Understanding the Third Terror War

Caroline Glick is the Director of the David Horowitz Freedom Center's Israel Security Project and the Senior Contributing Editor of The Jerusalem Post. For more information on Ms. Glick's work, visit carolineglick.com


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There are two plausible internal Palestinian explanations for Fatah’s and Hamas’s newfound reticence, and they are not mutually exclusive. The first explanation of their silence is that the recent talk about Fatah and Hamas forming a unity government is serious. Fatah’s announcement Thursday that it had arrested two Islamic Jihad terrorists in connection with the Jerusalem bombing is notable in this vein. It signals that after four years of fighting Hamas forces in Judea and Samaria, Fatah is looking for a more politically convenient group of usual suspects.

The second reason Hamas and Fatah may be keeping mum about who is responsible is that they both know who did it and they are using the terror to gain leverage against one another at the negotiating table. If Hamas is carrying out the attacks, its leaders may simply be using them to strengthen their bargaining position in the unity talks. Fatah knows that if Hamas takes credit for the attacks, its mass popularity in Judea and Samaria will grow. And if Fatah is carrying them out, its leaders may be using them to show Hamas that they are serious about burying the hatchet with the Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood.

While the internal political dynamics of the various Palestinian terror groups is interesting, it is not the main game in town. For both Fatah and Hamas, the most important target audience is Europe. But before we discuss how the Palestinians’ assessment of Europe is connected to their move to obfuscate organizational responsibility for terrorism, it is necessary to consider the concrete political goal of their new terror war.

Fatah is in the midst of a global campaign to build international support for a unilateral Palestinian declaration of independence in September. From Israel’s perspective, the campaign is threatening for two reasons. First, a unilaterally declared Palestinian state will be in a de facto state of war with Israel. Second, if the Palestinians secure international recognition for their “state” in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and Gaza, the move will place 500,000 Jews who live in these areas in the international crosshairs.

Much of the discussion about this goal has centered on whether or not US President Barack Obama will veto a UN Security Council resolution endorsing such a declaration. And based on Obama’s behavior to date, the Palestinians have good reason to believe that he may support their move. But in truth, the discussion about how the US will respond to the planned Palestinian declaration is largely beside the point. The point of the threatened declaration is not to get a UN Security Council resolution supporting it. The point is to get the EU to enact further sanctions against Israel.

And this brings us back to the new policy of not taking credit for attacks on Israel, and to the decision to launch a new terror war in general. On the face of it, at such a sensitive time for the Palestinians diplomatically, it would seem that they would want to keep their traditional good cop-Fatah, bad cop-Hamas routine going and have Hamas take the credit for the recent attacks. Indeed, it would seem that the Palestinians would want to hold off on attacks altogether until after they declare independence.

The fact that Fatah and Hamas have neither waited until after September to attack nor sought to differentiate themselves from one another as the attacks coalesce into a new terror campaign indicates strongly that the Palestinians no longer feel they need to pretend to oppose terror to maintain European support for their war against Israel.

The Palestinians assess that Europe is swiftly moving toward the point where it no longer needs to pretend to be fair to Israel. The British, French and German votes in favor of the Palestinians’ anti-Israel Security Council resolution last month were the latest sign that the key European governments have adopted openly hostile policies toward Israel.

More importantly, these policies are not the consequence of Palestinian lobbying efforts, and so Israel cannot hope to change them through counter-lobbying efforts. Europe’s abandonment of even the guise of fairness toward Israel is the product of domestic political realities in Europe itself. Between the rapidly expanding political power of Europe’s Muslim communities and the virulently anti-Israel positions nearly universally adopted by the European media, European governments are compelled to adopt ever more hostile positions toward Israel to appease their Israel-hating publics and Muslim communities.

Take British Prime Minister David Cameron, for example. When Cameron called Gaza “an open air prison” last year, it wasn’t because he had just spoken to Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas. And he certainly wasn’t acting out of conviction. Cameron surely knew that his statement was an utter lie. And he also surely knew that Hamas is a jihadist terror group that shares the ideology of its fellow Muslim Brotherhood spin-off al- Qaida.

