A picture may be worth a thousand words, but what happens when that picture contradicts the very article it accompanies?

That’s what the editors at The New York Times should be asking themselves in regard to their Oct. 26 article concerning Israel’s recent counterterrorist operations.

Times correspondent Isabel Kershner reported that the IDF has targeted “the Nablus-based militia known as the Lions’ Den, which emerged this year.”

Well-organized, heavily armed terrorist groups do not suddenly “emerge.” Moreover, the Palestinian Authority’s leadership has heaped the same praise on the Lions’ Den that it has heaped on other terrorists. So, my bet is that the name “Lions’ Den” is just a fig leaf to disguise the fact that these terrorists are connected to the P.A. itself.

Acknowledging that the terrorists are connected to the Fatah Party, which is led by P.A. chieftain Mahmoud Abbas, could endanger U.S. aid to the Palestinian Arabs. Pretending that Lions’ Den is not part of Fatah allows the aid to keep flowing.

Kershner claimed that the Lions’ Den “does not answer to any of the established Palestinian factions.” I don’t know how she could possibly know who they answer to. In any case, before long, the full truth about the Lions’ Den will come out.

In the meantime, let’s consider Kershner’s fascinating explanation as to why “many Palestinians” support the “new” terror group. According to Kershner, it is “in part because Israel’s occupation of the territory [Judea and Samaria] has dragged on for more than a half-century and become increasingly entrenched.”

This is where the fascinating photograph accompanying the article comes in. It showed numerous Palestinian Arabs in full battle gear, with their faces masked, brandishing automatic rifles during a recent public funeral procession “in the occupied West Bank.”

Think about that for a second. Would the Israeli police or army ever permit Palestinian Arabs waving rifles to march through Tel Aviv or Jerusalem? Of course not. If the Israeli army still “occupied” the Palestinian-populated areas of Judea and Samaria, would it permit terrorists to operate so freely and brazenly? Again, of course not.

So, while Kershner tells us that Israel’s “occupation” of Judea and Samaria is what causes Palestinians to support the Lions’ Den, the photo accompanying her article shows a scene that would be inconceivable if Israel actually was occupying them.

The solution to this contradiction is simple: In reality, Israel is not occupying the Palestinian-populated areas. Back in 1995, Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin withdrew all Israeli forces from the cities where 98% of Palestinian Arabs reside, constituting about 40% of the entire territory.

The reason terrorists in Judea and Samaria are able to march freely in funeral processions and on other occasions is precisely because there are no Israeli occupation forces there. No Israeli soldiers. No Israeli governor.

But it’s not as if these areas lack a government. It’s called the Palestinian Authority. It runs the schools, the courts, the media, the unions and the security forces. It is under the auspices of the P.A. that rifle-waving terrorists are parading in the streets—even though its security force is one of the largest per capita in the world.

So here are a few questions for the reporters and editors of the Times to ponder, if they would take a moment to consider the significance of the photograph they just published:

  • Why won’t the P.A. arrest terrorists?
  • Why won’t the P.A. disarm and outlaw terrorist groups?
  • Why won’t the P.A. stop calling terrorists heroes?
  • Why won’t the P.A. stop paying salaries and bonuses to imprisoned terrorists and the families of dead terrorists?

I would suggest that the answers to these questions are considerably more urgent than Isabel Kershner’s tortured and unsuccessful attempt to answer the question, “Why do Palestinian Arabs support the Lions’ Den?” We know the real answer to that question. It’s not because of a non-existent “occupation.” It’s because Palestinian Arab society glorifies violence against Jews. It is no more complicated than that.

Stephen M. Flatow, is an attorney in New Jersey 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 Terrorism.

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