Why the murder of Muhammad Khdeir must not prevent Israel from dealing decisively with Hamas.
Originally published by the Jerusalem Post.
Sixteen-year-old Muhammad Abu Khdeir was doing his own thing last Tuesday when he was abducted by Jewish terrorists, who slaughtered him. They killed him because he was an Arab, and they are racist murderers.
The police made solving Abu Khdeir’s murder a top priority. In less than a week, they had six suspects in custody. Three confessed to the murder.
There are dark forces at work in Israeli society. They need to be dealt with.
And they will be dealt with harshly.
They will be dealt with harshly because there is no significant sector in Israeli society that supports terrorism.
There is no Jewish tradition that condones or calls for the murder of innocents. In Jewish tradition, the line between protecting society from its enemies and committing murder is long, wide, unmistakable and unmoving.
This is why, for instance, at the memorial service for 20-year-old Shelly Dadon, who was murdered by an Israeli Arab terrorist from the Galilee in early May, the placards held up by the 2,000 participants called for the police to protect the public.
“Our blood is not worthless,” “Today it’s Shelly, tomorrow it could be you,” and, “Death penalty for murderers,” they read.
Not surprisingly, when on Sunday the police revealed both that they had arrested Abu Khdeir’s Jewish killers and that they had arrested Dadon’s Muslim murderer, public interest in the former story far surpassed interest in the latter.
The story of an Israeli Muslim terrorist murdering an Israeli Jewish woman is a dog bites man story.
The story of Israeli Jewish terrorists murdering an Israeli Muslim teenager is a man bites dog story.
The same goes for violent rioting.
The anti-terror demonstration in Jerusalem scheduled for last Tuesday quickly became a violent anti-Arab riot with rioters assaulting helpless Arab passersby. The police arrested 47 Jewish rioters. And the public as a whole condemned them.
Without public support, such deviant behavior has little longevity. Mob violence, as a general rule, plays to the audience at home. With no public support, the riots were over after one night.
In contrast, Jerusalem Arabs began rioting on Wednesday night. The riots spread to the north and south of the country by the end of the week. And there seems to be no end in sight.
There are several factors prolonging them. The most troubling is the depraved state of Arab society – both Palestinian Arab and Israeli Arab.
Whereas aside from fascist soccer fan clubs there are no significant Israeli Jewish groups that condone terrorism or racial violence, hatred of Israel and support for terrorism and the destruction of the Jewish state are widespread among Israeli Arab leaders and the general Arab public.
As for the Palestinians, there are no significant forces in Palestinian society calling for peaceful coexistence with Israel. The only voices celebrated are those calling for murdering Jews and destroying the Jewish state.
There is also the issue of the unfortunate timing the current violence.
The month of Ramadan has only just begun. During Ramadan, Muslims generally sleep during the day, wake up in the evening to eat and stay up all night long. With the widespread societal support for committing violence against Jews, rioting after the holiday meal is an attractive option for young people.
Moreover, we are in the midst of summer vacation. Teenagers with nothing to do can easily keep rioting through the night until school starts on September 1.
Monday night was witness to some encouraging signs. Several Arab mayors took to the streets to discourage continued rioting. The mayor of Kalansuwa, whose residents firebombed Jewish cars over the weekend and beat their drivers, began cleaning up the road. But the rioting is far from a spent force.
Beyond the local cause for their continuation, there are the outside forces itching to take over the action.
Israeli Arabs do not operate in a vacuum.
If the rioting continues, the current situation, in which much of the violence is spontaneous and locally organized, is not likely to last.
In 1987, the Palestinian uprising began as a spontaneous riot in Gaza City following a traffic accident involving an Israeli driver. At the time, from its distant base in Tunis, the PLO was searching for a way to be relevant.
Yasser Arafat and his goons quickly seized on the riots in the territories and took control of them through a campaign of bribery, extortion and murder.
Today Fatah and Hamas are in the midst of a power struggle. Each is keen to take control of the riots to assert supremacy over the other.
In Fatah’s case the effort still appears limited to incitement. On Monday for instance, Fatah’s Facebook page addressed Israel saying, “Sons of Zion, this is an oath to the Lord of the Heavens: Prepare all the body bags you can for your body parts.”
As Palestinian Media Watch has reported, this post was of a piece with other posts Fatah has published in the past week, all making clear that Fatah supports the riots and wishes to subsume them into a larger Fatah-led terror campaign against Israel.
Hamas today faces severe challenges.
Egypt is starving Hamas by blocking the smuggling tunnels from Egypt to Gaza. Fatah is starving Hamas by refusing to pay its employees’ salaries.
Internally Hamas in Gaza is facing a growing challenge from Islamic Jihad on the one hand and al-Qaida and ISIS affiliated terror cells on the other.
As Hamas sees it, no doubt rightly, the best way to rally its people behind it, weaken Fatah and alleviate Egypt’s stranglehold of Gaza is to go to war against the Jews. Operationally, it believes that it has a momentary advantage because a significant number of Israeli forces are tied down in Judea and Samaria.
The Netanyahu government gave Hamas good reason to believe it should press its perceived advantage.
By openly calling last Thursday for a cease-fire with Hamas, the government demonstrated severe weakness at a critical moment. It is not at all surprising that by Monday Hamas had escalated its attacks and extended the range of the rockets it has deployed to the outskirts of Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.
Nor is it surprising that by Monday night, the government was compelled to launch Operation Protective Edge to destroy Hamas’s missile arsenal.
The Jewish terrorists who murdered Abu Khdeir have made a bad situation much worse for Israel. The largely anti-Semitic international community had difficulty denying Israel’s right to self-defense after Naftali Fraenkel, Gil-Ad Shaer and Eyal Yifrah’s bodies were found last Monday.
Now, despite the obvious differences between Israel and its Arab neighbors, the man-bites-dog story these Jewish terrorists created has relegated Israel again to its normal position of defendant in the continuous Kafkaesque trial that is the Jewish state’s diplomatic fate.
Unfortunately, we cannot stand down because we are mortified by the sick margins of our society.
We must build on these first signs of remorse and quell the Israeli Arab riots as quickly as possible. Aside from their obvious human toll, every day the riots continue, the prospect of Palestinian terror groups taking over and directing the violence expands.
So too, Israel has no choice but to fight another round of war with Hamas. And it must win this one decisively.
It would have been far more advantageous if Israel could have sat back and watched as Hamas and its foes destroyed one another. But this is not an option. Hamas is determined to fight. Israel must defeat it.
Once the dust has settled, or even as it continues to storm, Israel will have to deal with our Jewish terrorist problem.
The weeds of our society must be uprooted. And we must take action to heal Israeli Arab society. We cannot repeat the mistake we made in 2000, by appointing a commission that strengthened the most dangerous forces in Israeli Arab society in an attempt to appease them.
We must build on the actions of the Arab mayors who have begun to stand up to the rioters and actively encourage Israeli Arabs to integrate into Israeli society while enforcing the laws without prejudice against those who incite, condone, facilitate, organize or otherwise abet mob violence and irredentism among Israeli Arab society.
Israel faces a difficult, violent period ahead. But there are certain imperatives of freedom that we cannot shirk.
Defeating enemies – from within and without – who act to destroy us is one of them.
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