Photo Credit: Stephen M. Flatow
Stephen M. Flatow

Two Israeli military vehicles accidentally entered the Palestinian Arab city of Jenin on Sunday, the newspaper Israel Hayom reported. “Uniformed Palestinian troops” forced them to stop. A video of the incident showed them “approaching the Israeli military vehicles, kicking their tires, and yelling at the drivers to ‘get out.’ The Israeli vehicles turned around and exited the city as instructed.”

Wait a minute. There are “uniformed Palestinian troops” in Jenin? Israeli military vehicles would not enter the city, except by accident? The Palestinians forced the Israelis to leave, and they quickly did “as instructed”?


That doesn’t sound like the “Israeli occupation of the Palestinians” that we’re always hearing about. In fact, it sounds more like what happens when uniformed border police expel foreign forces from a sovereign state.

The Palestinian Authority regime that rules Jenin is not a sovereign state. But as Sunday’s border incident demonstrates, it’s pretty close. And it does not even remotely conform to the myth of an “Israeli occupation.”

The UN, the Jewish left, and the mainstream media use the term “Israeli occupation” as if it were a fact. Just last weekend, the Washington Post reported that members of Sareyyet Ramallah, a Ramallah-based Palestinian dance troupe, “dance to escape the daily grind of work or the monotony of their studies, as well as the nearly 50-year Israeli occupation.”

I can understand why work or studies might become tedious, and how dancing would provide a welcome escape. But if these dancers are really troubled by the “Israeli occupation,” then they need psychiatric help. They live in Ramallah, the Palestinian Authority’s capital. They walk its streets every day. There are no Israeli soldiers or police or governing officials of any kind in Ramallah. If the dancers are seeing Israeli soldiers, they’re hallucinating.

The reality in Jenin and Ramallah is quite different from the hallucinations about “occupation.” The reality is that in 1995, Yitzhak Rabin withdrew Israel’s forces from the cities where 98 percent of the remaining Palestinians reside. Those cities are off-limits to Israelis except when Israeli troops are forced to briefly chase after terrorists whom the PA refuses to arrest.

The PA has one of the largest per-capita security forces in the world. They are the ones who “occupy” the Palestinians.

Who does the UN think are those “uniformed Palestinian troops” in Jenin? Who does J Street think runs the PA’s jails and court system? Who does the State Department think runs the schools and collects the trash? I’ve got news for all of them: it’s not the mythical “Israeli occupiers.”

True, the PA can’t import North Korean missiles or Iranian “volunteers.” But except for that, the PA is essentially running its own state.

Yair Lapid, head of the Yesh Atid party, which is part of the opposition in the Knesset, said as much earlier this month. Speaking at the Jerusalem Post Diplomatic Conference, Lapid noted that “the PA has existed for over 20 years and Israelis do not have a presence in Palestinian cities except when there are security needs.”

Funny, I didn’t see Lapid’s words quoted in The New York Times or the Peace Now newsletter. That’s because Israel’s critics live in a politically fueled fantasy world, where they just keep repeating decades-old slogans rather than facing the world as it is.

It’s a world where uniformed Palestinian troops, guarding a near-de-facto Palestinian state known as the Palestinian Authority rule over the Palestinians in place of the Israeli “occupiers” who left 21 years ago.

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Stephen M. Flatow is president-elect of the Religious Zionists of America. He is the father of Alisa Flatow, who was murdered in an Iranian-sponsored Palestinian terrorist attack in 1995 and the author of A Father’s Story: My Fight for Justice Against Iranian Terror.