The Incitement Must End

This is a guest post by Stephen Hoffman

On Sunday October 9 2016, after a busy day with family I sat down to catch up with the events of the day across the world. I’ve always been interested in the world around me and given my job I feel it’s my duty to be as informed as possible about events in Israel and the wider Middle East.

My heart sunk when I read that there had been a terrorist shooting in Jerusalem, reminding me of how I felt when I was last in Israel and heard about the Sarona Market attacks. Since October 2015 a wave of terror has hit Israel, with this infographic from BICOM providing the details of the terrorism Israel has faced.

As highlighted by the infographic many Israelis have been killed and injured, just because they are Israelis. Palestinian terrorists are brought up on a diet of hating Israelis, and in many cases, hating Jews. That motivation led to the murder of two Israelis in Jerusalem on October 9 2016.

We can often become desensitised to terrorist attacks and forget that behind every person murdered is a personal story. Therefore, I’ve written below about those who died in Jerusalem.

Levana Malahi was 60 and had contributed much to Israel in her role as a Knesset worker. Tragically she leaves behind three children and six grandchildren. The cruelty of a terror attack really hits home when you consider how it tears families apart, in this case grown up children who will never have the chance of talking to their mother again and grandchildren who will not get to experience the love of their grandmother.

Yosef Kirma was 29 and was recently married.  As a Police Officer he put himself in the service of the people of Israel and Jerusalem. As part of this, he responded to the terror attack in Jerusalem and lost his life. He died as a hero, as thanks to his efforts and those of his fellow police officers, countless other Israeli lives were saved.

I am fed up of Israelis continuing to die in terrorist attacks, with a world seemingly responding to every terror attack in Israel with mealy mouthed condemnations and calls for Israeli restraint. This ignores the fact that incitement has caused this terrorism, and that this incitement has been either condoned or led by Fatah, an organisation lauded across the world as Israel’s partner in peace. On top of this the President of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, has recently hosted the family of a terrorist who had died of a heart attack and called him a hero. The person who Abbas called a hero murdered Israelis in a terrorist attack in 2003, as you can read here.

I support the two state solution and am prepared to condemn Israel when its leaders take steps that harm peace, yet I’m fed up of an international community who infantilise Palestinian leaders, treating them like babies who can do no wrong. Given this, it’s unsurprising that Fatah and the President of the Palestinian Authority couldn’t bring themselves to condemn the latest terror attack.

I saw the culture of incitement in August 2015 when I visited a refugee camp in the Palestinian Authority. Across the walls were pictures of Hamas terrorists. In the hall there were three prominent maps, 1917, 1947 and 1967. The maps showed all of Israel as part of Palestine, including Netanya and Tel Aviv. Then we heard from a young Palestinian lady, who kept getting Zionists and Jews confused, and believed all Jews from Israel were colonialists from Europe, ignoring that over 750, 000 Jews were kicked out of Middle Eastern and African nations, and were taken in by Israel. I don’t blame her; it’s what she’s been educated to believe. However, having seen what I’m seen, I understand how incitement has been the driver of the latest round of terrorist attacks. Whilst this incitement goes on, the prospects of peace which I yearn for will remain just that, prospects.

For peace to have a chance incitement must stop. It also means showing our solidarity with the victims of terrorism and that is why I’m urging people to sign We Believe in Israel’s Statement which will be given to the Mayor of Jerusalem, Nir Barkat about the terrorist shootings in Jerusalem on October 9 2016. You can sign it here.

So what can be done to help end incitement? Quite a lot actually! We can start condemning social media posts from Fatah praising terrorists, speak out against Palestinian Authority TV preaching hatred of Israel and not ignore the refusal of leaders of the Palestinian Authority to condemn terrorist attacks. That means stating that if the Palestinian Authority wants to continue receiving aid from bodies like the IMF, the World Bank and the UN, it must show concrete evidence of a commitment to ending incitement. Perhaps then, the message might get through that incitement of terrorism won’t be rewarded, but punished.

Fatah and the PA can either be the reasonable face of Palestinian nationalism, funded and given practical support by the international community and treated as a responsible partner in the peace process. Or they can incite terrorism and eulogise terrorists. They can’t continue to do both.

Stephen Hoffman is the Campaign Executive for We Believe in Israel and tweets at @thehoff102.