‘If There is a Third Intifada, We Want to Be the Ones Who Started It’
“If There is a Third Intifada, We Want to Be the Ones Who Started It”
—New York Times Magazine Cover Story (Illustrated), March 17, 2013
“The most ghastly incident was at Hebron. There was a Jewish population there of over 700 people, an ancient community centred on a Talmudical college. Armed bands intent on slaughter reached Hebron on the 24th [August 1929]. The police were Arab and they stood passively by while their fellow Moslems moved into the town and to deeds which would have been revolting among animals. There was an inn…where some Jews had fled for safety. The Arabs killed and dismembered 23 of them with daggers and axes in an upper room, so that, according to a witness, blood ran down the stairs and soaked through the ceiling… This was not half of the crime…” (Christopher Sykes, Cross Roads to Israel: Palestine from Balfour to Bevin [Collins, 1965], pp. 118-19.)
Since one explanation of the recent “knifing intifada” is that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has encouraged (if not actually started) the killing — in order to extract from Secretary of State John Kerry and President Barack Obama every concession imaginable from an administration that believes “settlements” are not only “Illegal” but also the sole and always justifying cause of Arab and Muslim violence against Jews — in Israel and also across Europe, it is time for a history lesson.
In 1929, there were no “occupied territories” or “illegal settlements.” Indeed, there was no Jewish (or Arab) state in British Mandatory Palestine at all, and the Jewish population of Hebron was largely a non-Zionist one. Nevertheless, Arab hysteria about “the Wailing Wall” — as the British authorities called the Temple Mount area, Judaism’s holiest site — had ignited Muslim fury against the Jews.
The antecedents to Arab rioting had been two-fold. First, the British had granted a small group of Jews permission to pray on the occasion of Tisha b’Av, the holiday commemorating the destruction of the Temple. Second, a Jewish boy had accidentally kicked a football into an Arab garden: seeing this as the hand of Zionism, the Arabs proceeded to murder the boy — with knives. Shortly thereafter, the Mufti and the Supreme Muslim Council brought to the city a mob of Arab peasants “armed with clubs and knives. A few of them had firearms. The mob rushed out into the streets of Jerusalem and attacked every Jew they could see.”
The British authorities refused the request of Zionist groups to arm Jewish men or to deploy Jewish police. In the days following, Jewish communities from Jerusalem to Haifa, as well as the south, were laid waste, with the savagery reaching its peak in the aforementioned massacre in Hebron. Since Obama and Kerry and their circle of advisers and sycophants are so ignorant of history that they hear no warning echoes when they celebrate the “deal” with Iran for having brought “peace in our time,” a history lesson is never superfluous with this bunch.
Speculation, bordering on hopeful anticipation, about the arrival of Intifada Three, has been rife for years in the Obama administration and among its journalist acolytes. For a very long time they alleged that “illegal settlements” are actually the cause of all the disturbances in the Middle East. As recently as October 2014, Kerry blamed Israeli “intransigence” for the emergence of ISIS. But such allegations have become embarrassing now that the entire Middle East, in large part due to the collapse of American policy there, is in flames and millions of its citizens are overrunning Europe. Rare is the person who can any longer sort out the varieties of fanaticism that have set Sunnis against Shiites, “moderate” rebels against Syria, Arabs against Persians and every man’s hand against his brother’s. So the Obama administration has been forced to reduce, somewhat, the enormity of its accusations against Israel, but hardly to abandon them: now the Jews are to blame not for all of the world’s evil, only for the fact that even its own Arab citizens and most of their cousins harbor a deep-seated desire to murder their Jewish neighbors.
In November of 2013, Kerry specifically threatened, in an interview with England’s Channel 2 television, “chaos” and a “third intifada” if Israel’s “peace talks” with the Palestinian Authority (PA) fail. “Failure of the talks will increase Israel’s isolation in the world,” Kerry warned. “The alternative to getting back to the talks is a potential of chaos. I mean, does Israel want a third intifada?
“I believe that if we do not resolve the issues between Palestinians and Israelis; if we do not find a way to find peace, there will be an increasing isolation of Israel. There will be an increasing campaign of delegitimization of Israel that’s taking place on an international basis. That if we do not resolve the question of the settlements and who lives where and how and what rights they have; if we don’t end the presence of Israeli soldiers perpetually within the West Bank…”
Such remarks, which offered license to attack Jews in any way possible, including, or rather especially, ways that count as war crimes — the more imaginative the better — could hardly have gone unnoticed by Abbas and Hamas.
