Numbers don’t lie, but what diplomats sometimes do with numbers is another story.
U.S. Ambassador to Israel Thomas Nides recently gave a fascinating interview to the Jewish weekly newspaper Hamodia. At one point, interviewer Sara Lehmann asked him about a recent poll by prominent Palestinian pollster Khalil Shikaki and his Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research that showed “72% support among Palestinians for terror organizations.”
The ambassador replied, “I firmly believe, and you might disagree with me, but the vast, vast majority among the average Palestinians doesn’t wake up in the morning wanting to kill someone who happens to be Jewish. They want to live just like you and I do.”
He added that only a “small percentage of people … want to harm Israel.”
The same week that Nides gave the interview, Palestinian Media Watch reported that the Palestinian Authority had announced it would be presenting 40,000 letters of solidarity from Palestinian students to a murderer who was about to be released from prison.
In 1980, the terrorist Karim Younis picked up a young Israeli soldier named Avraham Bromberg who was hitchhiking his way home. Younis shot Bromberg in the head and dumped his body by the side of the road.
In addition to the 40,000 letters, “thousands” of residents of Younis’s village greeted him with “balloons, hugs and celebrations” when he was released on Jan. 5, according to media reports.
I didn’t read about any counterdemonstrations by the moderate, peaceful Palestinians to whom Ambassador Nides was referring. I didn’t see any picket signs or press releases by Arabs denouncing the cold-blooded murder of the Israeli hitchhiker.
And I didn’t hear about any Palestinian students writing anti-terrorist letters to match the 40,000 pro-terrorist letters. I’ve never read about the existence of even one—just one—student group in the P.A.-controlled territories that opposes and denounces Palestinian mass murderers.
Ambassador Nides also did not explain the basis for his calculation. How could he possibly know what “the vast, vast majority” of Palestinian Arabs think? He certainly can’t be basing his view on polls, because there have been countless polls over the years showing large majorities of Palestinian Arabs favor using violence against Israelis.
Nides certainly wasn’t basing his view on the actual number of Palestinian Arabs who have taken part in terrorist attacks over the years. Each year since the founding of Israel in 1948 there have been hundreds, sometimes thousands, of terror bombings, shootings and stabbings. The number of such attacks over the course of 74 years totals in the tens of thousands. They were perpetrated by people who do “wake up in the morning wanting to kill someone who happens to be Jewish.”
Now add to that the enormous number of rock-throwing terrorists. That is, Palestinian Arabs who “wake up in the morning wanting to kill someone who happens to be Jewish” and use rocks as their weapon, hoping to stone Jews to death. Such weapons are easy to acquire and the chances of escaping after the attack are much higher. The total number of such attacks must be in the hundreds of thousands by now.
The fact that rock-throwers have succeeded in killing fewer Jews than those who use bombs or guns doesn’t mean they’re not terrorists. Terrorists who use knives kill far fewer Jews than those who use bombs, but that doesn’t mean the stabbers aren’t terrorists.
So far, I have been referring to the perpetrators of terror, the ones who not only “want to kill someone who happens to be Jewish” but try to do it.
Add to them the many Palestinian Arabs who “want” to kill Jews but do not actually try to do so, for whatever reason. I mean the ones who write letters of solidarity to terrorists, engage in pro-terrorist propaganda or tell pollsters that they support violence.
And there’s another category to consider: Palestinian Arabs who support terrorism but tell pollsters that they don’t because they’re afraid of getting in trouble.
I can’t put a precise number on the number of Palestinian Arabs who fit into one or more of the above categories. But to say that the “vast, vast majority” of Palestinian Arabs do not fall into any of them is obviously ridiculous.
I am not accusing Ambassador Nides of deliberately lying. I give him the benefit of the doubt. I acknowledge that he represents the Biden administration, which has adopted a series of pro-Palestinian policies that are built on the premise that the “vast, vast majority” of Palestinians are against terrorism.
The administration can’t give the Palestinians hundreds of millions of dollars every year if it believes they support terrorism. It can’t advocate giving them a sovereign state along Israel’s old nine-mile-wide borders if it believes that they support terrorism.
So, the Biden administration has its party line, and Ambassador Nides’s job is to stick to it and articulate it as best as he can. Maybe he even believes it. Maybe he really thinks, despite all evidence to the contrary, that the “vast, vast majority” of Palestinians oppose terrorism.
But the rest of us must form our opinions based on facts, not wishful thinking. And every available fact points to the tragic reality that the vast majority of Palestinian Arabs support using bombs, bullets, knives and rocks to kill Jews.
Stephen M. Flatow is an attorney and the father of Alisa Flatow, who was murdered in an Iranian-sponsored Palestinian terrorist attack in 1995. He is the author of A Father’s Story: My Fight for Justice Against Iranian Terror.