But for Cameron, far more important than Gaza’s relative prosperity and Hamas’s genocidal goals was the fact that in the last British elections, the UK’s Muslim Public Affairs Committee (MPAC-UK) successfully ousted six members of parliament who expressed support for Israel.

The Palestinians recognize that they don’t need to pretend to be good to get Europe to support them. After the people of Europe have been brainwashed by their media and intimidated by the Muslim communities, they have developed a Pavlovian response regarding Israel whereby every mention of Israel makes them hate it more. It doesn’t matter if the story is about the massacre of Israeli children or the bombing of synagogues and nursery schools. They know that Israel is the guilty party and expect the governments to punish it.

What the Palestinian silence on who committed what atrocity tells us is that in this new terror war, the Palestinians believe they cannot lose. With Europe in tow, Fatah and Hamas feel free to join their forces and advance both militarily and politically.

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  • Andres de Alamaya

    All this fancy analysis is interesting but does nothing for the cause of progress. The whole world knows that these acts of aggression are not being committed by the Swedes or Romanians or Italians. They are committed by Arabs who live in Israel. Israel needs to respond in a way that might dissuade them from such acts. Not an eye for an eye but a head for an eye. All Islamic aggression gets cooked up in mosques. Therefore, every time they blow up a bomb or lob a rocket, Israel needs to destroy a mosque. And if that doesn't work, after all the mosques have been reduced to dust, Israel needs to do what the Jihadists keep telling Israelis they will do – drive them all into the sea.

    • Ellene

      Thank you for that. Grand idea. I wish they would start today. Israel has too many appeasers. Unbelievably, their past has not taught them to be vigilant enough or tough enough to do what has to be done to control the terrorists

  • Jack

    Competing for credit and celebrating the murder of 3 babies and their parents is all we need to know about these scum of the earth .

  • muchiboy

    "take credit for the massacre of the Fogel family in Itamar on March 12. Hamas seemed to be competing for credit when its forces held a public celebration of the atrocity in Gaza City on March 13.
    But then Fatah withdrew its claim of responsibility, and Hamas never claimed credit."
    I could respond by citing in turn unconscionable acts of inhumanity committed against the Palestinian people by Israeli's and the IDF,but won't.The violence and sheer cruelty of this act against an innocent Israeli Jewish family is such that it needs unqualified condemnation.Likely it wasn't committed by a mad man,but one cannot rule out a combination of political agenda and national enmity.Let us be very clear,the Palestinian people have a legitimate political agenda that needs to be addressed,and Israelis have failed miserably and morally here.As unfortunately as it may be,there is undeniably a religious/ethnic component/hatred to the conflict.Prolonged war and armed conflict tend to incur these sentiments.Still,individual acts of inhumanity and cruelty may be dismissed,however reluctantly,but when they are part of a wider,deeper intentional plan,they must be universally condemned and punished.When such atrocities are indeed wildly celebrated by the populace (and I would need independent,collaborative evidence of this),this too needs condemnation,and an examination by the religious and academic members of the wider society.muchiboy

    • ziontruth

      "…the Palestinian people have a legitimate political agenda that needs to be addressed…"

      No, the agenda of the Arab settlers in Israel, of robbing the Jewish nation (the one and only true Palestinian nation!) of the one single tiny piece of land they have is not a legitimate political agenda. Anti-Zionism is illegitimate, an agenda of injustice. For the sake of a just and viable peace, all Arab settlers must evacuate the indigenous soil of the Palestinian nation, the Jewish nation.

    • ajnn

      1. "I could respond by citing in turn unconscionable acts of inhumanity committed against the Palestinian people by Israeli's and the IDF,but won't."

      No, you can't. In fact, this is a classic bit of moral inversion. You ask your audience to use its imagination to condemn israeli acts that exist only in that imagining.

      2. "there is undeniably a religious/ethnic component/hatred to the conflict". Are you agreeing that this is a religious war against the jews; a war that has been going on for hundreds of years and is now, in the rest of the middle east (where there are no jews) being carried out against christians ?

