Reporting Palestinian violence undermines anti-Israel agenda - opinion

Everything about these attacks undermines everything that J Street and the slam-Israel media and the State Department crowd are trying to promote.

 A CONFRONTATION takes place between Palestinian protesters and police in Sheikh Jarrah on Monday. (photo credit: YOSSI ZAMIR/FLASH90)
A CONFRONTATION takes place between Palestinian protesters and police in Sheikh Jarrah on Monday.
(photo credit: YOSSI ZAMIR/FLASH90)

Did you hear about the young Arab man who was walking his dog in Jerusalem one evening last spring, and was assaulted and nearly lynched by Jewish extremists?

No, of course you didn’t hear about it – because it didn’t happen. Oh, there certainly was an assault. But the victim was a Jew. And the would-be lynchers were Palestinian Arabs. That’s why it wasn’t covered by the international media. That’s why there were no angry press releases from J Street or Americans for Peace Now. That’s why the usually-vocal Jewish ex-State Department officials were all silent.

Two of the attackers were convicted this week, so the ugly episode was back in the news—in the Israeli media, that is. Not in The New York Times or The Washington Post or CNN. They didn’t report the attack when it happened, and they didn’t report the conviction – because everything about the attack undermines everything that J Street and the slam-Israel media and the State Department crowd are trying to promote.

It was a lovely spring evening – April 24, 2021. Eli Rosen, 27, decided to walk his dog along Pierre van Paassen Street, part of which runs through the mixed Arab-Jewish neighborhood of Shimon Hatzadik, also known as Sheikh Jarrah.

A number of Palestinian Arabs had gathered nearby. “When they noticed that the victim had a Jewish appearance, they began throwing rocks at him,” according to the bill of indictment.

Israeli security forces detain a Palestinian man during clashes in the East Jerusalem neighbourhood of Sheikh Jarrah, December 17, 2021. (credit: REUTERS/AMMAR AWAD)Israeli security forces detain a Palestinian man during clashes in the East Jerusalem neighbourhood of Sheikh Jarrah, December 17, 2021. (credit: REUTERS/AMMAR AWAD)

Civil rights activists in the US have coined the term “driving while black” to describe unjust arrests of African-American motorists. I guess Eli Rosen didn’t realize that to some Palestinian Arabs, it’s a crime to walk your dog while Jewish.

The bill of indictment continues: “The rioters – including the defendants  – ran toward him, surrounded him on all sides and began attacking him with fists, kicks, wooden batons, bricks, rocks, various objects and a shocker. All out of a nationalist-ideological motive.” 

When Adnan Harbawi, 18, and Ibrahim Zaatari, 26, were convicted this week of taking part in the mob attack, the Israeli media mentioned an additional fascinating aspect of the story: “The rioters uploaded documentation [of the attack] to the social media.”

BEFORE I go any further, I want to emphasize that I don’t like to compare contemporary events to the Holocaust. I don’t like it when the right does it, and I don’t like it when the left does it. Such analogies overstate what is happening today, and by implication understate what the Nazis did. 

So, I’m not going to say that a mob beating up a Jew in Jerusalem is “like the Holocaust.” But this phenomenon of publicly boasting about one’s evil deeds should not pass without comment. Holocaust researchers have repeatedly uncovered photo albums which Nazi concentration camp commandants kept, to remember and celebrate what they did to the Jews.

There is a chilling book called The Good Old Days: The Holocaust as Seen by Its Perpetrators and Bystanders. The title is from the cover of one such album, which was kept by a commandant at Treblinka. 

It is worth reading. Not because the attack on Rosen was “like the Holocaust.” But because the depraved evil of which human beings are capable of committing – and being proud of – is an aspect of human psychology that is worth contemplating, whether it took place in 1945 or last year.

Those who assaulted Rosen were so proud of their violence that they wanted the whole world to see their vile actions. They celebrated. This, they said, is what should be done to Jews. 

The Sheikh Jarrah/Shimon Hatzadik neighborhood has been in the news a lot lately. Arab squatters have been illegally occupying several Jewish-owned apartments, setting off a years-long court battle. Meanwhile, other Arab residents don’t want Jewish neighbors, so they have been using violence to stop Jews from moving into the area.

J Street and the ex-State Department peace-processor crowd have been portraying the Jewish residents as wild-eyed extremists who are the villains in the conflict. They say that the Palestinian Arabs are victims of Jewish aggression, that the Jews should be kept out of the neighborhood, and that the Palestinians should be given their own state, with Sheikh Jarrah/Shimon Hatzadik as part of the capital of “Palestine.”

So now you can see why the critics of Israel – in the media, in the punditry, in the think tanks – haven’t said a word about the assault on Eli Rosen. The near-lynching of a Jew walking his dog undermines the pro-Palestinian narrative. It reveals the ugly, antisemitic hatred that consumes so many Palestinian Arabs. It reminds the world how crazy it would be to give a sovereign state to people whose response to a Jew walking his dog is to try to murder him. 

And that’s something that J Street and The Washington Post don’t want anybody to be reminded of.

The writer is the father of Alisa Flatow, murdered in an Iranian-sponsored Palestinian terrorist attack in 1995. He is author of A Father’s Story: My Fight for Justice Against Iranian Terror, and a new oleh.