The False Moral Equivalence Between Israel and Palestinian Terrorism
Throughout the escalating conflict between Israel and the Palestinians, there’s been a lot of talk about moral equivalence. Both the media at home and abroad have attempted to draw a parallel between the violence perpetrated by Palestinians and Israeli violence.
This is the Big Lie of our time. In fact, Israel and the Palestinian leadership are polar moral opposites.
The Big Lie consists of several smaller lies. Sheikh Jarrah evictions, Al-Aqsa policing, and Netanyahu’s politics have all been thrown about as reasons for the unrest. But ultimately, this current round of violence is the product of a culture clash — between one that sanctifies peace and life and one that sanctifies war and death.
First, let’s consider the lies. Sheikh Jarrah is a small, predominantly Palestinian neighborhood in eastern Jerusalem. A portion of the neighborhood was bought by two Jewish trusts in 1875. These properties were sold to the Nahalat Shimon organization in 2003. This is a property rights case, and a pretty simple one at that; several current tenants are descendants of previous tenants, who, in 1982, acknowledged to a Magistrate Court that the two Jewish trusts were the rightful owners. This is not a case of ethnic cleansing. This is not a case of right-wing extremism. This is a court ordered eviction dispute.
Another ridiculous claim circulated by the Israeli left and the mainstream global media is that Israeli police provoked Palestinian violence by restricting access to the Al-Aqsa mosque and attacking worshipers. Firstly, the violence that started on the Temple Mount on May 7th was planned. Videos and images from Al-Aqsa that evening clearly show worshipers engaging with police. Why are worshipers in a mosque throwing rocks and bottles at police? Images and videos from Al-Aqsa in the past have also clearly shown how “worshipers” stockpile rocks in the mosque ahead of time.
Now, regarding religious freedom — Israel does in fact restrict religious freedom on the Temple Mount. However, these restrictions apply only to Jews. Jews are allowed access only in small numbers and at very limited times. Jewish prayer is totally forbidden. As it happens, before the current round of violence, Israel expanded the restrictions. On May 4th, the Temple Mount was closed to Jews indefinitely. Jewish access on Jerusalem Day was also cancelled.
Finally, when all else fails, blame Bibi — i.e., “Benjamin Netanyahu manipulated Israeli-Palestinian tensions, igniting violence in order to block his political rivals from forming a government.” But the chances of a government forming without him were slim to none. He doesn’t need to wage war to stifle his political rivals. Furthermore, Netanyahu is infamous for his status-quo policies. He even urged a far right-wing politician to leave Sheikh Jarrah to calm tensions.
There is a much simpler explanation for the current round of violence. A large portion of Palestinians and their leadership worship violence, jihad, and death.
The widespread belief is that the vast majority of Palestinians just want to live in peace. But a very large portion of Palestinians support terrorism. In 2016, when asked the question, “To what extent do you support or oppose the continuation of knife attacks against Israelis?”, West Bank Palestinians were about 50/50, while almost 80% of Gazans expressed support. This should not astound anybody. After all, Palestinians name streets and squares after terrorists, and educate their children to hate Jews.
Of course, the Palestinian leadership is also to blame for the violence. The Palestinian Authority (PA) was scheduled to hold its first election in 15 years in May, before its president, Mahmoud Abbas, postponed them indefinitely. Abbas, of course, blamed the Jews, but the real reason is that Abbas fears losing power, so he opted for distraction.
For about a week in early April, official PA TV broadcast songs inciting terrorism and violence. One song included the line, “My brother, throw my blood on the enemy like bullets.” Again, no surprise. Abbas wholeheartedly supports terrorism and upholding a policy that rewards and encourages Palestinians to murder Jews, through pay-for-slay. He is deeply antisemitic, and has denied the Holocaust.
If you support freedom, peace, and prosperity, there is, unequivocally, one moral side to this conflict — and that side is Israel.
Eytan Weinstein is Head of Product Design at an Israeli startup, and co-host of the Two Nice Jewish Boys podcast.