Opinion

To the media, not even an attack on a synagogue is terror

Apologetics for Palestinian terrorism are matched by the cluelessness of the State Department.

Israeli security forces and rescue forces at the scene of a shooting attack in Neve Yaakov, Jerusalem, Jan. 27, 2023. Photo: Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90
Israeli security forces and rescue forces at the scene of a shooting attack in Neve Yaakov, Jerusalem, Jan. 27, 2023. Photo: Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90
Mitchell Bard
Mitchell Bard
Mitchell Bard is a foreign-policy analyst and an authority on U.S.-Israel relations who has written and edited 22 books, including The Arab Lobby, Death to the Infidels: Radical Islam’s War Against the Jews and After Anatevka: Tevye in Palestine.

Seven Jewish souls were massacred by a Palestinian as they left their synagogue in Jerusalem on Shabbat. An act of terror? Not according to the media.

How unimportant does the media consider those lives?

Our friends at the New York Times, for one, found it more important to interview the father of the murderer than the families of the victims. Jerusalem bureau chief Patrick Kingsley mentioned that grieving Israeli families sat shiva while the family of their Palestinian killer expressed pride. “He’s a legend and hero,” the terrorist’s father told Kingsley. “I raised him well.”

Kingsley regurgitated the usual Palestinian justification for the murder of Jews—the Palestinians are being mistreated. Like other apologists for the Palestinians, it would never dawn on Kingsley that murder is not the only possible response to “occupation.” Nor does it occur to him that decades of terror have not brought the Palestinians any closer to statehood.

The word “terrorism” did appear once in Kingsley’s story. The context: Israeli officials admitting that the killer’s grandfather was killed in “an act of Jewish terrorism” (emphasis added). Kingsley acknowledged only that there are “armed Palestinian groups.” To him, Hamas is “the Islamist group.”

Like many journalists covering the latest violence, Kingsley equated dead Israeli civilians to Palestinian terrorists.

“All humanity should recognize the difference between a preventative assault on a terrorist cell and the massacre of civilians in a house of worship,” Palestinian activist Bassem Eid wrote in The Forward. Alas, journalists and other critics of Israel can’t make such elementary distinctions.

Kingsley and others who mentioned the Israeli operation in Jenin that preceded the Jerusalem attack omitted that all but one of those killed were terrorists. Journalists, for some reason, never ask why Palestinians allow terrorists to live in their midst, knowing they could be caught in the crossfire when Israeli forces act to prevent terror attacks. They also never ask why the Palestinian security forces do not prevent terrorism as the Oslo Accords require.

It’s easier for the media to talk about a “cycle of violence,” which suggests terrorism and counterterrorism are identical. But the media never suggests that a U.S. drone strike on a terrorist (never a “militant”) perpetuates a cycle of violence.

The “cycle” idea also implies there was no first shot that required a response. Journalists who believe history begins with their arrival on assignment don’t know that the murder of Jews in the Land of Israel did not begin with the “occupation.” It can be traced back to the religiously inspired murders instigated by the Mufti of Jerusalem in the 1920s.

Tellingly, the media glossed over the Palestinian celebrations of the Shabbat massacre. The headline of Kingsley’s story said only “some Palestinians exult.” Neither journalists nor diplomats appear to understand that Israelis have no interest in conceding anything to people who consider Jew-killers heroes and rejoice at their “martyrdom.”

Bassem Eid is the rare Palestinian activist who speaks the truth about his society.

“There is something deeply broken in a Palestinian street culture that honors violence against innocents, a culture in which some were filmed dancing in the streets and handing out candies after the 9/11 terror attacks,” Eid wrote in The Forward. “Multiple generations of Palestinian young people have been taught to hate Jews and Israel’s allies. Too much of the Western world has coddled this perverse cycle. Enough is enough. Palestinians and all those who truly support us must stand for humanity.”

One person who doesn’t seem to agree with Eid is U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken. In an all-too-familiar example of Arabist chutzpah, he stood next to the democratically elected prime minister of Israel and lectured Benjamin Netanyahu about democracy. He also implied that he knows better than the people of Israel what is best for Israel’s security—the two-state solution. You know, the one opposed by most Israelis and Palestinians.

Blinken embarrassed himself even more when he gripped and grinned with Palestinian Authority chieftain Mahmoud Abbas. Consistent with his morally vapid policy of evenhandedness, Blinken had the gall to equate Israeli and Palestinian feelings of insecurity while the latter seeks the destruction of the former.

After pontificating about democracy in Jerusalem, he said nothing in Ramallah about the P.A.’s complete lack of it. He treated Abbas like a legitimate leader rather than an autocrat who clings to power 19 years after his presidential term ended. While expressing concern about Israeli proposals for judicial reform, Blinken was silent about the legal system Abbas uses to punish his critics.

Blinken also said nothing about Abbas’s insistence on continuing to pay Palestinians to murder Israelis. Two such killers, recently released from prison, collected nearly $100,000 each from the “pay-to-slay” program. Instead of demanding an end to the policy and placing conditions on aid to the P.A., as required by the Taylor Force Act, Blinken boasted about the money the Biden administration has given the Palestinians—a U.S. taxpayer subsidy for the family of the perpetrator of the Shabbat massacre.

Following his meeting with Abbas, Blinken said the U.S. was giving UNRWA another $50 million on top of the $890 million already allocated. In the grand American tradition of pouring good money after bad, the administration is guaranteeing the Palestinian refugee issue will persist, the number of refugees will continue to increase exponentially, refugee camps will remain incubators for terrorism and the organization’s facilities will provide cover for Hamas.

I’m left with two questions: 1) Does any act of mayhem or murder committed against Israeli Jews qualify as terrorism? 2) Is there nothing that can convince the State Department that the Palestinians are interested in the destruction of Israel, not a two-state solution?

Mitchell Bard is a foreign-policy analyst and an authority on U.S.-Israel relations who has written and edited 22 books, including “The Arab Lobby,” “Death to the Infidels: Radical Islam’s War Against the Jews” and “After Anatevka: Tevye in Palestine.”

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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