Last Thursday, a Palestinian teenager stabbed a young Jewish father to death and wounded two others. On Sunday, a Palestinian teenager who assaulted Israeli soldiers was released from prison to international acclaim. Later on Sunday, two Palestinian teenagers with machine guns and bullet magazines were intercepted on their way to massacre Jews.
Palestinian children are not born hating Jews or loving violence. Who is to blame for encouraging and inspiring these young people to engage in such murderous behavior?
We can, of course, dismiss the tired cliché about how “the occupation” is what causes young Palestinians to turn violent. Israel stopped occupying 98 percent of the Palestinians back in 1995. Thursday’s stabber and Sunday’s machine-gunners have spent their entire lives under the rule of the Palestinian Authority, not Israel. They had to leave their P.A.-ruled home towns and go in search of Jews elsewhere precisely because the last Israeli soldier left their hometowns way back in 1995.
So if it’s not the “occupation,” then what is it?
The obvious answer is the P.A. school system. Every day, in every classroom, Palestinian children are taught that Jews are evil monsters, and Arabs who kill them are heroes and martyrs who will be rewarded with cash and virgins.
And it’s not just the schools. Palestinian children are also exposed to newspapers, television and radio programs, movies, plays and novels—all of which are saturated with hatred of Jews and the glorification of terrorists.
And don’t forget the crucial role of the enablers.
Let’s start with the extreme-left wing of the Democratic Party in the United States. Twenty-eight members of Congress, led by Rep. Betty McCollum of Minnesota, have so far signed on to legislation that would prevent U.S. aid to Israel from being used to arrest “Palestinian children.” All 28 are Democrats.
Any Palestinian under 18 qualifies as a “child,” according to the bill. That means that Israel would be penalized if its army arrested the 17-year-old who murdered the young Jewish father or the two 17-year-olds with the machine guns.
Not surprisingly, the bill has been praised by Israel-hating organizations such as the U.S. Campaign for Palestinian Rights and the American Friends Service Committee (the Quakers).
But they’re not the only ones who approve of McCollum’s anti-Israel initiative. Jeremy Ben-Ami, the president of J Street, which claims to be pro-Israel, was interviewed this week by the online news site Roll Call about the bill. Here was his response: “These kinds of expressions from not just one member but a significant portion of the Democratic caucus, in my mind, is groundbreaking. It’s part of an overwhelming trend.”
Fortunately, it’s not an “overwhelming trend” at all. There are 193 Democrats in the House of Representatives, of whom 28 have signed on to McCollum’s bill. That’s 14 percent of House Democrats who have endorsed the bill, meaning some 86 percent have not. Still, even though it’s not an overwhelming trend, it’s a worrisome trend.
What’s especially worrisome is that J Street, which has a large budget and numerous lobbyists on Capitol Hill, is hailing this anti-Israel legislation as “groundbreaking,” and obviously encouraging members of Congress to endorse a bill that seeks to help shield teenage terrorists from being arrested by the Israeli military.
The other enablers are, of course, the news-media outlets that downplay or even glorify teenage Palestinian violence. When Palestinian teenager Ahed Tamimi was released from prison this week after serving her sentence for assaulting an Israeli soldier, some major U.S. newspapers treated her like a hero.
Washington Post correspondent Erin Cunningham authored a sympathetic tribute disguised as “news.” She could barely contain her admiration for the assaulter: “As she spoke to reporters, Tamimi’s light, unruly curls fell over her black-and-white checkered scarf, long an emblem of Palestinian nationalism,” Cunningham drooled.
Imagine if an Israeli teenager was arrested for assaulting a Palestinian Authority security officer. Do you think Cunningham would be writing lovingly about her “light, unruly curls”?
Of course not! Because from the Quakers to J Street, from Congresswoman McCollum’s office to the “news” columns of The Washington Post, violent Palestinian teenagers are praised, coddled and encouraged—guaranteeing that their violence will only continue.
Stephen M. Flatow is a vice president of the Religious Zionists of America, an attorney in New Jersey and the father of Alisa Flatow, who was murdered in an Iranian-sponsored Palestinian terrorist attack in 1995. His book, “A Father’s Story: My Fight for Justice Against Iranian Terror,” will be published later this year.