A little perspective. In terms of Palestinian terrorism, nothing new or surprising happened last week. It was a spate of incidents. So on one hand, there is no need for a hysterical response, but on the other, it’s good that the public responded with an uproar, because that is the only way to compel the Israeli government to act with the necessary responsibility in the mid and long terms, rather than the reckless addiction to temporary calm that is the result of a lack of political courage. In hindsight, it turns out that the rioters in Lod, Acre, and on the roads of Arad in May 2021, and the terrorists in Beersheba, Hadera, and Bnei Brak now, are forcing the government to deal with what it and its predecessors this past generation should have prevented through responsible policies.
Palestinians have been indiscriminately killing Jews for over 100 years. Since the Palestinian people emerged, prior to any foundational event or after it – the establishment of the state of Israel, the 1967 Six-Day War, Oslo and Camp David, the Second Intifada, the disengagement from the Gaza Strip. Always: when the Palestinians are in distress and when they are flourishing; under the mufti, Yasser Arafat, and Mahmoud Abbas; in the midst of a peace process and when peace talks are frozen; under supportive US administrations and US administrations that ignored them; in the territories and inside the Green Line. Perpetrators of terrorism are ignorant and education, poor and well-off, religious and secular, Muslim and Christian, men, women, children, motivated by nationalism or by personal troubles, citizens of Israel, residents of Jerusalem, residents of Gaza, residents of the West Bank and the Bedouin sector.
Palestinians have an inherently high motivation for violence. It is a violent society, under Israeli rule and outside it, even toward its own. Murderers of Jews (shahidim) are the main role models, who are honored and financially rewarded based on the number of Jews they kill. This stems from the Palestinian national ethos, which describes a historical compromise (a retreat from the demand for “right of return”) as a betrayal and sanctifies the “sacrifice” of preventing a violent struggle that will go on for generations. Only ongoing forcible prevention (the Shin Bet security agency and IDF thwart attacks based on high-quality intelligence) and deterrence can hold terrorism in check, combined with awareness of a critical blow to what happens to perpetrators of terrorism and those around them, as dealt by Operation Guardian of the Walls.
The absence of forcible prevention is perceived as helplessness, which invites violence. This is what happens when the government, for years, is afraid to take action against thousands of armed Bedouin rioters in the Negev, against agricultural crime, against protection schemes and against expressions of solidarity with the enemy in a time of war. It happens when in matters that pose a threat to leaders of society, courts impose absurd, not to say irresponsible, punishments and the prosecutorial authorities suggest scandalous plea bargains. The government also transfers billions to Arab local authorities without ensuring that the money won’t be diverted to criminal organizations via the clans. Rather than dealing with eroding deterrence in a generation that has no memory of Operation Defensive Shield in 2002, Israel continues to accept vandalism of the security barrier and stops oversight over entry of hundreds of thousands of members of the people fighting against it. To “keep things calm,” Hamas is being allowed to rebuild its strength after Guardian of the Walls so it can recover for the next conflict, while sending tens of thousands of laborers into Israel. The price of the addiction to the supreme goal of “calm today” is an incalculable eruption “the day after.”
So it’s good that the public is outraged. Not because of the 11 people killed, but because it is starting to lose faith in its governments. They have allowed the Bedouin the take over the Negev, the violent lawlessness in Arab society, and legitimization of terrorism among Arab citizens. The violent Arab society and political culture are mainly responsible for these perversions, but the government is responsible for suppressing violence.
Now we need to force the government to repair the security barrier, oust Palestinians in Israel illegally, forcibly put down Bedouin rioting – including the massive encroachment on state-owned land – and issue severe punishments to people who participate, for example, in mass events in Umm al-Fahm that identify with the murderers of two police officers on the Temple Mount in 2017. Legislators much make it clear to prosecutors and judges that their role is to protect victims of terrorism, not show empathy for the perpetrators. Honest Arab citizens, who want to integrate into society, will welcome this wholeheartedly.