Palestinians. Jewish people’s right to a nation state of their own is rejected.
Terrorists, both living and dead, responsible for the murder of Israeli civilians – including women, children and the elderly – are regularly glorified. Streets and plazas are named after them. The families of terrorists serving time in Israeli prisons are provided with hefty monthly salaries – salaries larger than those provided to Palestinian law enforcers.
According to public opinion surveys recently conducted by Dr. Khalil Shikaki of the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research, no other issue is so burning for Palestinians as the release of Palestinian terrorists from Israeli jails.
It should not, therefore, come as a surprise that the kidnappings are viewed by a large percentage of Palestinians – perhaps by most – as completely justified. And since all three young men are enrolled in schools located beyond the Green Line, they are seen as legitimate targets of murderous Palestinian terror. In other words, they are seen as subhuman.
The official PA daily printed a cartoon celebrating the kidnapping of the three Israeli teenagers, as noted by Palestinian Media Watch. Instead of the logo of the World Cup 2014, in which victorious hands hold a globe of the world, the PA cartoon shows a “trophy” of three hands holding three people – settlers – with their hands up in surrender. If other peoples held such abhorrent views of Jews or printed such caricatures, they would immediately and rightly be accused of anti-Semitism.
Even moderate Palestinians blame settlement construction and Israel’s perceived intransigence during the recently abandoned Israeli-Palestinian negotiations for “pushing” Palestinians toward supporting violent terrorism as a means of gaining their demands. But this explanation removes human agency from the equation. Palestinians are not obligated to support terrorism; they choose this option of their own free will.
Palestinians have to eschew violence. They have to cease supporting political movements that call for Israel’s destruction, that brutally enforce Shari’a, that stifle dissent. They have to stop the demonization of Jews whose only “crime” is that they live or attend schools beyond the Green Line. They also have to stop the glorification of terrorists. Only then will they succeed in persuading Israelis that a Palestinian state will not pose an existential threat to a Jewish state. Thursday’s kidnapping and the tremendous support this kidnapping has on the Palestinian street only confirm Israelis’ belief that Palestinians are enemies, not partners for peace.