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November 11, 2014 11:29 am

What To Do About Car Terrorism?

avatar by Stephen M. Flatow /

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PA car terror ads. Image: Twitter.

PA car terror ads. Image: Twitter.

JNS.orgAs I prepare for an upcoming visit to Israel, I can’t help but feel a twinge of apprehension. How could it be otherwise? The recent vehicular terrorist attacks in Jerusalem inevitably make every visitor to the city wonder who will be the next victim.

On Oct. 22, a Palestinian terrorist rammed his car into a crowd at a Jerusalem light rail station, murdering two people, one of them a 3-month-old baby. On Nov. 5, another terrorist used his van as a weapon against pedestrians at another light rail station in the Israeli capital, killing one person and wounding more than a dozen others.

The seeming randomness of the attacks is particularly terrifying—exactly as the killers intend. The attacker doesn’t need any bomb-making skills or expertise as a sniper. He doesn’t have to elude security check points or Israeli army patrols. All he has to do is get in his car and step on the gas pedal. He can strike anywhere, any time.

And yet if you walk down any street in Jerusalem this morning, you will see Israelis going about their daily lives as they always do. They don’t seem especially worried. They’re not going to stop taking the train. They know that a crowd at a bus stop or outside a movie theater or on a corner waiting for the green walk signal could be targets too. Life has to go on. Israelis don’t worry because they have no choice. Visitors worry because they do. They can and will soon return to their home countries, where standing on a street corner is not a life-endangering action. That is a difference between the lives of Americans and Israelis that can’t be bridged.

Yet there is another, and very important, difference. The average Israeli can’t do much about Palestinian terrorism. But the average American Jew can.

Israelis have little choice but to rely on the police and the army to continue doing everything possible to preempt the terrorists in their on-going genocidal war against them. American Jews, however, have the ability to take political action that could make a real difference in the fight against Palestinian terrorism.

Let us recognize that “car terrorists” do not simply appear out of nowhere. Abdel Rahman al-Shaludi, who carried out the Oct. 22 attack, had twice served time in prison for terrorist activities. His uncle, Mohiyedine Sharif, was a senior Palestinian terrorist who was killed in an intra-Arab feud in 1998. Ibrahim al-Akari, who perpetrated the Nov. 5 attack, was the brother of Musa al-Akari, who was convicted in the kidnap-murder of an Israeli border policeman and was freed in the Gilad Shalit prisoner exchange.

Al-Shaludi and al-Akari are the products of a society, and a culture, in which murdering Jews—whether by bomb, knife, or automobile—is praised and rewarded. Remember “It Takes a Village,” the children’s book by then-U.S. Senator Hillary Clinton? She argued that it is not just the immediate family that influences a child, but also one’s neighbors, culture, and community standards.

What influenced Abdel Rahman al-Shaludi and Ibrahim Akari to become “car terrorists”? One source was the Palestinian Authority’s leadership and social media.

Exhibit A: Sultan al-Einen. He’s a senior adviser to Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas and a member of the Central Committee of Fatah, which is the largest faction of the PLO (the PA’s parent body) and is also chaired by Abbas. He’s not quite the Palestinian equivalent of Valerie Jarrett or (until recently) David Axelrod, but he’s up there.

Palestinian Media Watch has compiled a long list of statements by Einen praising terrorists. But the one that attracted the most attention was his public praise, in May 2013, of a terrorist who stabbed to death an Israeli father of five. Einen said the killer was a “heroic fighter” and called for “blessings to the breast that nursed him.” In response, five members of Congress—Republican Ed Royce (Calif.) and Democrats Eliot Engel (N.Y.), Nita Lowey (N.Y.), Ted Deutch (Fla.), and Brad Sherman (Calif.)—wrote to Abbas, demanding that he fire Einen.

Abbas ignored the letter.

After the car attack by al-Shaludi two weeks ago, Einen publicly hailed him as a “heroic martyr” and charged that Israel “murdered him in cold blood.” Fatah’s Facebook page is replete with cartoons extolling “car terrorism” and urging viewers to “Hit the gas at 199 [km/h] for Al-Aqsa.”