      We need to notice that the same briutality and lynchings targeting israel are also targeting christians. the only difference is that the jews have an actual country to use to defend themselves.

    • SpiritOf1683

      Well, Naziboy, I guess your kids were munching armfuls of sweets on 13th March, weren't they?

    • MixMChess

      "I could respond by citing in turn unconscionable acts of inhumanity committed against the Palestinian people by Israeli's and the IDF,but won't."

      No you CAN'T. Israel does not intentionally decapitate sleeping 4-year old children! Israel goes out of its ways to avoid civilian casualties, whereas the goal of Hamas and other Palestinian terrorist is to create civilian casualties. For instance, from 2000-2003 over 80% of Israelis killed were civilians, whereas less than 35% of Palestinians killed were civilians. The Israeli army has one of the strictest rules of engagement of any country in the world, which values the lives of Palestinian civilians over the lives of its own soldiers.

    • MixMChess

      "Likely it wasn't committed by a mad man,but one cannot rule out a combination of political agenda and national enmity.Let us be very clear,the Palestinian people have a legitimate political agenda that needs to be addressed,and Israelis have failed miserably and morally here."

      WRONG, the Palestinians do not have any legitimate grievances. And no matter what, none of their supposed grievances justify terror and the slaughter of innocent children.

      Terrorism committed by the Palestinians is a tactical strategy that is orchestrated, financed and supported by Hamas, the Palestinian Authority and other terrorist groups. It is an attack against the weak, innocent and defenseless. Palestinians don't target military installations or military personnel. They target children and babies, the young and the old. As Amnesty International and the International Red Cross (both highly critical of Israel) have noted, Palestinian terrorism is a "crime against humanity" and cannot be justified under any circumstances, including so-called "resistance" and Palestinian "grievances."

      Besides, Palestinians have had options, but they have repeatedly rejected compromise solutions that would have established an Arab state alongside a Jewish state-in 1937, 1947, 1969, 1979 and 2000. Had they accepted the United Nations Partition plan in 1947, their Arab state in Palestine would now be 57 years old. But in each case, they rejected the compromises and chose war or violence instead. In contrast, Israel accepted or actually proposed each compromise solution.

    • MixMChess

      "When such atrocities are indeed wildly celebrated by the populace (and I would need independent,collaborative evidence of this),this too needs condemnation,and an examination by the religious and academic members of the wider society."

      Huh? Are you serious?
      http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4041106

      Now are you ready to reexamine the disgusting morals of your beloved Palestinians?

    • aspacia

      The vast Arab world could absorb its brethren, just as tiny Israel absorbs its brethren. That would ease the Arab suffering. Remember, the Muslim agenda is to destroy all Jews and Israel, not help its brethren.

  • moshesharon

    One of the major weapons in this propaganda war against Israel is the “Remember these Children” website which compares the numbers of Arab children who have been killed in the conflicts to the number of Jewish children murdered by terrorists. The Arab list totals 1,437 since 2000 and the Jewish list totals 130. Not withstanding that such reporting is unsubstantiated, After visiting the site, I noticed that according to this report, most of the Israeli children were murdered in drive by shootings and human bombs exploding themselves in restaurants, buses and markets. In other words, the Arab terrorists targeted those children and murdered them in cold blood. For all of the Arab children, on the other hand, the site identifies the causes of death as gun shot wounds or explosions during the firefights with Arab Hamas fighters. What were their children doing in the middle of a war zone? That is clear and convincing evidence that the Hamas thugs where using the local children as human shields. Soldiers are trained to return fire when fired upon. The bushwhacking urban guerrillas who fire at enemy troops from a neighborhood full of children are the ones causing the deaths of those children. More at http:moshesharon.worpress.com

    • muchiboy

      "That is clear and convincing evidence that the Hamas thugs where using the local children as human shields. Soldiers are trained to return fire when fired upon."
      No it isn't.And it wouldn't necessarily be so in a courtroom,either.No doubt it has happened,and even the IDF have been accused of these reprehensible acts against Palestinian children.After years of such conflict even trained Israeli soldiers can kill Palestinian children throwing rocks.In that,they are no different from other soldiers,and I suspect less likely from soldiers who are fathers. muchiboy

      • MixMChess

        "No it isn't.And it wouldn't necessarily be so in a courtroom,either."

