Israelis have endured nearly one terror attack every hour of every day for 31 consecutive months. These attacks, with knives, guns, hatchets, acid bottles and bombs filled with razor blades dipped in rat poison, have had absolutely nothing to do with Palestinian “self-determination.” Rather, they have expressed barbarism as an end in itself, targeting always the most vulnerable Israelis, often on Jewish holidays when pious families sit down to eat and pray together. Most notable in this regard was the Palestinian suicide bombing of the Park Hotel in Netanya on March 27, 2002, an orgy of annihilation which killed 29 people and maimed many others as they took part in the ritual Passover celebration of Jewish freedom.
Palestinian propaganda, funded heavily from Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Europe, still seeks to suggest equivalence between Arab terror and Israeli counterterror, but there is an obvious and meaningful difference between premeditated murder and the unintended casualties of essential self- defense. What is perhaps most striking about Palestinian terrorism is that it is gratuitously cruel, employing violence against the innocent that is not only legally and morally inexcusable but that is also self-evidently counterproductive. If it is a recognizable national state that the Palestinians allegedly seek, do their leaders really believe that burning and dismembering Jewish children will best incline Israel toward an agreement? And what sort of state could expectedly be built by the Arab perpetrators of such exceptional defilement?
The State of Israel is less than half the size of San Bernardino County in California. It would fit more than two times into Lake Michigan. Yet, the world still begrudges this tiny place for the Jews. First the terribly civilized British, in undisguised defiance of their own explicit policy declarations and commitments, penned up surviving remnants of the Nazi death camps in Cyprus to prevent immigration to the ancient Jewish homeland; now most of the rest of the terribly civilized world abhors even an encircled microstate for the Jews, determining self-righteously that even Israeli self-defense against Yasir Arafat must be condemned. For this terribly civilized world, a world which pressures Israel to release Palestinian terrorists as a sign of “good faith,” the blood of Yasir Arafat is evidently much redder than the blood of Jewish children. The Negahot murderer of Rosh Hashana eve had recently been released by Israel in compliance with “requests” from Washington.
Little, it seems, has changed since 1945.
At best, our American universities are unmindful of what is happening in Israel. The industrious scholars are generally busy with more weighty matters, especially those that do not pertain to real life in any way. In academe, a truly fashionable concern is now for converting the structure of higher education into a profitable corporation. In the new corporate calculus of American Higher Education there is no time for terror victims’ agony, anguish and suffering, especially where the victims are merely Jews.
Who is to blame for barbarous forms of Arab terror? If the Palestinians are to be blamed at all, we hear from almost all educated quarters, responsibility belongs only to Hamas, or to Islamic Jihad, or perhaps to Nobel laureate Arafat’s Fatah. But surely it does not belong to the broader Palestinian community. Surely only the Arab “extremists” and “militants” are blameworthy. Yet, as we learn from all reliable survey research, an enormously disproportionate share of Palestinians fully supports the bombings, the burnings, the lynchings, and the shootings of Jewish noncombatants. Enjoying the now open support of Al Qaeda – support which is often accepted gratefully and without embarrassment – Palestinians in Israel as well as in Judea, Samaria and Gaza revel proudly in shedding the blood of Jewish children. And why not? Most nations argue that this “occupied” people may wage their particular armed struggle “by any means necessary.” Even better, Palestinian terrorists believe that the killing of Jews always buys them and their families a secure place in Paradise.
Recent “martyr” Samy Rahim’s words speak volumes about the true origins of Palestinian terrorism: “Every day on which the sun rises and no Jew is killed, nor any martyr has died, will be a day for which we will be punished by Allah.” This punishment will be inflicted because both obligatory aspects of sacrificial terror will have been neglected, the sacrifice of the Jew and the sacrifice of the “martyr.” The two-sided nature of terrorism/sacrifice is codified at the Charter of Hamas, which states:
“…the Palestinian problem is a religious one, to be dealt with on this premise … I swear by he who holds in His Hands the Soul of Muhammad. I indeed wish to go to war for the sake of Allah! I will assault and kill, assault and kill, assault and kill.”
In the prevailing Arab/Islamic view, victory for the Palestinians will come only when both the despised Jews and the beloved Arab “martyrs” suffer death. But while death for the Jews will be final and despicable, a confirmation of presumed Jewish unworthiness, death for the Palestinians will be only a temporary inconvenience on the sacred Islamic path to immortality.
The barbarism of the Palestinian terrorist is unparalleled in the history of insurgent warfare; it may even be altogether unique. Although there is no shortage of examples of revolutionary fighters who disregard humanitarian boundaries in battle, the record of fighters who deliberately and consistently seek utterly innocent and fragile targets is actually very small. Several months ago, when a Palestinian terrorist machine gunned two Jewish infants still sucking on pacifiers (the mother had been stabbed earlier), the image of the murdered children became a source of feverish exaltation throughout the Palestinian communities in Jenin, Ramallah and Gaza. When, a year earlier, a newborn Jewish child was shot deliberately by a sniper, Palestinian celebrants hailed the murder as “yet another military victory against the Zionist occupation.” When, several years ago, two Russian-Jewish Israelis who had not yet learned to speak Hebrew took a wrong turn into Ramallah, they were torn apart – literally – by howling mobs of frenzied Palestinians. When, after blinding and disemboweling the two Israelis, several young men in a Palestinian “police station” held up the still-dripping eyes and internal organs for all to see, thousands of ordinary Palestinians began to dance and chant wildly.
What kinds of people are these? What boundless levels of cowardice are they willing to undertake and sustain? What manner of fear can occasion such an utter lack of human regard for life? What vision of “Jihad” can transform schools, nurseries and buses into exploding altars of human sacrifice? Are there no limits, no limits at all, to Palestinian terrorism?
I don’t know the complete answers to these questions. I do know, however, that it is not despair. There are many, many other peoples on this planet whose conditions of daily life are much, much worse – indescribably worse – and these people never resort to pure barbarism. I know, also, that Palestinian schools and mosques systematically demonize “The Jew” and emphasize his or her alleged subhumanity. It is far easier to kill “the sons of pigs and monkeys” than it is to kill a fellow human being. Yasir Arafat’s appointed clergy, preaching last month on the Temple Mount, spoke as follows: “Palestinians spearhead Allah’s war against the Jews. The dead shall not rise until the Palestinians shall kill all the Jews.” This plea for a Final Solution to the “Zionist Problem” stems from highest Islamic authority, and reaffirms the promise of absolute freedom from death: “Do not consider those who are slain in the cause of Allah as dead,” says the Koran. “They are living by their Lord.”
Copyright The Jewish Press 2003. All rights reserved.
LOUIS RENE BERES was educated at Princeton (Ph.D., 1971) and is the author of many books and articles dealing with Arab/Islamic terror. He is Strategic and Military Affairs Analyst for The Jewish Press.