New York Times columnist Thomas L. Friedman once described Palestinian rock-throwing as “non-violent resistance.” And a recent Times news article described a mob of Arab rock-throwers as “unarmed.” But last week in Colorado, rock-throwers reminded us of the horrific harm that their “non-violent” behavior can inflict.
Alexa Bartell, age 20, was driving through Jefferson County on April 27 when three young men began throwing rocks at motorists. One of those rocks smashed through Alexa’s front windshield, killing her. Several other drivers were seriously injured.
She was just 20 years old—the same age as my daughter Alisa when she was murdered by Palestinian Arab terrorists. Two young women with their whole lives ahead of them, cruelly ripped from this world by violent attackers.
How have the authorities in Colorado responded to the rock-throwing incident in Jefferson County? Are they treating it as vandalism, an unfortunate accident, just kids fooling around?
On the contrary. The district attorney has charged them with first-degree murder. The penalty is life in prison.
Almost every day in Israel, some innocent motorist is the target of potentially lethal rock-throwing. At least 16 Israelis, including four American citizens, have been murdered by Palestinian Arabs throwing rocks at them. Thousands of Israelis have suffered injuries, and some have been permanently maimed, by rock-throwers.
The Israeli victims of rock-throwing are never mentioned by the international news media. Their names never appear in press releases from J Street or U.N. resolutions. U.S. State Department spokespeople are not interested in their suffering.
On Jan. 29, 1983, 21-year-old Esther Ohana was a passenger in a car on her way to deliver invitations to her wedding. Palestinian Arab rock-throwers attacked. A rock struck Esther in the head and killed her. Friedman will never write a column about her.
Chava Wechsberg, age 11, was a passenger in a car that was ambushed by Palestinian Arab rock-throwers on Feb. 24, 1993. The attack caused the car to crash, killing her. The Washington Post never investigated her death.
Yehuda Haim Shoham, just 5 months old, was strapped into his car seat on June 5, 2021, when Palestinian Arab rock-throwers attacked. Rocks struck Yehuda in the head, killing him. His death was never discussed at the United Nations.
Asher Palmer and his year-old son, Yonatan, were murdered by Palestinian Arab rock-throwers on Sept. 23, 2011, when the rocks they threw caused the car to crash. In the countless press releases and articles that Americans for Peace Now and Partners for Progressive Israel have distributed over the years, they have never mentioned the Palmers.
Adele Bitton was just 2 in March 2013 when the car in which she was a passenger overturned as a result of being attacked by Palestinian Arab rock-throwers. She was badly injured but clung to life. For two more years, Adele suffered. For two long years, her family agonized at their little girl’s pain. And then they mourned her death when she finally succumbed to the injuries the rock-throwers had inflicted. And the international community remained silent.
Why the silence? The answer is obvious: Arab rock-throwing is politically inconvenient. It undermines the Palestinian cause. When there is a terrorist attack involving bombs or guns or knives, there are only a few terrorists involved. The media and Israel’s critics pretend that the violence is the work of “only a few extremists.”
But Palestinian Arab rock-throwing is a very different matter. It involves large groups of people, every single day. The total number of Palestinians who have thrown rocks at Israeli Jews over the years is certainly in the tens of thousands, probably in the hundreds of thousands.
Acknowledging that such a huge number of people have been trying to murder Israeli Jews means admitting that the desire to murder innocent Jews is not some isolated fringe phenomenon in Palestinian society but is widespread. It shatters the myth that the Palestinians have become moderate—that they are peaceful, willing to coexist with Israel. And that makes it harder to promote the creation of a Palestinian state.
So, what can Israel’s critics do? First, they try to ignore it. Journalists don’t report Palestinian rock-throwing, and pundits don’t comment on it. When rock-throwing does attract attention, commentators minimize it; they try to pretend that it’s not really so dangerous. Some of the apologists even go to ridiculous lengths, such as Friedman’s infamous description of rock-throwing as “non-violent resistance.”
But the truth has once again been tragically demonstrated, this time on a road in Jefferson County, Colo. Whether in the Mideast or the Midwest, rocks are deadly weapons.
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 author of “A Father’s Story: My Fight for Justice Against Iranian Terror.”