Over a year ago, on a bright Sunday morning in Gush Etzion, a 16 year old Palestinian teenager paced back and forth between an Israeli supermarket and a falafel stand. He was hiding a knife on his body and steeling himself to commit the most dastardly act known to man – murder. He tried to calm himself by ordering a falafel. Hila Peretz, the falafel store owner, was happy to serve him. The shopping center where this took place was known as a gathering place for both Jews and Arabs, settlers and Palestinians, and Hila treated all her customers the same.
That morning Ari, the dutiful husband, had gone with a shopping list from his wife to the supermarket. Taking his car keys and wallet he also took his handgun. Not that he expected trouble, but in Judea and Samaria it’s better to be safe than sorry. As Ari finished his shopping and exited the supermarket, the teenager took his knife out, lunged at Ari and stabbed him. In a fit of adrenaline and bravery, Ari chased the Arab teenager, shot him and saved everyone else in the area, including Hila Peretz, from being stabbed. He then sat down, bled out and died.
The teenager was sent to the hospital, recovered, brought to trial, convicted and will spend decades in jail. I hope he never sees the light of day, and as harsh as this next sentence might sound, I wish Israel had the death penalty for terrorists like Ari’s murderer. I have taught teenagers for twenty years. I’ve had students who committed crimes but I’ve never had a student who carried out a terror attack. Ari’s murder wasn’t an act of crime, it wasn’t an act of a deranged juvenile delinquent. Ari’s murder was committed by a teenage terrorist. How does a teenager become a terrorist?
A teenager only devolves into a terrorist if they’re educated to become evil. Palestinian teenagers growing up in Gaza and the West Bank are inundated with pro-terror messages; Imams, teachers and parents laud terrorists as heroes and role models. Palestinian society calls terrorists shahids – martyrs, name city squares after them and the Palestinian Authority pays generous monthly salaries to terrorists – on a sliding scale based on how many Jews they’ve killed. When a teenager grows up in an environment that encourages terror they are incentivized to commit terror. It is no wonder then that Palestinian society is producing terrorists.
When Ari Fuld was murdered by a Palestinian teenage terrorist something should’ve changed. But like so many attacks before his, nothing really changed after Ari’s murder. We can stop terror. There are no more suicide bombings of buses like there were in the 1990’s and early 2000’s. To stop bus bombings Israel took a decisive step. Against world fury we built the security barrier. We swallowed global criticism because we knew the barrier would make Israel more secure.
Yet terror attacks like Ari’s stabbing persist. We haven’t done enough to stop them. I’m not suggesting collective punishment, but the Palestinian community has a problem with incentivizing terror and it needs to stop. Israel and the world should force the Palestinian Authority to stop incentivizing terror. UNRWA textbooks should be changed to stop praising the killing of Jews, city squares should be renamed, and the Palestinian Authority should be forced to either end or bankrupt the despicable “pay to slay” fund.
Hamas rockets aren’t being stopped. We know where the rockets are being kept. We bomb the locations when rockets are fired at Israel. But aerial bombing can’t destroy every rocket depot. We hesitate sending in ground forces because of potential soldier losses a ground operation will incur. No one wants soldiers to die, but right now the Israeli citizens of the Gaza envelope are bearing the brunt of Hamas’s rocket fire. That isn’t fair to them. A citizen’s role isn’t to bear the brunt of the enemy’s fire, that’s the role of the military until it can use enough force to stop the attacks. The reversal of roles is wrong. Israel needs to re-enter Gaza, search for and destroy the rockets aimed at Israel.
Instead of seeing things change we’re just seeing the same policies. The Palestinian Authority and community still incentivizes its people to commit terror. Israel isn’t shutting down Palestinian Imams, teacher and community leaders that encourage or laud terror. Thankfully Congress shut off the spigots to the Palestinian Authority and the Trump Administration cut off aid to worthy causes but avenues that allowed the Palestinian Authority to divert funds to terror support. Yet last week we saw Presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren call for refunding UNRWA, the very organization teaching terror in its schools! As if that wasn’t enough, Senator Bernie Sanders called for sending military aid from Israel to Hamas run Gaza! Both omitted any mention of safeguards to ensure American money won’t be used for terror.
A year after Ari’s murder I expected the Palestinian connection to terror to change. Yet, nothing has changed. Instead of the Palestinian Authority being forced to change, the world continues to show it sympathy over their lack of a state. I want the Palestinian people to enjoy self determination, but as long as the Palestinian Authority continues to support terror it does not deserve its own state. If people were truly sympathetic to the Palestinian cause, they’d recognize the necessity of changing the Palestinian relationship to terror. The world needs to talk less about a Palestinian State and more about a Palestinian transformation to a peaceful entity. It’s the least we owe Ari and victims like him.