By Stephen M. Flatow/JNS.org
After a Palestinian civil engineering student was revealed on August 2 to be the terrorist arrested for plotting a large-scale attack two weeks ago on Jerusalem's light rail in revenge for Jews visiting the Temple Mount, everyone's natural reaction to the terrorist’s capture was to breathe a sigh of relief, feel a sense of gratitude to the quick-thinking security guards who caught him and turn the page.
But before turning our attention away from this latest near-miss, it might be worth pondering a few lessons that might be learned.
It's not the "occupation." Would-be bomber Ali Abu Hasan is a resident of the town of Beit Ula, six miles northwest of Hebron. Like 99 percent of Palestinians, he lives under the rule of the Palestinian Authority (PA), not Israel. Former Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin withdrew Israel's forces from Beit Ula way back in 1995. This means that Hasan has lived literally his entire life under Palestinian, not Israeli, occupation.
It's not about borders or settlements, either. Hasan said his intention was "revenge against tourists and Jews who visit the Temple Mount." He wasn't demanding a Palestinian state, or an Israeli return to the pre-1967 borders, or an end to Israeli construction beyond the 'Green Line.' He told the Israeli police that his beef is the fact that a tiny number of "tourists and Jews" occasionally visit Judaism's holiest site, the Temple Mount, where the Al-Aqsa Mosque is located.
Keep in mind that non-Muslims who visit the Temple Mount are prohibited by the police from praying there. And unlike the Muslims on the Temple Mount, the non-Muslim visitors do not throw rocks and firebombs at the police, or engage in other types of dangerous or unruly behavior. They don't make noise. They don't bother anybody. All they do is briefly walk around the area and look at it. The mere presence of non-Muslims in the vicinity inflames Ali Abu Hasan and his ilk.
Poverty does not cause terrorism. State Department wonks, New York Times reporters and Peace Now activists are always telling us that Palestinians resort to violence because they are unemployed, impoverished and feeling "hopeless." Gentlemen, meet Ali Abu Hasan. He's not some high school dropout, hanging out on street corners and looking for mischief. He's a student in industrial engineering at Hebron University. Far from being "hopeless," he was on a path to professional achievement and financial independence.
Poverty did not turn Hasan into a terrorist. Which means that giving the Palestinians billions of dollars – the U.S. has given them more than $10-billion since 1994 – will not deter them from becoming terrorists.
Incitement matters. We know from Palestinian Media Watch that the Palestinian Authority-controlled newspapers, radio and television constantly seek to rouse the public with hateful, libelous accusations that "the Jews" are trying to destroy the Al-Aqsa Mosque on the Temple Mount. The Jerusalem Post reported last September 16 that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas himself announced: “Al-Aqsa is ours and so is the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. They have no right to desecrate them with their filthy feet. We won’t allow them to do so…"
Obviously, accusations about "filthy" Jews "desecrating" Muslim religious sites will inflame young Palestinians like Hasan. And when those proclamations are made by top Palestinian leaders, they carry weight and credibility.
Every once in a while, some State Department official, under questioning from journalists, will mumble a vague expression of "concern" about the PA's incitement. But it's obvious that the Obama administration will never take any serious steps to pressure the PA. The American Jewish community needs to work with Congress to bring about concrete steps in this regard.
Let's not be afraid to tell the truth about the brutality of Palestinian terrorists. In polite company, one is not supposed to use words like "savage" or "animal" when characterizing Palestinian terrorists. It's considered dehumanizing. But consider the Jerusalem police spokesman's description of the explosive device that Hasan made: three pipe bombs, fused together, with nails and screws glued on, all covered in rat poison.
Why did Hasan glue nails and screws to the bomb? So that people who were not hit by the explosion itself, would be hit by the nails and screws, which would shoot out from the explosion at high speed in all directions.
Why did Hasan cover it all in rat poison? So as to inflict additional pain upon those victims who otherwise would have suffered only cuts or bruises.
To sum up: a well-educated professional-in-training, who has lived his entire life under Palestinian rule, was so incensed at the idea of a Jew walking in the vicinity of the Al-Aqsa Mosque that he set out to slaughter, maim and poison as many other Jews as possible. In my book "savage" is too kind a word for such a person.
Stephen M. Flatow, an attorney in New Jersey, is the father of Alisa Flatow, who was murdered in an Iranian-sponsored Palestinian terrorist attack in 1995.
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