As rational people we try to understand Palestinian terrorism by projecting reason onto the terrorists that would explain their anger. Like most projections, this one isn’t accurate. It assumes someone else’s behavior mirrors ours.
In a State Department report released this week, Israeli actions are blamed for Palestinian terror. “Continued drivers of violence included a lack of hope in achieving Palestinian statehood, Israeli settlement construction in the West Bank, settler violence against Palestinians in the West Bank, the perception that the Israeli government was changing the status quo on the Haram Al Sharif/Temple Mount, and IDF tactics that the Palestinians considered overly aggressive. (Country Reports on Terrorism 2016 Pg. 193)
Although it is absurd to blame terrorism on the victim, The Washington Free Beacon reported that, “A State Department official, speaking on background, defended the report’s conclusions and said that it cannot precisely pinpoint the motivations behind Palestinian terror attacks on Israel. ‘We recognize that in any community, a combination of risk factors can come together to create a higher risk of radicalization to violence, there is no one single pathway to violence—each individual’s path to terrorism is personalized, with certain commonalities. Therefore, it is difficult to pinpoint precisely what the sources of radicalization to violence are. What could drive someone to violence in one instance could vary significantly with someone else who is similarly situated.” (State Department Has Gone Rogue on Israel)
Incredibly the State Department report went on to absolve the Palestinian Authority of blame for its own terror. “The PA has taken significant steps during President Abbas’ tenure to ensure that official institutions in the West Bank under its control do not create or disseminate content that incites violence. While some PA leaders have made provocative and inflammatory comments, the PA has made progress in reducing official rhetoric that could be considered incitement to violence. Explicit calls for violence against Israelis, direct exhortations against Jews, and categorical denials by the PA of the possibility of peace with Israel are rare and the leadership does not generally tolerate it.”
Anyone remotely familiar with the region recognizes that the PA incites terror in many ways other than provocative comments. A recent Jerusalem Post article explained, “Impact-SE, a research center that monitors and analyzes education around the world and determines compliance according to UNESCO standards for tolerance reported that Palestinian Authority school books continue to promote violence and demonization of Israel and Jews. The curricula convey a message rejecting negotiations with Israel and promote a strategy combining violence and international pressure against Israel. It also promotes the “demonization of Israel and Jews, including the characterization of Israel as an evil entity that should be annihilated.” (PA textbooks support violence and demonization of Israel, Jews, report finds)
Recently, a former director general of the Ministry of Strategic Affairs and ex-head of the army’s intelligence and research division told a top Knesset panel that “The Palestinian Authority has paid out some NIS 4 billion — or $1.12 billion — over the past four years to terrorists and their families.” (Palestinians paid terrorists $1b in past 4 years, Knesset panel hears)
The State Department tried to make sense of Palestinian terror because its analysts can’t understand how human beings can act in such a barbaric fashion. The masses only react violently to feelings of harassment if their community and culture supports it. Without that support, the masses will hold back their feelings of anger. A person who is angered by their situation isn’t naturally pushed to terror; they make a decision to act violently or to channel their anger. Palestinians react violently to what they perceive as Israeli aggression not because Israeli actions push them to act violently, but rather because they have created an environment that promotes hate and supports violence. As US President Donald Trump told PA President Abbas, “Peace can never take root in an environment where violence is tolerated, funded or rewarded.”
Palestinian hate, violence and terror is of their making. Factors that anger Palestinians are not the cause of terror, they are the excuse for terror. While this absolves Israel of the State Department’s indictment, it also works against Israel. None of Israel’s actions will either increase or decrease Palestinian desire to act violently. Since the Palestinians are acting of their own volition, no matter what steps Israel takes – other than restricting Palestinian involvement with Israelis – Palestinian violence will continue. Palestinian terror will only stop when Palestinian culture rejects violence.