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A Disaster for J Street?

avatar by Stephen M. Flatow / JNS.org

Opinion

Friends and family mourn during a funeral service for Yehuda Guetta, 19, an Israeli who died of his injuries after he was wounded earlier this week in the Israeli-occupied West Bank by an alleged Palestinian gunman, in Jerusalem May 6, 2021. REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun

JNS.org – Everything about the murder of Israeli teenager Yehuda Guetta shatters the myths and lies that are used by groups like J Street to promote the Palestinian cause. In a fair world, the killing and its aftermath would be an utter public-relations disaster for the Jewish left. But in the real world, things likely will turn out rather differently.

Let’s start with the ironic timing. Last week, J Street announced its support for legislation by Rep. Betty McCollum (D-Minn.) to penalize Israel for arresting teenage Palestinian terrorists. But just a few days later, it’s three Israeli—not Palestinian—teenagers who are the victims.

Nevertheless, neither J Street nor its allies on the left, such as Americans for Peace Now and Partners for Progressive Israel, issued even one press release to condemn the attack on the three Israeli teens. Oh, they have had plenty to say in recent days—like condemning the Jewish community for criticizing the Human Rights Watch “apartheid” smear against Israel. But not a single press release about the gunning down of Israeli teenagers.

Still, not a single journalist seems to have asked them about their silence, or about the contrast between their deep interest in the fate of teenage Palestinian terrorists and their utter indifference to the fate of teenage victims of Palestinian terror.

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When feasible, many on the Jewish left try to minimize or rationalize Palestinian terror by emphasizing that the Israeli victims were “settlers.” That line won’t work this time. Guetta, the murder victim, was a resident of Jerusalem. The two other teens who were shot are residents of Beit She’an and Tzfat. Meaning they all come from cities within the pre-1967 armistice lines. They weren’t “occupying” any Palestinians.

The shooting took place at a bus stop in an area which, according to the Oslo accords, is within Israeli-administered territory. It wasn’t in the area governed by the Palestinian Authority. The teenagers were not intruding on somebody else’s turf. They were waiting for a bus in exactly the area where the PA agreed they could wait when the PA signed the Oslo agreement.

Now let’s talk about what happened when Israeli forces pursued the shooter. Israeli soldiers tracked the shooter’s car into the Palestinian Arab village of Aqraba. That’s a PA-controlled town. It’s been under exclusive PA rule for the past 26 years. It’s not “occupied.” There are no soldiers, no settlers.

J Street and company have been telling us for decades that as soon as the Israelis withdrew from Palestinian Arab areas like Aqraba, peace would follow. The whole problem, they said, is that Palestinians resent having to see Israeli “occupiers” every day. Well, the Israelis left Aqraba in 1995. So presumably the residents are now peaceful and opposed to terrorism. They should have welcomed and assisted the Israeli soldiers who pursued the shooter into their town.

Instead, local Arab mobs tried to stone the soldiers to death. Then they tried to destroy evidence linking the shooter to the shooting by burning the car in which he had escaped. In short, the behavior of the Aqraba residents shatters all the myths that J Street has been spreading. But not a single journalist has asked them about that.

The Israelis captured the shooter anyway. And once again, everything about him confounds what the J Streeters have been telling us for years. The terrorist, Muntasir Shalabi, comes from the town of Turmus Ayya—again, a town under PA control. There are no soldiers or occupiers or settlers bothering Shalabi or his neighbors. He wasn’t responding to “oppression.” He left his PA-run town to go hunt for Jews in the areas that the PA itself agreed should be administered by Israel.

Not only that, but Shalabi’s demographic profile is all wrong. The Jewish left always portrays Palestinian terrorists as young people who are unemployed or come from broken families. They want it to seem as if Palestinian terrorism is caused by socioeconomic problems, not Jew-hating ideology.

Well, guess what? Shalabi is 44 years old. He’s married. He’s a family man. The problem is just that he hates Jews. I wonder if that could have anything to do with the anti-Jewish hatred pumped 24 hours a day throughout the PA’s newspapers, radio broadcasts, television stations, movie theaters and schools. It’s in their air. It’s in their water.

Apologists for the Palestinians are already spreading rumors that Shalabi recently lost some money while gambling in the United States. If gambling were the cause of terrorism, America would be in pretty bad shape; before the pandemic, an average of 42 million Americans visited Las Vegas each year. Yet for some reason, people who lose in the Nevada casinos don’t respond by carrying out drive-by shooting attacks on Jewish teenagers. I wonder why.

I have referred here several times to the fact that journalists never seem to ask J Street or Peace Now spokesmen about these issues. It’s as if certain media outlets form a kind of protective cordon around Jewish critics of Israel in order to ensure that they are not asked difficult or embarrassing questions.

In a fair world, the latest developments would have become an utter public-relations disaster for the Jewish left-wing hecklers of Israel. But in the real world, they will probably be able to quietly ride this one out until the current news cycle is over and everyone else starts paying attention to something else.

 Stephen M. Flatow is a vice president of the Religious Zionists of America, an attorney in New Jersey and the father of Alisa Flatow, who was murdered in an Iranian-sponsored Palestinian terrorist attack in 1995. He is the author of “A Father’s Story: My Fight for Justice Against Iranian Terror.”

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