Western denial on roots of Palestinian slaughter
Much of Britain's media and political class reverted to shabby, old form after the latest Palestinian terror attack. It was similar in Europe and America. But Israelis are being killed just because they are Jews. It is staggering that the post-Holocaust West doesn't get it
Tuesday's horrific murder of five people in Jerusalem is yet another stark reminder of the senseless terror war unfolding in Israel. Four of the five victims were religious Jews engaging in the pious act of morning prayer. They were in a supposedly safe and sacred environment, far removed from the turbulent world of international politics.
But like other recent victims, which have included a three month old baby, they were deemed legitimate targets because they were Jews. The other victim was a Druze policeman cut down in the line of duty. But just as Benjamin Netanyahu insisted, quite rightly, on an unequivocal condemnation of terror, much of Britain's media and political class reverted to form.
In a fit of moral equivalence, Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond called on both sides to 'de-escalate the situation and reduce the tension' in the city which was becoming dangerous 'for both Palestinian and Jewish communities'. But the terror attacks have come from one direction only - the Palestinian side. The tension in the city has stemmed from incessant incitement by both Hamas and Fatah, the twin sections of the Palestinian movement.
By contrast, the Palestinians that have been killed are terrorists cut down after committing acts of violence. To compare the two is obscene.
For the BBC, this violence had to be seen in the context of the 'hopelessness' now engulfing Israelis and Palestinians alike, particularly in the absence of 'the peace process'. The fact that the perpetrators of recent attacks have largely been supporters of Hamas (which rejects peace talks as unIslamic and calls for the genocide of the Jews) or the PFLP (which also opposes negotiations and favours a one state solution), was conveniently overlooked.
For good measure, the Palestinian grievance of 'new settlements' in Jerusalem was also mentioned. Indeed for some hours, prior to a much needed correction, the BBC's Ben Brown was reporting that the synagogue was in 'East Jerusalem' as if to emphasise that this attack might have stemmed from a legitimate grievance after all. The synagogue was in West Jerusalem, behind the green line.
The Economist, in an attempt to put recent events in context, spoke of 'Jewish militants' wanting to extend prayer rights at Temple Mount. No doubt they had in mind Yehuda Glick, a rabbi who was recently shot by a Palestinian terrorist, and who has elsewhere been characterised as a 'right wing activist'.
Yet Glick’s only crime was to insist that Jews have the right to pray at Temple Mount, the holiest Jewish site in the world. He did not seek to deny Muslims their religious rights.
Yet this obvious point did not stop Tory ex-Cabinet Minister Baroness Warsi from comparing the perpetrators of yesterday's massacre with Jewish protestors in Jerusalem. In a quite astonishing tweet she wrote: "Israeli extremists storm Al Aqsa & intimidate worshipers. Palestinian extremists storm synagogue & kill 4 worshippers.”
For one thing, no Israelis had stormed the mosque and her intellectually deficient and obscene equivalence between protestors and murderers armed with pistols and meat cleavers was condemned by Conservative Party chairman, Grant Shapps.
But the causal linkage has been made in other news outlets. For Channel 4 News, the recent violent attacks have been 'fuelled by a dispute over Jerusalem's holiest shrine', with specific mention of 'Orthodox Jewish campaigners... challenging the long-standing ban on Jews praying at the site'.
This linkage was even clearer in the Independent. 'A new cycle of violence has started...the distinction this time is that (yesterday’s) attack appears to be linked to pressure from ultra-Orthodox Jews to be allowed to pray at the site known to them as Temple Mount...' Again, the implication is that the victims have upset the status quo and brought the violent conflagration upon themselves.
But what is now unfolding in Jerusalem, and elsewhere in Israel, is not linked to the behaviour of individual Jews. Israel's government has not encouraged religious protests, peaceful as they are, and it is not about to change the status quo at the Temple Mount which has long favoured Muslim worshippers. The violence is the product of a vile campaign of slander, distortion and religious hatred that has been promoted by both wings of the Palestinian movement.
For Hamas, all Jewish Israelis, wherever they live, are accursed 'infidels' who are accused of defiling sacred Islamic soil. Their removal is seen as a holy duty. It is no surprise therefore that sweets were distributed in Gaza yesterday when news broke of the Jerusalem slaughter.
But the West's darling, the 'moderate' Mahmoud Abbas, is equally guilty of stoking up the Palestinian street to frightening levels of incendiary violence. Two months ago, he made the ludicrous but toxic charge that Israel was committing “a war of genocide” against the Palestinians.
Then in a ceremony last week to mark the tenth anniversary of Yasser Arafat's death, Abbas accused Israel of igniting a “religious war” over the holy city by allowing activists to go to Temple Mount. He has also referred to Jews as a “herd of cattle” trying to “desecrate” the al Aqsa mosque.
The PA media has fanned the flames of hatred even further by publishing cartoons that glorify Palestinian murderers. One such cartoon, published in a bi-weekly The Capital City, portrayed Yehuda Glick as a snake while its front page gave prominence to Glick's assailant, Mutaz Hijazi. Abbas himself wrote a condolence letter to Hijazi's family which spoke of how the terrorist 'rose to heaven while defending our people's rights and holy places'.
The terrorist was praised as a shahid or martyr. In the days leading up to yesterday's attack, Fatah officials were speaking quite openly about the need for “sacrifices and blood”.
Put simply, this amounts to a religious war against the Jews of Israel, using the vilest forms of defamation and distortion to create a frenzy of violence and anger.
Yet barely an iota of this appears in the British or Western media. Instead it is 'orthodox Jews' who are blamed in a wholly grotesque inversion of the truth. Is it any wonder that this conflict is so poorly understood in the West?
Jeremy Havardi is a journalist and the author of two books, Falling to Pieces, and The Greatest Briton
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