Some journalists and pundits who write about Israel seem to be afflicted with what I call Born Yesterday Syndrome, in which they pretend that Palestinian Arab terrorism is a response to some recent Israeli policy. The most common example is when they claim that Arab terrorism is a response to Israel’s presence in the territories it won in the 1967 Six Day War – as if there had not been any Arab war against Israel prior to 1967.
Now we’re seeing signs of Born Yesterday Syndrome in the allegations that the latest Palestinian Arab terrorist attacks are the fault of the recently-elected Israeli government.
The Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association this week declared that the latest “outbursts of violence” by Arab terrorists “are largely the result of the Israeli government’s [policies] and the rhetoric of some members of the governing coalition that can only be seen as spurring it on.”
J Street likewise says that “the far-Right Israeli government’s latest major moves toward annexation and deepening occupation” are to blame for “relentlessly feed[ing] the cycle of worsening conflict and injustice.” (In reality, the government has not “annexed” anything, nor has it altered the “occupation” of the territory that the Oslo accords put under Israel’s control – but never mind those inconvenient facts.)
Along the same lines, a recent dispatch by the Reuters news agency claimed that “Tensions have risen further since Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu returned to power in December with religious nationalists in key cabinet posts...”
Break the Wave preceded Netanyahu
What these pundits and reporters are glossing over is the fact that the Israeli policy of sending security forces to arrest terrorists in Palestinian Authority cities did not begin under the recently elected Netanyahu government. In fact, the policy, known as Operation Break the Wave, was the brainchild of the Left-of-Center governing coalition that preceded Netanyahu.
The “wave” it was meant to break was a massive wave of Palestinian Arab terrorism that struck Israel in March 2022.
On March 6, a Palestinian Arab terrorist threw a firebomb at Israelis in Abu Dis. On March 7, Arab terrorists stabbed and wounded two Israelis in Jerusalem. On March 15, a terrorist shot at Israeli soldiers attempting to make an arrest in Balata. That same day, an Arab mob attacked Israelis arresting a terrorist in Kalandiya.
On March 22, a Palestinian Arab terrorist in Beersheba stabbed three Jews to death and murdered a fourth with his car. On March 27, Arab terrorists murdered two Israelis in Hadera. On March 29, a terrorist massacred five Israelis in Bnei Brak. Two days later, Palestinian Arabs shot and wounded an Israeli in Jenin, stabbed and seriously wounded an Israeli near Elazar, and tried to stone Israelis to death in Tarkumiya.
Eleven Israelis were murdered, and three wounded, in just nine days. At that time, the largest faction in the Israeli government was Yair Lapid’s left-leaning Yesh Atid party. Other coalition partners included the left-wing Labor party, the far-left Meretz party and the Arab nationalist Ra’am party.
THEY ALL supported former prime minister Naftali Bennett’s announcement of “Operation Break the Wave.” They all supported the policy of pursuing terrorists into PA-controlled cities. And their American supporters, such as J Street and the Reconstructionists, refrained from accusing that Israeli government of “escalating tensions.”
Bennett resigned not long afterwards. Lapid became prime minister. He continued Operation Break the Wave throughout the entire five months that he was in office. His successor, Benjamin Netanyahu, has opted to continue the Bennett-Lapid policy.
Netanyahu continued the Bennett-Lapid policy
And for good reason: there is a national consensus in Israel that the security forces should pursue and apprehend terrorists. Just like there is a national consensus in America that the police should pursue and apprehend criminals. Israel’s counter-terror strategy is not some “right-wing” policy; it was initiated by the Israeli Left and backed by the Israeli Left’s American Jewish cheerleaders.
Of course, the Palestinian Arab war against Israel didn’t begin in March 2022. Nor did it begin in June 1967. It began with the first organized Arab violence against Jews in the Land of Israel in modern times, the four-day pogrom in and around Jerusalem in April 1920.
There were no “illegal settlements” then. No “occupied territories.” No “right-wing Israeli government.” None of the so-called provocations that are allegedly to blame for Arab terrorism.
No, Palestinian Arab terrorism wasn’t born yesterday. It’s not a response to Netanyahu or settlers. It’s a response to the desire of Jews to live in their ancient homeland, and the existence of a Jewish state, of any size, regardless of any particular government or policy.
The writer is an attorney and the father of Alisa Flatow, who was 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 is an oleh chadash (new immigrant).