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November 28, 2014 10:57 am

Is Palestinian Terror Really Part of a Cycle of Violence?

avatar by Alex Margolin

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The Temple Mount atop Jerusalem's Old City. Photo: Dave Bender

The Temple Mount atop Jerusalem's Old City. Photo: Dave Bender

An emerging narrative about the current outbreak of Palestinian violence – which now includes a massacre of Jewish worshipers in a Jerusalem synagogue – is that it’s all part of a “cycle of violence.”

“A new cycle of violence has started, with no prospect of an end in the foreseeable future,” proclaimed The Independent in an editorial following the massacre.

“The distinction this time,” the paragraph continues, “is that the attack appears to be linked to pressure from ultra-Orthodox Jews to be allowed to pray at the site known to them as Temple Mount – which Muslims believe is the place where the Prophet Mohamed ascended to heaven.”

In other words, Jews demand the right to pray at their holy place and the Palestinians respond with a slaughter of Jews at prayer. And that, for The Independent, is a cycle of violence. The Israeli demand and the Palestinian terror are apparently both acts of violence in a cycle.

The Telegraph also calls it a cycle of violence, and describes it this way:

After Israel captured Jerusalem in the Six Day War, Muslim authority was allowed to continue on the Temple Mount, leading to a ban on Jewish worship there. Increasing numbers of activists ascended to the Temple Mount to pray, including Israeli parliamentarians. This contemporary challenge to the status quo by Israel’s far-Right drove instability throughout Jerusalem.

Tensions escalated in October with the shooting of Yehuda Glick, an advocate of Jewish prayer on the Temple Mount. Disorder was beginning to spill over from east Jerusalem into west Jerusalem.

Overnight, Jewish prayer on the Temple Mount blossomed from a fringe issue – mainstream Orthodox Judaism forbids prayer there – to a burning political question of freedom of religion. This poured fuel on the flames of already-escalating violence.

Again, there is Palestinian violence  – the shooting of Yehuda Glick. And there is the Israel part – Jews turning “prayer on the Temple Mount” into “a burning political question of freedom of religion.” And that’s what poured fuel on the fire.

Besides being factually wrong, the media’s insistence that what’s happening is a cycle of violence – rather than a barrage of Palestinian terror – carries a moral failure. If there is a cycle, then both sides are equally guilty.

And if both sides are equally guilty, then the brutality of the Palestinian attack is mitigated. There is no reason to call out the Palestinians for ongoing attacks…because it’s all a legitimate response for something those Israelis are doing.

The cycle of violence narrative obscures the reality of the situation and limits the power of the international community to intervene to calm tensions. It also negates the possibility that an attack like the one on the Har Nof synagogue is a case of unprovoked violence. If the violence is unprovoked, it can’t be part of a cycle.

Therefore, everything Israel does is called an act of violence, even if it’s self-defense, retaliation for unprovoked violence, or even a call for freedom to pray at Jewish holy sites.

This article was originally published by HonestReporting.

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