Now is the time for American Jews to ask those five members of Congress to take action—not just another letter that Abbas will ignore, but the imposition of penalties that Abbas cannot ignore. Here’s one idea: from now on, deduct the cost of medical treatment for victims of Palestinian terrorism from the $500-million that the U.S. gives the Palestinian Authority each year. Make them pay for the damage they cause.

There are many other ways in which American Jews, working closely with friends in Congress, can force Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinian Authority to stop praising and glorifying terrorists. That would be the first, important step in the process of changing the culture in Palestinian villages that is raising children to become “car terrorists.”

Stephen M. Flatow is a New Jersey attorney whose daughter Alisa was murdered in a 1995 bus bombing by the Palestinian terrorist group Islamic Jihad.

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  • Lenny HAT

    Place stricter controls on issuance of driver’s licenses. For example, if you’ve spent time in jail for terrorism-related charges, you shouldn’t be trusted behind the wheel of a car. Especially now. Also — terrorism aside, consider that there are too many traffic fatalities in Jerusalem. Lower the speed limit in Jerusalem to 25MPH, as was recently enacted in NYC, specifically to reduce deaths by auto. Cars that speed up from 25MPH will become easier to target as terrorist vehicles, and easier to escape from on foot.

  • Emanuel

    In AMERICA, if car terrorism ever surfaces we won’t hesitate to shoot the terrorist on the spot and go right back to doing what we were doing. In Israel, the situation is far more dire, Israelis are torn between fighting for normalcy and fighting real terror; as soon as their guard goes down the enemy exploits the weakness. As Americans we should not be equivocating terrorists with good people because in America citizens know the difference and will shoot if you try to run us over; that’s to protect life no explanation needed.

  • Karl Elshoff

    Mr. Stephen Flatow your article “What to do About Car Terrorism” could go even further. With 1400 years of history it should be obvious that Islam is a hate group. Islam draws its ideology from their self declared profit Mohammad and his followers. If we blame the community rather than the ideology then we miss the mark.

    Here in the United States Islamist have access to schools and universities, military enlistment, government services and support. If Islam got labeled a hate group like the Ku Klux Klan or Nazism then this dangerous ideology has a chance at being stopped.

    Because their profit Mohammad and his followers were violent in the spread of Islam any attempt at promoting “peaceful Islam” is inviting a Trojan Horse — It will only succeed in giving the radicals cover.

  • Nochum F

    Don’t just write these 5 congressmen… write your own congressman and senators and demand a million dollars be deducted for each such incident.

  • Scott

    How about just ending the funding to the Palestinians altogether and take them to court to be held accountable both criminally and economically for their murderous actions.

  • alexander


  • Mickey Oberman

    Israelis need not be helpless.

    Sometimes when the laws are ignored or are ineffective the population is obliged to take the law into their own hands. It is called vigilante law and is often a last resort of the desperate.
    It is not an ideal solution but it may very well be the only one.

    When the government and/or law enforcement agencies will not or can not act in defence of the people their inaction drives the population to become vigilantes.
    I can see this happening in Israel beginning, perhaps, on The Temple Mount where justice has given way to Muslim anarchy.

    The timidity of the government in reacting to Jordan’s failure to properly and fairly manage The temple Mount could very well inspire and justify Israeli vigilantes throughout the country. And I think they would have the moral and physical support of most of the world’s Jews.

    Israeli vigilanteism would have to be blamed entirely on the failure of the government to take decisive and prompt action.

    Mickey Oberman

  • Nothing but the truth

    Might I suggest if you’re concerned about your trip to Israel, just act like most Israelis & shove your head up your ass.

  • Lucille Kaplan

    This piece does a wonderful job of identifying and connecting the multiple forces that have opened the door to the new style of terrorism that is murdering Israelis daily, as they attempt to lead normal lives. I especially value Mr. Flatow’s plea for Americans to press the five named members of Congress to seek real penalties, by the U.S., against the political entities that are inciting these murders. I would add only that Congressman Royce has already, to his great credit, sponsored a well-crafted bill that would have frozen U.S. aid to the Palestinian Authority pending cessation, by the Authority, of its rabid and longstanding incitement to terrorism. Alas, that proposed legislation, like prior versions of it, have not yet gotten very close to passage, but perhaps Mr. Flatow’s plea will renew the energy needed for more successful work in this direction.

  • Efram

    If only someone would listen.