My stomach churns as I write this, thinking of the horrific act of terror that was committed here in Israel this past Friday night. But while it churns for the disgusting details of that cowardly act, more so it churns in light of the world’s reactions to that act.

I try to make sense of how anyone can justify the murder in cold blood of a family quietly sitting down for a Shabbat dinner, celebrating the birth of a new grandchild. I wonder how anyone can honestly think and claim this (and the inevitable upcoming terror acts) started with a decision to add security to the Temple Mount. And I struggle to comprehend how anyone could even think such an act would be problematic.

But as I look at these marvels of incomprehensibility, and examine the waves of violence that have plagued this country for years, I start to notice some patterns. And I hope that exposing these patterns will allow people to see the truth more clearly, and take the appropriate actions.

Palestinian terrorists and their leadership have won world support by acting like the neighborhood bully.

They target unarmed civilians. Palestinian terrorists have slaughtered children, adults and senior citizens who were doing nothing more threatening than sleeping in bed, eating dinner or riding home on a bus or their own car. They’ve indiscriminately attacked Jews, Druze, foreign visitors and even other Muslims, not caring whether their victims were actually enemies. Because these victims had one other thing in common: they were unable to defend themselves.

Bullies pick on the weak. It makes them feel stronger, though in reality they only beat up the weak because they see them as easy pickings.

The Palestinians this past week have done a great job of focusing the world’s attention on metal detectors at the entrance to the Temple Mount. In response, the leadership has blatantly called for a wave of terrorism, calling for a “Day of Rage” and then a day of general escalation. Allegedly due to the placement of security to protect people (never mind that that security was shown to be necessary by the terrorist murder of two Israeli police by armed Arabs), the “logical response” is to riot. When a terrorist murders an Israeli, the claim is that it is a reaction to “the Occupation.”

During Operation Protective Edge, many Palestinian sympathizers claimed that Israel’s response was “disproportionate” to the provocation. But none of them seemed the least bit bothered by the fact that a suicide bombing or rocket fired at civilians is “disproportionate” to occupation.

You call a bully a mean name and he punches you in the face. He knows that no one will raise the issue of the fact that his response is disproportionate to the provocation. His victim is too busy tending to his bloody nose. He also knows you won’t point out that his response was unfair because you are scared that you’ll be next.

Once the bully has bloodied enough noses and blackened enough eyes, he has his power. He tells the rest of the neighborhood kids, “Give me your lunch money, or you’ll be next to get a beating.” It is no longer about a response, disproportionate or otherwise.

This week, the Palestinians and their apologists have warned: take down the metal detectors, or you’ll face a wave of terror. When, a half year ago, there was talk that Trump was even considering moving the US Embassy to Jerusalem, Mahmoud Abbas blatantly threatened: if you do, Israel will suffer unseen-before violence. Even Israelis plead with the government to “be practical” and “think of the consequences” to its actions and decisions, no matter how logical or justified they may be.

The PA, Mahmoud Abbas, and the Palestinian terrorists have successfully scared the rest of the neighborhood with the threat of, “Do what we demand or we’ll beat you up.”

And yet, like the bully’s young victim who decides to work out and study martial arts, but rather than defending himself becomes a bully too, the Palestinians have been able to keep the world focused on the fiction of Israel as oppressor. “I can’t be a bully. I was the victim of bullying!”

Do Palestinians suffer at the hands of Israel? Yes. But anyone who looks with open eyes at the root causes of that suffering knows that Israel is not the aggressor. Israel has only ever responded to Palestinian violence and terror, never initiated, and all escalations in that violence have come from the Palestinian side. Nothing would make the vast majority of Israelis happier then to live at peace with the Palestinians rather than make them suffer.

Those who study the historical perceptions of Israel in the world focus on a major shift that took place in the 1970s. The country, once viewed as the underdog surrounded by massive and powerful hostile neighbors, began to be seen as Goliath rather than David in relation to the Palestinian people.

It is time for another shift in perception. In every repetitive wave of violence that has struck this nation over the past decade at least, the Palestinians have shown themselves to be despicable and cowardly bullies. They target the weak, they escalate to disproportionate responses, and they use our fear of them to threaten us into capitulating to their demands.

But you defeat a bully by standing up to him, and by exposing him for the sham that he is. You make clear that he picks on the weak because it just makes him feel stronger. You refuse to give him your lunch money, because you know that he doesn’t really have the strength take it from you. And you defend yourself from his attacks as best as you can until he realizes that his efforts have not succeeded in getting him what he really wants.

Israel will survive and overcome the bullying of the Palestinians. There is no doubt to that. But a little bit more support would be nice. A recognition of who the unjust aggressors are would help. Not allowing the bullies to dishonestly “justify” their crimes by claiming to be the oppressed would be honorable.

When we allow the bully’s lies to convince us that cowardly violence is his legitimate response as a “victim,” we insult and weaken the genuine victims around the world.