Last week, 19-year-old yeshivah student and Israel Defense Forces’ recruit Dvir Sorek was found stabbed to death near his village of Migdal Oz in Judea and Samaria.
Sorek had gone to Jerusalem to buy books for his teacher as an end-of-year present and was returning home when he was apparently targeted by Palestinian terrorists. His body was found by the side of the road, still clutching the books he had purchased, by popular Israel novelist and outspoken left-wing activist David Grossman.
Sorek was murdered almost exactly 19 years after his maternal grandfather, Rabbi Binyamin Herling, was shot dead in a terror attack near Nablus in October 2000.
Celebrating the murder of Jews with sweets has become customary in Palestinian society and a tradition not generally noted in the American press. In November 2014, Palestinians in the Gaza Strip celebrated an attack on a Jerusalem synagogue that left four dead and others wounded.
Following an October 2015 stabbing and shooting attack at the Central Bus Station in Beersheva, during which a young Israeli soldier was killed and many other commuters wounded, candy was distributed to passers-by in the streets of Shuafat, in eastern Jerusalem, to celebrate the “victory.”
In January, 2017, Palestinians took to the streets and social media to celebrate a truck-ramming attack in Jerusalem in which four Israeli soldiers were killed.
It is not surprising to hear the Palestinian leadership praising the murder of Jews in Israel, as it immediately did this week after the murder of Sorek, calling it “a heroic operation” and a “natural response to the Israeli occupation’s crimes.” But to see the Palestinian people repeatedly celebrating these murders by passing out sweets in the street gives one pause and raises serious questions about the likelihood of a two-state solution with each side living in peace next to the other.
The reaction of Palestinians to the murder of Israeli civilians by Palestinian terrorists helps to explain why Palestinians repeatedly have rejected legitimate and generous offers by the international community and Israel to establish their own independent state next to Israel (in 1939, 1947, 1967, 2000 and 2008). They simply have no desire to live in peace next to the Jewish State of Israel.
Their goal from day one has been the extermination of Jews “from the River to the Sea” (from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea, including all of present-day Israel). The murder of Sorek is not an isolated incident but simply their latest effort to achieve this goal.
The Palestinian reaction to the murder of Israelis forces one to more closely examine the Palestinian narrative. That narrative includes many claims to support their cause: statelessness, occupation, refugees, violations of human rights. And yet the Palestinians are not unique in their circumstances. It is well-documented that there are more than 300 peoples in the world today with legitimate claims to statehood; many of them live under brutal occupation and deprivations far in excess of anything suffered by the Palestinians.
And yet despite their legitimate claims and grievous living conditions, none of these other stateless peoples have resorted to the kind of mass murder that Palestinians have subjected the world to over the past half-century.
This is where the Palestinians are unique among the world’s independence movements. Palestinians virtually invented and perfected the art of political terrorism by hostage-taking, plane hijackings, stone-throwing, stabbings, shootings and suicide-bombings.
Among the attacks they are noted for are numerous plane hijackings in the 1970s; the 1979 Nahariya attack; the 1980 Paris synagogue bombing; the 1981 Antwerp bombing; the 2000 Ramallah lynching; the 2004 Sinai bombings; the 2008 Dimona suicide bombing; the 2011 Itamar attack; the 2001 Dolphinarium discotheque suicide bombing on the Tel Aviv beachfront which killed 21 Israelis, 16 of them teenagers; the 1985 hijacking of the Achille Lauro cruise ship and murder of Leon Klinghoffer in his wheelchair; the 1996 Jaffa Road bus bombings which killed 45 people; the 1972 Lod Airport massacre; the 1974 Ma’alot massacre which involved a two-day hostage-taking of 115 Israelis and ended in the murders of over 25 hostages; the 1972 Munich Olympic massacre resulting in the death of 11 Israeli Olympic athletes; the 2001 Sbarro restaurant suicide bombing in which 15 people were killed, including seven children and a pregnant woman, and 130 wounded; the murder of Ari Fuld last year and of Dvir Sorek last week.
These are just examples and do not constitute a complete list.
It is estimated that approximately 4,000 Israelis have been killed in terrorist attacks since the founding of the State of Israel in 1948. This is the population equivalent of 200,000 Americans.
Despite this notorious history of Palestinian violence, there are those in America and Europe who, for their own reasons, continue to enable and normalize Palestinian terrorism by their support of the Palestinian “narrative.” In response to the brutal murder of Dvir Sorek, the progressive American Jewish magazine The Forward published an opinion piece that urged its audience not to “politicize” Sorek’s death but to remember the message of peace he was carrying when he was slaughtered (books by a peace activist). The opinion writer fails to even admonish Sorek’s killers or note that they, too, must have missed his message of peace.
At the end of the day, the terrorists who murdered Sorek, and their families, will likely get a sweeter deal than treats in the street. The Palestinian government has created a “Martyrs Fund” to pay a monthly stipend to the families of Palestinians killed, injured or imprisoned for involvement in attacking Israelis.
It is a system called “pay for slay,” and it was reported that the fund paid out over $300 million in 2017 in amounts often exceeding $3,000 a month, at a time when the Palestinian government was struggling to pay its own civil servants. Sorek’s killers and their families are set for life, further incentivizing the murder of Jews.
Israel’s Shin Bet security service announced Saturday that it had arrested two Palestinian cousins suspected of Sorek’s murder. The suspects hail from the Palestinian village of Beit Kahil near Migdal Oz, and at least one is a member of Hamas. The Israel army said that more than 100 residents of Beit Kahil began hurling stones at troops while they were carrying out the arrest raid.
Steve Frank is retired after a 30-year career as an appellate lawyer with the U.S. Department of Justice in Washington, D.C. His writings on Israel, the law and architecture have appeared in publications such as “The Washington Post,” “The Chicago Tribune,” “The Baltimore Sun,” “The Jerusalem Post,” “The Times of Israel” and “Moment” magazine.