It’s Time to Raise Our Expectations

December 13, 2017

A Jewish security guard is in critical condition after a 24 year-old Palestinian man stabbed him in the chest. The footage of the attack is graphic and difficult to watch.

Since President Trump’s decision Wednesday to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, Palestinian and Arab leaders have responded with threats of violence and outright incitement.

“The ball of fire will roll until an intifada will break out,” said Hamas leader Salah al-Bardawil. Another senior Hamas official has called for an intifada “in the face of the Zionist enemy.” As a reminder, the last intifada took the lives of more than 1,100 Israelis.

In an interview with the New York Times, one Palestinian student said “The Palestinians will unite and raise hell.” Unsurprisingly, calls to violence beget violence.

It has been this fear of violence that has prompted policy experts, world leaders, and other government officials to condemn the move by the Trump administration. Who can blame them? They have seen the same violent response time and again. They are merely relaying the information they have acquired after years of observing the conflict; that any perceived “change” to the status quo will result in violence.

Jews praying at the Western Wall in Jerusalem in the 19th century. Source: Pinterest

Of course, the move is not really a change to the status quo. West Jerusalem has been the capital of Israel since 1948, and a bill reaffirming a unified Jerusalem as Israel’s capital was passed in 1980. The Jewish people have seen Jerusalem as their spiritual capital since ancient times. Bipartisan US governments since President Clinton have endorsed moving the US embassy to Jerusalem. In the hands of Israel, Jerusalem has given all three Abrahamic traditions (Islam, Christianity, and Judaism) the ability to worship freely. In an attempt to conflate a political issue with a religious issue, many across the Arab world have been fed the narrative that the Jews wish to “Judaize” Jerusalem. Time and again, archaeological finds have confirmed ancient Jewish roots in Jerusalem and Jews have constituted the largest ethnic group [in Jerusalem] since 1820. “Judaizing Jerusalem” is an oxymoron.

Rather than confronting the issue of incitement to violence, the most serious (and obvious) obstacle to peace, the world has infantilized the Palestinian government and its people, and accepted the notion that violence is an appropriate means of venting political frustration. It is patronizing to hold any group to a different moral standard than one holds themselves to. We would never attempt to defend murder or hate crimes in our own countries. Why then would we attempt to do so on behalf of the Palestinians?

Incitement on Palestinian social media to encourage Palestinians to commit stabbing attacks

The only way to justify the morality of an action is to measure it against one’s own sense of morality. If, under any other conditions, or in any other location, Molotov cocktails, rocket fire, attacks on Jewish (not Israeli) establishments in Amsterdam and Sweden, and stabbing attacks violate our moral compass, then it is imperative that we hold those who carry out these attacks responsible for their actions and perhaps more importantly, condemn those who incite these attacks from the safety and comfort of their desks.

A Palestinian hands out candy in the streets to celebrate the murder of an Israeli by a Palestinian attacker.

The complexity of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is undeniable. Solving the issues of the conflict require us to elevate our expectations of the Palestinians. Violence is antithetical to peace. It is time we responded to incitement as though we believed this fact to be true.

Contributed by Liel Asulin, Campus Coordinator for CAMERA.

Leave a Reply