OpinionIsrael-Palestinian Conflict

Palestinian hatred is caused by Palestinians

The claim that Israel’s anti-terror operations only create more terror is disproven by history.

Palestinian youth demonstrate their skills during a graduation ceremony of a military-style camp organized by the Hamas movement in Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip, Aug. 18, 2017. Photo by Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90.
Palestinian youth demonstrate their skills during a graduation ceremony of a military-style camp organized by the Hamas movement in Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip, Aug. 18, 2017. Photo by Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90.
Rabbi Uri Pilichowski
Rabbi Uri Pilichowski
Rabbi Uri Pilichowski is a senior educator at numerous educational institutions. The author of three books, he teaches Torah, Zionism and Israel studies around the world.

There is a quote falsely attributed to first Israeli Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion: “We must expel the Arabs and take their places. … And if we have to use force—not to dispossess the Arabs of the Negev and Transjordan, but to guarantee our own right to settle in those places—then we have force at our disposal.”

Ben-Gurion never said this. Instead, he wrote, “We do not want to and we do not have to expel Arabs and take their place.”

The difference between the fake and the real quote is telling. One falsely portrays Zionism as brutal and heartless towards Arabs. The other clearly shows the opposite.

The real quote is consistent with Zionist values. They are built on Jewish values, which emphasize that all people have been equally created in God’s image and must be treated accordingly.

Judaism does maintain that when an enemy comes to kill you, “rise up and kill him first.” This does not contradict the value of treating all people as equals. It simply prioritizes the preservation of Jewish life and the Jewish people. The State of Israel adheres to this value just as much as the value placed on equal treatment. In many ways, defending the Jewish people is the reason Israel exists.

Regarding Israel’s defensive actions, many critics point to a 2009 speech by American Gen. Stanley McChrystal. He spoke about a phenomenon he called “COIN Mathematics.” He said, “Intelligence will normally tell us how many insurgents are operating in an area. Let us say that there are 10 in a certain area. Following a military operation, two are killed. How many insurgents are left? Traditional mathematics would say that eight would be left, but there may only be two, because six of the living eight may have said, ‘This business of insurgency is becoming dangerous so I am going to do something else.’ There are more likely to be as many as 20, because each one you killed has a brother, father, son and friends, who do not necessarily think that they were killed because they were doing something wrong. It does not matter—you killed them. Suddenly, then, there may be 20, making the calculus of military operations very different.”

General McChrystal’s concept of “COIN Mathematics” leads critics to claim that by attacking Hamas and killing its terrorists, Israel is creating even more hatred against Israel. For every Palestinian terrorist killed, their reasoning maintains, another 20 Palestinians become terrorists. Thus, the critics claim, Israel’s efforts to stop Hamas and Palestinian terrorism are counterproductive and actually perpetuate the problem.

McChrystal’s COIN Mathematics have been largely accepted by scholars. But it isn’t a sound line of reasoning when applied to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. First, it assumes that Palestinian hatred of Israelis only begins when Israel responds to Palestinian terrorism. Second, it assumes that Palestinians can’t see past their immediate circumstances, take agency for themselves and leave their hatred behind.

COIN Mathematics was developed after America entered Saudi Arabia during the Gulf War and then Afghanistan and Iraq a decade or so later. Until then, it is claimed, few Saudis, Afghanis and Iraqis hated the United States. The hatred only developed after America’s actions.

But Palestinian hatred of Israel and Jews predates the founding of the State of Israel. The Palestinians’ first recorded antisemitic riots took place in the mid-1800’s, 25 years before the Zionist movement began and a century before the State of Israel was founded. Clearly, nothing Israel or Jews did created it.

Moreover, blaming Israel for Palestinian hate is a classic example of the soft bigotry of low expectations. The Palestinians can choose to give up terrorism and make peace with Israel. Their lives would immediately improve. Blaming Israeli policies for Palestinian terrorism assumes that the Palestinians lack the agency to make better choices.

Palestinian hatred of Jews was not caused by Israel. It long predated Israel’s founding. Palestinians have passed it down to their children for generations. Whatever Israel does, Palestinians will hate Israelis and Jews. We need to expect more from the Palestinians rather than blame their victims.

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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