They also knew that “Intifada Three” could be sure of powerful support and nimble apologetics at The New York Times. Jodi Rudoren, Jerusalem bureau chief for the Times, jumped the gun slightly when she suggested in 2014 that the third intifada might already have arrived as “the car intifada,” in which Arab drivers expressed their innumerable grievances by running over Jewish pedestrians with their cars or larger vehicles. Rudoren’s specialty, as everybody knows, is the licentious equation between Muslim murder and Jewish misbehavior. Best-known examples include her likening the Arab murder of four Jews in a Jerusalem synagogue to Jewish graffiti on a mosque; or Iranian to Israeli treatment of dissident journalists. Recently she also weighed in, on October 17, with a tawdry piece of agitprop entitled “East Jerusalem Bubbling over with Despair” that linked the knifing murders to inadequate municipal services in East Jerusalem. But will her relentless apologetics for Israel’s adversaries insure her own safety now that the “real” third intifada seems to be underway, with indiscriminate stabbing at its core? Or will she find herself in the predicament of Shakespeare’s Cinna in Julius Caesar? (Cinna is the unlucky poet who is mistaken by the “firebrands” who come to mourn their murdered emperor for another Cinna. He insists, but to no avail, that he is not “Cinna the conspirator,” but Cinna the poet. Will Rudoren be saved from the knife-wielder by insisting that “I am Rudoren, the anti-Israel Jew; I am not Rudoren the Zionist”? Good luck to her.)
Difficult as Rudoren’s detractors may find this to credit, she has actually been less passionate in her predictive yearning for Intifada Three than have her editors at the Times, who must at this moment be ululating with glee, perhaps handing out candy. On March 17, 2013, they published in their Sunday magazine section a lavishly illustrated cover story entitled: “If There Is a Third Intifada, We Want to Be the Ones Who Started It,” by Ben Ehrenreich. He qualified himself to offer this modest proposal for politicide four years earlier, by publishing an article in the Los Angeles Times entitled “Zionism Is the Problem.” Not only, he alleged there, did it prevent harmonious relations between Jews and Arabs — it introduced into a region well-known for its rich ethnic and religious diversity a monolithic Jewish state, which must, by definition, be “exclusive” or else practice “ethnic cleansing.”
Ehrenreich’s obsession with the potentiality for Jewish ethnic cleansing, Jewish religious fanaticism and Jewish “apartheid” contrasted sharply with his entire indifference to the actuality of what the surrounding Arab and Muslim nations had already achieved at a cost of hundreds of thousands of lives, in all those lines of endeavor. He set forth the compelling urgency of politicide (dissolution would be too weak a word) for the ill-conceived and uniquely evil country called Israel. Surely the Jews were not “entitled” to a homeland just because they had had a rather rough time of it during World War II and earlier.
The New York Times Magazine spread portrays with love, sympathy and even adoration the villagers (without exception charming “people like you and me”) of Nabi Saleh in the disputed territories who, so Ehrenreich hoped, could provide manpower for the next intifada. The Second Intifada, lest we forget, killed over a thousand Israelis and maimed ten times that number in acts which, to borrow Sykes’ words about Hebron in 1929, “would be revolting among animals.” The photos on the Times’s cover (itself called “depraved” by Seth Mandel in Commentary) included at least two children among the budding heroes and heroines of the hoped for “Third Intifada.” One of them, 11-year-old Ahed Tamimi, had already been honored by Turkey’s frenzied, Jew-hating Prime Minister Erdogan (Barack Obama’s “favorite European leader”) for her much-photographed provocations of Israeli soldiers. Another member of the Tamimi family, Ahlan, remains “much loved in Nabi Saleh.” And why? The parents of another child, Arnold and Frimet Roth, explain:
That’s all he [Ehrenreich] writes about Ahlan Tamimi but we can tell you more. She is a Jordanian who was 21 years old and the news-reader on official Palestinian Authority television when she signed on with Hamas to become a terrorist. She engineered, planned and helped execute a massacre in the center of Jerusalem on a hot summer afternoon in 2001. She chose the target, a restaurant filled with Jewish children. And she brought the bomb. The outcome (15 killed, a sixteenth still in a vegetative state today, 130 injured) was so uplifting to her that she has gone on camera again and again to say, smiling into the camera lens, how proud she is of what she did. She is entirely free of regret.
This little detail about “much loved” Ahlan is missing from Ehrenreich’s saints’ tale. Also missing is a quotation of the raison d’être of Hamas: to kill Jews, wherever they may be found.
The question that entered my mind when reading Ehenreich’s adoring portrait of these trainees in “resistance” to the “occupation” was the following: “Couldn’t something like this celebration of past and potential murderers of Jews have been published in the Dearborn Independent?” My first reply was “of course.” This hateful paper, which was financed by Henry Ford from 1919 to 1927 and reached a circulation of 900,000 in 1925, has long been considered the most antisemitic of American newspapers. But my second reply was “no, not really — the Dearborn Independent stopped short of explicitly inciting murder of, or violence against, Jews.” Moreover, publisher Henry Ford apologized in 1927 in an open letter to Louis Marshall of the American Jewish Committee for “the wrong done to the Jews as fellow-men and brothers” by his paper. He asked “their forgiveness for the harm that I have unintentionally committed.”
Will the Sulzberger family ever do the same? Probably not — for New York Times editors know no limits where the “Palestinian” issue is concerned. For them, the dividing line between moral and immoral, permitted and forbidden, is like the receding horizon; they keep moving toward it, but can never quite reach it. The knife-brandishing, blood-lusting Boanerges in their mosques, and the demagogic leaders of Hamas and the Palestinian Authority, can be as confident of apologias for Intifada Three in the editorial offices of the Times as in the State Department of John Kerry and the boardroom of “Team Obama” — three of the places where it was predicted and thus encouraged.
Edward Alexander’s most recent book is Jews Against Themselves (Transaction Publishers, 2015).