‘Collective Responsibility’ for Terror

Israel responded to a Palestinian terror attack in Tel Aviv which claimed four lives by revoking 83,000 travel permits for Palestinians to enter the country during Ramadan. The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights suggests that response amounts to “collective punishment” and is, thus, illegal under international law.

High Commissioner Zeid Ra’ad Al-Hussein’s comments last week received a somewhat sympathetic ear in Washington, where State department spokesman Mark Toner refused to agree or disagree with his “collective punishment” characterization but noted the inconvenience that the travel ban would prove to Palestinians.

“We strongly support Israel’s right to ensure the security of its citizens,” Toner said, adding, “We hope that any measures that it does take will be designed to minimize the impact on the lives of Palestinian civilians who are going about their daily lives.” While “understanding the precautions and the understandable security measures that Israel is taking in the wake of these kinds of attacks,” Toner said the United States asks that “we don’t see measures taken that will add to tensions.”

Rather than fret that reasonable Israeli security efforts will somehow “add to tensions,” U.N. and U.S. officials should focus on the cause of ongoing slaughter in Israel – a Palestinian society that nurtures it. Rather than debate Israeli “collective punishment,” those truly interested in a path to Israeli-Palestinian peace should confront the reality of Palestinian “collective responsibility.”

“Oh armies of the Islamic nation, we are about to enter the month of blessing and victories,” Palestinian preacher Sheikh Ali Abu Ahmad declared of Ramadan in a May 20 address at the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, exhorting Palestinians to Jew-killing. “Oh Allah, protect the Al-Aqsa mosque from the filth of the Jews. Oh Allah, annihilate all the Jews! Oh Allah, enable us to kill them!”

What Palestinians hear in mosques, they start learning at a tender age in school – not only in Gaza, which is run by the terrorist group Hamas, but also in the West Bank, which is run by the “moderate” Palestinian Authority.

At a kindergarten graduation ceremony in late May in Gaza, by the Al-Quds class of the Islamic Al-Hoda kindergarten, children who were dressed in jihadi fatigues and holding toy assault rifles performed a show in which they pretended to kill or kidnap Israeli soldiers, launch mortars and plant anti-tank mines.

“Stab!,” a teenaged boy from Gaza urges the youngsters. “Kill the occupier with stones and knives. Use any available weapon. From the edge of fire, when the blood calls to arms, the morning rises.”

Around the same time – in a ceremony filmed by a TV station tied to the Palestinian Authority and posted online – graduating kindergarteners of a school run by a women’s charity in the West Bank town of Anabta wore military uniforms, held toy machine guns and paraded to a song that promoted violence toward Israel:

“On the mountains, behind the hills, within the valleys – you will be defeated, you will be defeated,” the song blared. “Whether you come by sea, or by air – you will be crushed, you will be crushed. If you stretch your hand, it will be chopped off. If you just look with your eye, it will be gouged out. The defeated army will be too terrified to come back. We come for you before, and woe betide you if we come back again. You come to this land alive, but you will leave it as body parts.”

With Palestinians of all ages taught to hate Jews and urged to kill them, we shouldn’t be surprised that Palestinian leaders condoned the Tel Aviv attacks, and average Palestinians – including the family of the two cousins who carried them out – celebrated them.

The recruitment and organization commission of Fatah, the Palestinian Authority’s main party, called the attacks “a natural and spontaneous reaction” to Israeli behavior, while former Palestinian Authority Minister Hassan Asfour termed them a “practical response” to Israeli President Reuven Rivlin’s recent visit to Jewish settlements in the West Bank.

In the Dheisheh refugee camp, young men marched in victory; in Tulkarem, residents distributed sweets. “We are proud of what the mujahedeen did,” the family of Tel Aviv terrorists Khaled and Muhammad Makhamra wrote on Facebook. “This effort is for the sake of our people and Al-Aqsa and the banner of ‘there is no god but Allah.’“

To state the crystal clear point that U.N. and U.S. leaders choose to ignore, no Israeli-Palestinian peace process can succeed in the face of a Palestinian society that teaches Jew-hating and urges Jew-killing.

Lawrence J. Haas, a senior fellow at the American Foreign Policy Council, is the author of the new book Harry and Arthur: Truman, Vandenberg, and the Partnership That Created the Free World.


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