Opinion

Jenin, Jerusalem and intentional false equivalence

American Islamists and media figures are whitewashing Palestinian terrorism and slandering Israel for defending itself.

Security and rescue forces at the scene of a deadly shooting attack in Jerusalem's Neve Ya'akov neighborhood, Jan. 27, 2023. Photo by Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90.
Security and rescue forces at the scene of a deadly shooting attack in Jerusalem's Neve Ya'akov neighborhood, Jan. 27, 2023. Photo by Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90.
Ariel Behar
Ariel Behar

American Islamists are equating Friday’s terrorist attack that killed seven Jews at a synagogue in the Neve Yaakov neighborhood of Jerusalem with the deaths of nine terrorists last week in firefights with Israeli security forces.

“Israel and the US bear the full responsibility of the killing of 10 Palestinians & injury of 24 others yesterday in Jenin refugee camp,” Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) Executive Director Nihad Awad wrote Friday. “And yet the US @StateDept shamelessly condemns only the killings of Israelis.”

MSNBC anchor Ayman Mohyeldin also expressed outrage at Western media coverage of the incidents.

“Just a reminder, as the Western media now begins to urgently and extensively cover the attacks in Jerusalem, in which at least 8 Israelis were killed, that 30 Palestinians (9 on Thursday alone) who have been killed in 2023,” wrote Mohyeldin.

Neither man mentioned why the violence took place or who was targeted.

The Jenin operation specifically sought to detain Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) members who fired on IDF troops. Officials also learned that PIJ was planning imminent major terrorist attacks.

Upon entering Jenin, IDF soldiers immediately came under intense gunfire, the Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center said. In addition, surveillance video released by the IDF shows Palestinians throwing explosives and firebombs from rooftops.

Of the nine people killed, four were PIJ terrorists, two were Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades members and one was a police officer.

The rare daytime raid is a reflection of how seriously Israeli officials took the intelligence about an impending major terrorist attack.

The IDF said it was looking into claims concerning additional casualties during the exchange in Jenin. At least one Palestinian civilian, an elderly woman, was killed in the crossfire.

That is tragic. It was clearly unintentional, however, and happened only because Jenin is a haven for terrorist activity. Israel’s choice is to mount operations such as these or wait for more of its civilians to be murdered.

That’s what happened Friday evening in Neve Yaakov. After the terrorist attack at the synagogue, two more people were shot and wounded Saturday morning by a 13-year-old Palestinian in Jerusalem.

In one case, members of a terrorist group lost a fight with Israeli security forces. Any civilian casualties were unintended tragedies. In the other, killing civilians was the objective. The more dead, the better.

In Judea, Samaria and Gaza, people doled out sweets and launched fireworks to celebrate the murder of Jews.

On Facebook, the anti-Israel group Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) blamed Israel for the terrorist attack that killed its own citizens, saying it was “clear that the Israeli government has launched a new phase of state violence against Palestinians.”

The terrorists, to JVP, bear no responsibility.

But others, like Rutgers University Associate Professor Noura Erakat, could not get over the fact that news organizations issued alerts after the Jerusalem shooting, but not following the Jenin raids.

“I don’t mean to be d**kish about this,” a post Erakat retweeted said, “but I received no such phone alerts from @NPR or BBCNews when Israeli apartheid-enforcing militias massacred 9 Palestinians in Jenin yesterday. In fact, I never get such alerts when Palestinians are murdered.”

Erakat also accused Israel of murdering “29 Palestinians in 26 days,” without mentioning any terrorist connection or activity. “Yesterday’s assault on Jenin was a massacre. Who will protect Palestinians?”

Erakat’s sentiments were picked up and disseminated more widely by Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.).

“I may be the only Palestinian American in Congress,” she wrote, “but I will never stop reminding folks that our country is funding an apartheid regime that is killing Palestinian children & families. We honor the victims of the Jenin massacre by telling the truth about the apartheid gov’t.”

There’s nothing in Tlaib’s tweet indicating that she is referring solely to civilian casualties. Instead, a member of Congress put in writing her desire to “honor” those who died before they could kill.

These efforts to label the Jenin counterterrorism operation a “massacre” are reprehensible, but not new.

Israel conducted similar counterterrorism operations in Jenin in 2002. They followed a series of brutal Palestinian terrorist attacks, including a suicide bombing at a Passover Seder that killed 30 people, mostly elderly.

Reports of a “massacre” surfaced immediately following the 2002 raids and media outlets falsely reported that as many as 1,000 Palestinians were killed. The death toll was ultimately changed to 56. Of them, at least half were members of terrorist groups.

These consistent omissions regarding Palestinians who die at Israeli hands are intentional. A “Palestinian youth” killed by Israeli forces sounds a lot worse than a PIJ terrorist dying in a shootout. Social media warriors understand that, even if PIJ has no problem showing the world the truth.

“This squad [in Jenin] was a ticking time bomb,” a senior IDF officer told reporters. “If we didn’t act, they would have.”

Had that happened, more innocent Israeli civilians would be dead, and the same terrorists likely would have been killed by Israeli forces. In that circumstance, we wouldn’t hear voices like Nihad Awad, Ayman Mohyeldin and Rashida Tlaib condemning anything.

If your biggest concern in the wake of Jenin and Jerusalem is a paucity of telephone alerts, it might be time to reevaluate your values.

Ariel Behar is an Investigative Project on Terrorism research analyst. Research analyst Teri Blumenfeld contributed to this report.

The opinions and facts presented in this article are those of the author, and neither JNS nor its partners assume any responsibility for them.
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