The Sleeping Giant is Awake

I write this editorial as a frustrated 21-year-old. Maybe it is because I was raised in a household with Jewish values of life and peace, but I just do not understand how terrorists can drive vehicles into crowds at public transportation hotspots and the Palestinian leadership responds as if Israel is the aggressor while the rest of the world remains silent.

Two times in the past two weeks Palestinian drivers have deliberately crashed their vehicles into Israelis at Jerusalem Light Rail stations (not to mention a shoot and run outside of the Menachem Begin Heritage Center in Jerusalem or a hit and run in Judea and Samaria (the West Bank)). As a result, three Israelis have died while many more have been wounded. These acts of terror are a serious problem. Arguably though, the more serious problem is that the incompetent Palestinian leadership glorifies these terrorists while the world seems to ignore that Israelis are targeted indiscriminately. The double standard in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has been very apparent during the past two weeks. As this double standard reaches new heights, there are some fundamental facts that the world needs to be reminded of.

Israel is a democratic country. While it is not a perfect democracy, it is as close to one as there is in the Middle East. All democracies have their shortcomings, including the United States. When dealing with Israel, one must remember that they are judging it in comparison to Western democracies, not the dictatorships abundant with human rights violations we see in Iran, Syria, or many other Middle Eastern countries. The various forms of Palestinian leadership are not democracies. When was the last time there were elections within the regions of Judea and Samaria (the West Bank) governed by the Palestinian Authority? Mahmoud Abbas, who became President of the Palestinian Authority in 2005, is in the ninth year of a four-year term. Clearly, that is not democratic. Hamas is an internationally recognized terrorist group. Terror groups do not constitute as legitimate governments. Clearly, that is not democratic either. It is rather interesting that the Palestinian Authority and Hamas reached an agreement for a unity government over the summer on June 2nd, a week and a half before the sleeping giant of Palestinian terrorism awoke in full force with the kidnapping of three Israeli teenagers on June 12th. Based on this fact alone, it would not be far fetched to think that the Palestinians really have no interest in peace.

In the wake of the 1967 Six Day War, Israel had the option of taking complete control over all Muslim places that had been ruled by Jordan. As a way of extending an olive branch to the Palestinians (and by default Muslims throughout the Middle East), Israel allowed for the Jerusalem Islamic Waqf to maintain their stewardship over the Temple Mount. However, Israel wanted to ensure that Jews would be allowed to visit their holy sites in the Old City in the eastern part of Jerusalem, which had been cut off to them since 1948. For reasons only known to the Palestinian leadership, this olive branch has not been turned into peace. Last month, President Abbas called on Palestinians to defend Jerusalem using all means necessary. This verdict of aggression is not an endorsement of peace. Israel is not perfect but the majority of the problem does not lie with the Jewish State. The majority of the problem lies with the Palestinian Authority, whose true roots as the descendant of the Palestine Liberation Organization terror group are seeping through. If the global community were truly interested in a peaceful compromise, then they would denounce Palestinian incitement and call for open dialogue between the two sides.

I still believe that peace will eventually come. Maybe it is my youth, but I am firm in my conviction that the similarities between the Israelis and Palestinians outweigh their differences. Hopefully, the Palestinian leadership figures this out in time to prevent continued undue calamity and violence.

About the Author
Joshua Z. Lavine is a second-year MALD candidate at The Fletcher School of Law & Diplomacy at Tufts University, concentrating in International Security Studies and Southwest Asia & Islamic Civilization. Prior to Fletcher, he worked at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) for three years. Following his first year at Fletcher, he spent the summer interning at the Permanent Mission of Israel to the United Nations. Josh is from Scarsdale, New York and holds a BA in Hebrew & Judaic Studies and Journalism from New York University.