        Huh? It is well documented that the "brave" Hamas terrorists use children as human shields:
        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GWQQFJXMrg4

        Another brave Hamas fighter hiding behind a child: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J08GqXMr3YE

        Hamas using a civilian building to fire a "grad" rocket at Israel: http://blog.camera.org/archives/2009/01/news_stat

        In fact, Palestinians even admit that Hamas uses civilian areas as human shields. In the NY Times it was reported that "Shireen Shihab, 30, a resident of Gaza City," said that she had "seen Hamas fighters firing rockets toward Israel from a site two blocks away from her home. She said she and others could not express any opposition for fear of being labeled spies."
        http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/06/world/middleeas

      • MixMChess

        "No doubt it has happened,and even the IDF have been accused of these reprehensible acts against Palestinian children."

        The IDF has never used children (especially Palestinian children) as human shields, only Hamas engages in such horrendous acts.

        "After years of such conflict even trained Israeli soldiers can kill Palestinian children throwing rocks."

        They can, but they don't. Israelis don't murder children, that is the job of the Palestinians.

      • aspacia

        A stone can kill-Goliath was killed by David's stone. Frankly, Israel has the right to expel every Muslim from their land because they were victorious against the attackers.

  • muchiboy

    "Now are you ready to reexamine the disgusting morals of your beloved Palestinians?"
    Why not,I've examined the questionable morals of the Israelis,and found them wanting.The reference is Israeli,but I've no reason to doubt the report.Still,I want to check other sites I know and trust before commenting.I have heard of such celebrations after 911 and have my own ideas on the motives.Regardless,the "disgusting morals" of the Palestinians do not excuse the equally disgusting morals of the Israelis.Almost made for one another. muchiboy

    • MixMChess

      "I've examined the questionable morals of the Israelis,and found them wanting."

      Israel exemplifies every progressive and liberal ideal you hold dear, yet you find their morals wanting? You are either a fool, a liar or a hypocrite (or likely, all three).

      "Still,I want to check other sites I know and trust before commenting."

      Of course, if this was a Palestinian source you would treat it as gospel. Israel has a free and open press (the only one on the middle east), whereas Hamas and the Palestinian Authority manipulate and control all aspects of the "press" in the territories. To cast doubt on the veracity of Israeli newspaper report when compared with the controlled media of the Palestinians is absurd. The double-standard you openly apply is mind-boggling.

      "Regardless,the "disgusting morals" of the Palestinians do not excuse the equally disgusting morals of the Israelis."

      What? The Israelis provide humanitarian and economic aid and have repeatedly emphasized that they want a just and last peace with their Palestinian neighbors. The Palestinians are openly antisemitic, xenophobic and seek the destruction of Israel and to exterminate worldwide Jewry. This is a fact repeatedly emphasized by Hamas and the P.A.. The Palestinians and the Arabs are the antithesis of progressive values and liberalism. Their moral standings are incomparable.

      Perhaps the problem is that your moral standing is corrupt? Perhaps you gleefully cheer on despots, autocrats and theocracies that seek the destruction of innocent life? Perhaps you enjoy seeing Jews murdered? Perhaps deep down you find a kindred connection with the oppressive and illiberal Palestinians? Either that or you are a complete fool. So which is it?

    • aspacia

      Frankly, we should give Israel several neutron bombs to destroy the Muslim Vatican, and reap the black gold.

      muchless, you have no morals. At least I am honest regarding my views regarding Islam and its very dangerous agenda and believe it must be destroyed for the West to survive. The Muslims destroyed by neutron bombs want you and me dead and they make no excuses for it. Consequently, I will not make any excuse regarding the fact I want most of the intolerant MIddle-East erradicated.