‘Politico’ Writer Indicts Israel for Palestinian Violence
On June 8, 2016, two Palestinian Arabs murdered four Israelis and wounded more than a dozen others in a terrorist attack at Tel Aviv’s Sarona Market. But one self-described analyst, Ben Ehrenreich, knows who is really to blame for the terror attack: Israel itself.
In his op-ed, “How Israel is Inciting Palestinian Violence,” which appeared in Politico, Ehrenreich asserted that Israel and its “occupation” were responsible for Palestinian “humiliation” and “despair” — and that this is what fuels terror attacks. To craft this narrative, Ehrenreich relied heavily on omissions and a questionable source.
He used the word “occupation” repeatedly, but failed to inform readers that Israel gained the West Bank in self-defense during the Arab-initiated 1967 Six-Day. That is, the “occupation” came into existence after Arabs sought, but failed, to destroy Israel. Moreover, Arab attacks against Israel long predated the 1967 war and resultant occupation. There are many examples, including the 1948 War of Independence in which five Arab states rejected a United Nations partition plan that would have offered a “two-state solution,” choosing instead to go to war to eradicate the fledgling Jewish state.
The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), the umbrella organization currently led by Palestinian Authority President and Fatah movement head Mahmoud Abbas, was created in 1964, three years before the 1967 war. What “occupation” was it seeking to “liberate”?
Ehrenreich claims that “despair bred by Israel’s occupation” is to blame for anti-Jewish violence. He omits that Palestinian leaders have rejected offers to end the “occupation” and create a state on numerous occasions — including in 2000 at Camp David, 2001 at Taba, and 2008 after the Annapolis conference, among other instances.
Why? Not that Ehrenreich acknowledges it, but it’s because Palestinian leaders have asserted that they consider the Jewish State’s existence to be an “occupation.” In an October 28, 2015 speech to the UN Human Rights Council, PA President Abbas said as much.
Contrary to Ehrenreich’s claims, recent history suggests that a unilateral Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank would only lead to more terror. Israel, lacking a committed peace partner, withdrew from Southern Lebanon in 2000 and from the Gaza Strip in 2005. In both instances, US designated terrorist groups, Hezbollah and Hamas, respectively, turned those areas into launching pads for future wars and terrorist attacks.
Ehrenreich also neglects to mention that Israeli forces largely withdrew from West Bank population centers after the 1993 Oslo diplomatic process began. They returned only when forced to in 2002 following the first year and a-half of deadly violence in the Second Intifada. This “uprising” erupted after Palestinian leaders chose bloodshed over statehood.
Even Palestinian leaders disagree with Ehrenreich’s pronouncement that “despair bred by Israel’s occupation” is to blame for terrorist attacks. Ismail Haniyeh, the head of Hamas, the US-designated terrorist group that rules the Gaza Strip, said in a January 19, 2016 speech that, “This intifada is not the result of despair. This intifada is a jihad.”
Ehrenreich similarly misled Politico editors and readers by claiming the so-called “stabbing intifada” underway since September was “uncoordinated and outside the control of the Palestinian leadership or the traditional armed factions.” In fact, Palestinian leaders — including Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas — have repeatedly incited and rewarded anti-Jewish violence. In a September 16, 2015 speech on official PA TV, Abbas exhorted, “We welcome every drop of blood spilled in Jerusalem. This is pure blood, clean blood, blood on its way to Allah.”
Ehrenreich spends the majority of his 2,184 word commentary airing claims of Israeli abuse of Palestinian Arabs made by Eran Efrati, whom he identifies as a “former Israeli soldier” who became “an anti-occupation activist.” Efrati has engaged in speaking tours on college campuses with a supporter of the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement that seeks to delegitimize and destroy the Jewish state. No other source is cited.
Noting Palestinian leaders’ history of incitement and rejectionism would require acknowledging their independent agency and motivation instead of infantilizing them as only Israeli victims. It would mean an acknowledgement that Palestinians are responsible for the terror attacks they carry out against Israelis — and that Palestinian leaders are responsible for their rejections of statehood. T.S. Eliot famously asserted “humankind cannot bear very much reality.” For Ehrenreich, that’s not very much at all.
Sean Durns is Media Assistant for the Washington D.C. office of CAMERA, the 65,000-member, Boston-based Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America.