I was riding my bike through the pastoral Judean Hills of Gush Etzion yesterday afternoon, as I often do, just to get in a little bit of exercise before sunset.
Riding on a stretch of the old service road between Elazar and Neve Daniel I noticed that the traffic was building up significantly on the highway below. Seconds later I heard sirens. Then I saw ambulances and police vehicles one after another zooming by in the direction of the Gush Junction.
But I still wasn’t sure what was going on.
A day earlier in almost the exact same spot while riding, I also saw the traffic building on the highway followed by sirens, but upon arrival at the Elazar junction I saw that it was a traffic accident with only minor injuries (thank God).
On this day though, just seconds later, I found out that this was no accident.
The reality was that a Muslim terrorist at the Gush junction seeking to add his warped legacy to a long list of jihadists before him who have carried out attacks at or near the junction over the past year and a half, had rammed his car into a bus stop intending to murder any Israeli civilians or soldiers in his path.
Thank God only one Israeli a 60 year old was lightly wounded in this incident, while security forces on-hand liquidated the terrorist.
So how did I know that this was an attack and not an accident despite being over two kilometers away, and riding a bike without taking the time to rummage through my pockets to check my cell phone?
I knew immediately what this was, when an Arab man in one of the cars below who was stuck in the traffic jam looked up at me riding and screamed out his window “Allahu Akbar.”
What was his point?
This Muslim man, most likely a neighbor of mine living in Bethlehem, Hebron, or one of the many villages between those two towns, was shouting those words at me to show his support for the attempted murder of Jews which just took place.
While some translate “Allahu Akbar” often uttered by global terrorists in the act, or in this case by someone verbally supporting murder, as ‘G-d is great,’ I’ve been taught that the phrase actually means, ‘Allah is the one true deity.’
Regardless of the translation, his message to me was clear – he approved of the demented act of terror down the road.
Despite the limited coexistence we witness daily in Gush Etzion – Muslims and Jews shopping together, working together, etc. the question I ask is how many others trapped in that traffic jam either thought or mumbled to themselves “Allahu Akbar?”
I might never know the answer. But what is important to remember is that while anti-Semitism in Europe and now in the US has reared its ugly head more than 70 years after the Holocaust (truth is, it never really went anywhere) drawing a ton of media coverage, the worst anti-Semitism is taking place right here under the tutelage of the Palestinian Authority.
With daily incitement being spewed in official media outlets, on social media, in schools and in mosques, it’s no surprise that a 2014 ADL study showed that the highest rates of anti-Semitic attitudes in the world were found in the PA-controlled areas in Judea, Samaria, and Gaza, with over 90% of the population there displaying such Jew hatred.
That being the case, maybe I shouldn’t be as shocked as I was learning of the attack through my neighbor’s words – words meant to show hate, but whose effect only strengthened my resolve and commitment to living as a proud Jew in the Land of Israel.