Israeli reporter Carmel Dangor tweeted that the past 365 days is the first time since 1964 where no civilians in Israel were killed by a terrorist.
This is an incredible statistic that should make us all breathe a sigh of relief. Yet, there are two important caveats to this statistic that should give us pause; First, this statistic speaks to zero Israeli deaths, but does not speak to Israeli injuries, of which there were too many due to Palestinian terrorism. Second, this statistic doesn’t address the amount of Palestinian terrorist attacks. One might be misled and think that Palestinians have stopped their attacks. Palestinians attempt more than three terrorist attacks a day against Israelis.
This statistic merely speaks to how many Israelis have died. If the amount of Palestinian terror attacks haven’t decreased, what has caused fewer Jewish deaths?
I’d suggest two causes have led to less Jewish deaths this past year than any year since 1964. First, God’s protection. When a Palestinian terrorist aims his car at Israelis and hits the gas pedal and the car malfunctions or a group of Palestinians working on a bomb trigger it too early and blow themselves up (as happened yesterday to four intelligence challenged Palestinian terrorists) that’s God’s Providence defending His people. Second, Israeli security forces have gotten better and better every year. From the horrible years of the second Palestinian intifada when over 1,000 Israelis were dying each year to this year with zero deaths, the security forces have done a better and better job each year.
It is important to note that there is never any excuse for Palestinian Arab terror. Often excused by Palestinian sympathizers as “resistance,” terrorism isn’t political activism, it is hate based violence. 67% of Palestinian Arabs support violence against Israelis. That is a nauseatingly high number of people who support violence.
Where does Palestinian hate come from? Many will argue it doesn’t matter. They maintain that we should call terror wrong and leave it at that. I maintain that the only way to stop hate is to understand it. Hate isn’t just a terrorist attack. Violence is hate put into action, but hate is a philosophy. When you hear West Bank Palestinians call for an end to the state of Israel, and when Gazan Palestinians call for the death of Jews, you’re witnessing a philosophy of hate being articulated.
Many attribute Palestinian hate to Israeli “occupation” of land the Palestinians think is their land, or to Israeli policies in the West Bank, or to religious fanaticism directing hate towards the Jewish state. There are a number of problems with these excuses. First, characterizing Israeli control of Judea and Samaria as occupation is slander; Jews have every right to live and govern Judea and Samaria. Second, recognizing that when Palestinian Arabs speak about occupation, they aren’t referring to Judea and Samaria, they are referring to the whole of Israel as occupied. Third, Israeli policies in the West Bank towards Palestinians are fair and Israel doesn’t deny any human rights to Palestinians (those are denied by Hamas and the Palestinian Authority),
Besides all of the facts that undermine Palestinian sympathizers’ rationalizations for Palestinian terror, the fact remains that Palestinian terrorism precedes Palestinians even identifying as Palestinians. Palestinian hate towards Jews precedes Israel’s reunification of Judea and Samaria to the rest of the land of Israel in 1967, and it precedes Israel’s founding in 1948. Many like to draw a rosy picture and claim falsely that Jews and Arabs got along well before the “Nakba” and Israel’s founding in 1948. Just this week we commemorated the 1929 Hebron riots where Hebron Arabs shrieked “Death to the Jews” and murdered 67 Jews and injured hundreds. The fact remains that Palestinian hate and violence towards Jews doesn’t stem from Israel or its policies, it stems from the same antisemitism Jews have faced for thousands of years. Unfortunately we’re all too familiar with antisemitic hatred of Jews, and it’s easy for us to see through the political slogans, “freedom fighters” (sic) and protests, to know what Palestinian Arab violence and terror is based on – antisemitism.
This doesn’t mean that I expect Palestinians should be celebrating Yom Ha’atzmaut (Israeli Independence Day) and hanging Israeli flags. I understand Palestinian resentment towards Israel and Israelis. I understand what loss of dignity they feel and their frustration at a situation that doesn’t seem to be leading anywhere. I have written a great deal of my empathy for the Palestinian situation. But my empathy doesn’t excuse the deep-seated hate found in Palestinian communities, its schools, and the general support for terror found among the people.
I eagerly await a day when Palestinians and Israelis lead equally peaceful lives, with both taking advantage of all that Israeli and Palestinian culture has to offer. I maintain Zionism and the Israeli state can offer that to all people. Yet as long as Palestinian hate and violent terrorism continue it will never happen. The loss of opportunity for both people due to deep-seated hatred is the great tragedy of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.