Secretary of State Antony Blinken gave the traditional, perfunctory condemnation of the terror attack in Hadera this week via Twitter:
‘We condemn today’s terrorist attack in Hadera, Israel. Such senseless acts of violence and murder have no place in society. We stand with our Israeli partners and send our condolences to the families of the victims.’
Unintentionally, our dear Secretary explained the reasons behind the failure of peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians and more generally the one-sided Islamic war against the West.
Secretary Blinken, like so many of his predecessors as chief diplomat of the most powerful country in the world, described a premeditated terror attack as “senseless”. And on one side of the equation, he is right: two young people got up in the morning and went about their business and before the day was out, they were murdered. No one anticipated their deaths at age 19 and the tragic outcome was both shocking and painful for the families and Israeli society that so values its youth and its brave soldiers.
But let’s take a moment to look at the attack from the other side—from the side of the attackers. Their goal was to kill at least one Jew and they were successful. Their goal was to terrify the Israeli populace, and they were successful. Their goal was to cause Israel to expend large amounts of money and resources trying to stop the next “lone wolves” from killing citizens, and they were again successful. The “senselessness” of Secretary Blinken is from the perspective of the victim—why did this happen? Why these victims, including the wounded? Why now? Why in Hadera? These are normal questions and feelings, but from the side of ISIS or any other terror organization, an attack that weakens Israeli (or American) society and causes large outlays in safety expenses is a success and makes perfect sense. It is this lack of looking at the attack from the side of the terrorists that leads to bromides and mindless statements that do nothing to make the situation better or safer.
And on a larger scale, the same problem exists regarding the negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians. Such talks have been going on in various formats since 1969. Why has there been no success in over 50 years of effort while the Abraham Accords were concluded in a relatively short period of time? Let’s think about the situation from the Palestinian side. Let’s say that there is a leader who would sign some agreement with Israel. How long would it take until there was a bounty on his head? A minute, an hour, a day? Hezbollah, Iran, Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, PFLP and every Islamic group would demand death to the person who sold out the Palestinian people by making peace with Israel. Let’s say that our intrepid leader somehow makes it to the day after the pomp of signing an agreement on the White House lawn, what comes next? He will soon hear of half a million Arabs or more, sold by the UN as “Palestinian Refugees”, on their way to the new state of Palestine from Lebanon, Iraq, Jordan, and Syria. These new Palestinian citizens will be asking where their housing is, where the schools and medical facilities they will need are located. And the answer will be that there are none. The Palestinians have built one new city (Rawabi) in the past 50 years. They have made no effort to prepare for mass absorption of new citizens because they don’t want these people showing up. So the Red Cross will have to build a couple hundred thousand tents outside of Ramallah and hope that they weather the torrential rains of local winters. Finally, the Palestinian leader, hiding behind guards and fending off possibly a million new and angry citizens, will face the fact that the Palestinian Authority has no economic engine. The Palestinians do not have the hydrocarbon wealth of the Saudis or Omanis; they additionally lack the startup culture and pluck of Israel. There is virtually no manufacturing and many Palestinians make their livelihood by working in Israel in agriculture, construction, and manufacturing. The new state of Palestine has no there there when it comes to having an independent economy to support statehood. The Palestinian leadership thus has every reason to turn down statehood and continue negotiations (and receive foreign donations)—forever.
And finally, just as at the local terror level and the Palestinian-Israeli peace negotiations, the failure to see the fight from the other side affects relations between the West and Islam. I remember as a kid a very popular bumper sticker (post-Vietnam): “What if they made a war and nobody showed up?” One might ponder the deep thought and get run over by a local city bus in the process. I think that today’s version would be “What if they made a war and only one side showed up?” The Islamists who attack Western countries and institutions really want to destroy that which they see as decadent and standing in opposition to their religious beliefs.
So what are the solutions? To some of these issues, there may be no simple answer. But as Sun Tzu implored, know your enemy. The lone terrorists who have been most active in shooting, stabbing and ramming attacks assume that there will be little consequence of their actions. Maybe Israel will destroy the house of the terrorist, but that can be quickly rebuilt. What if there are greater consequences, such as reduced workflow of Palestinians in response to any attack with loss of life? One can complain of collective punishment, but Israel suffers collective punishment when people are afraid to go to the mall or enter a restaurant or board a bus. Any attack in the name of the Palestinians will be met by one week of reduced work permits. I still remember the brief time when Gazans beat Hamas terrorists who were planning rocket launches against Israel—they knew that Israel would immediately shoot back at their homes and property. Make the lone wolves a much wider Palestinian problem so it becomes in their interest not to have Israelis attacked.
As to peace between Israeli and the Palestinians, the Quartet needs to think about making a solution that would appeal to Palestinians. I suggested ten years ago to someone at the US embassy in Israel to work with Lebanon and other countries to give citizenship to Palestinians still living in refugee camps 70 years after the Israeli War of Independence. If the pressure of a million new citizens could be removed from the Palestinian Authority (PA) leadership, maybe they would have more desire to finalize a peace agreement. I was told to stick to biochemistry. Fair enough, but unless there is a solution that is beneficial for the Palestinians, there will be no agreement between the PA and Israel.
And finally, as to the West and Islam, the first thing the West needs is to believe in itself and its history and values. The decline in religious belief in the West goes hand-in-hand with the loss of confidence and belief in the great treasures of philosophy, science, literature, and technology that the West has given the world. Only if western countries believe in their historical greatness can they demand and force acceptance of their laws in order to break up “no-go zones” and turn immigrants into citizens. Western countries must demand fidelity to all of the relevant laws and work to integrate Muslim immigrants into the general population to weaken the desire to take over their Western hosts rather than live in and contribute to them.
As I write these words, there has been another murderous attack in Bnei Brak. Please, Secretary Blinken, spare the “senseless act of violence” tripe. Palestinians are giving out candies to drivers in their major cities. Know the enemy Mr. Secretary and dedicate US efforts to defeat him.