One day’s headlines reveal the entire Israeli-Arab conflict

by Stephen M. Flatow
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You can only live in the Middle East if you accept reality.

(JNS) Sometimes, you just have to glance at a single day’s news headlines to learn everything you need to know about the Israeli-Arab conflict. Take last Friday, for example.

In the Palestinian Authority-ruled town of Hawara, Israeli security personnel attempted to arrest a fugitive terrorist. Other Palestinian Arabs jumped in, “trying to pull him free,” as the Israeli media reported. Funny thing—critics of Israel are always claiming that the masses of Palestinian Arabs are moderate and want peace. If that’s the case, they should be delighted when terrorists are arrested. Yet in Hawara on Friday, and in many other instances, they have violently interfered with attempts to capture terrorists.

The Hawara suspect stabbed and wounded two of the Israelis before being subdued. You won’t hear any protests from J Street over the stabbing or see any angry columns in The New York Times by Thomas Friedman. It seems trying to stab Israeli police officers to death is an acceptable mode of behavior if you’re a Palestinian Arab. Talk about the soft bigotry of low expectations…

Meanwhile, there were Palestinian Arab shooting attacks on Israelis in Yabed and Jenin. Once again, Israeli soldiers were carrying out routine, peaceful arrests of terrorists—something the P.A. is obligated to do, but never does—and once again, the Arabs responded with gunfire. Fortunately, the terrorists were killed and the Israelis weren’t. Of course, the headlines in the international news media will read “Palestinians Killed by Israel” rather than “Palestinians Killed While Trying to Murder Israelis.”

In Shechem (Nablus) the same day, Israeli security forces tried to arrest a fugitive terrorist. According to Israeli news reports, Arabs in the city responded by shooting at them, “hurling explosives” and trying to stone the Israelis to death. All in one morning! As usual, the P.A. security forces were nowhere to be found.

That’s not all. Near the Jewish community of Ofra, north of Jerusalem, Palestinian Arab terrorists opened fire with automatic weapons on a group of Jews committing a terrible crime—driving while Jewish. It was an ordinary civilian bus, traveling its regular route, providing a service that is open to Arabs and Jews alike—yet the Arabs decided that the Jews deserved to be slaughtered for doing so.

Another shooting at a civilian vehicle was in the news on Friday. A Palestinian Arab terrorist was convicted of participating in a shooting attack on an Israeli automobile in 2015, murdering a young man named Malachi Rosenfeld and wounding three other passengers.

According to Israeli media reports, the terrorist, Maad Hamed, was actually detained by the P.A., but then somehow “escaped.” That is, escaped through the P.A.’s notorious revolving-door justice system.

The media described Hamed’s home town, Silwad, as “a Hamas stronghold.” That’s another blatant violation of the Oslo Accords—there aren’t supposed to be any Hamas strongholds anywhere in P.A. territory. The reason the United States helped build the P.A.’s security force into one of the largest per-capita security forces in the world is to prevent terrorist groups from developing strongholds in the territory the P.A. governs.

Yet the P.A. has never outlawed Hamas, disarmed its cells or arrested its members. The P.A. treats Hamas like brothers, not enemies.

One more interesting thing about the Rosenfeld murder. The cell’s leader, Ahmed Najar, ran the operation from Jordan, where he resides. Why does “moderate” Jordan allow anti-Israel terrorists to operate from its territory, in blatant violation of the Israel-Jordan peace treaty?

Now let’s see what Friday’s headlines tell us about how the Biden administration is responding to this ongoing Palestinian war against Israel. This week, the U.S. established a new “Office of Palestinian Affairs” within the American embassy in Jerusalem, appointed Palestinian-American Hady Amr as its “Special Representative for Palestinian Affairs” and reaffirmed its intention to open a U.S. consulate in Jerusalem, which Israel opposes because it would function as a de-facto embassy to the P.A. So, the Palestinians wage war—and the U.S. leans in, on their side.

Meanwhile, U.S. Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), who is known to be close to President Joe Biden, announced that “the Biden administration is in the process of doing everything they can to try to limit the potential for damage of the inclusion of these extremist elements within [Benjamin Netanyahu’s] governing coalition.” Strange—I don’t recall Sen. Van Hollen or the administration pressing the last Israeli government to exclude the extremist, Islamist Arab party Ra’am. I wonder why there should be such a double standard.

One last item from Friday’s news: When the Israeli election results ensured that Itamar Ben-Gvir would be part of the new government, the United Arab Emirates—one of the Gulf kingdoms that signed the Abraham Accords—angrily warned Netanyahu against including Ben-Gvir. But this week, the UAE held a reception in Tel Aviv and, lo and behold, Ben-Gvir was one of the guests in attendance.

The incident illustrates how little the Biden administration and others in the West understand about the Arab-Israeli conflict. Arab governments often holler and bluster, but then they adjust to reality. Remember all the threats that there would be massive bloodshed if the U.S. moved its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem? Well, the U.S. ignored the threats and moved the embassy, and nothing happened. Likewise, the UAE’s threat about Ben-Gvir was ignored, and the UAE has accepted the new reality. That’s how life works in the Middle East.

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