Israel on Monday is enduring yet another day of incessant terror attacks. The death of an 18-year-old Israeli, stabbed in the stomach as he stood with friends at a gas station on Road 443 between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, has just been confirmed. A few hours ago, two teenage Palestinian girls pulled out scissors in an attempt to kill Israelis in Jerusalem’s main Mahane Yehuda fruit and vegetable market, and wound up injuring a 70-year-old Palestinian man from Bethlehem.
And those were only the two worst attacks so far today — on a day that also saw the funeral of yesterday’s terror fatality, Hadar Buchris, 21, a young Israeli woman who was murdered at the Gush Etzion junction south of Jerusalem just hours before yet another terror fatality from the self-same spot, American yeshiva student Ezra Schwartz, 18, was laid to rest in Boston.
The national mood is grim. The fear of attack is relentless.
Critics say the government, the army, should be doing a better job of preventing the attacks. There’s some basis to the complaint that the Gush Etzion junction should be more effectively protected; it’s been the site of numerous attacks, and the IDF is again now looking at ways to safeguard those who use it.
But the fact is that Jews and Arabs, Israelis and Palestinians live in intimate proximity in our part of the world. And when much of the Palestinians’ political leadership, spiritual leadership, educational system, mainstream media and social media relentlessly preach the hatred of Jews, the fundamental illegitimacy of the Jewish state, and the ostensible religious requirement to kill and be killed, the murderous consequences are difficult to defend against hermetically.
This latest terror surge is unlikely to pass quickly. A whole new generation has been filled with loathing for Jews, for Israel. Not all young Palestinians are going out stabbing; not all of them have been recruited to the killing fields. But the purported religious imperative is pushing more and more of them to act — several times a day, of late.
While foolish outsiders bend over backwards to supply legitimacy for the terrorism, bemoaning the suffering of Palestinians under Israeli control, it should not need stressing that this new systematic incitement of violence — just like the evil Second Intifada suicide bombing onslaught of more than a decade ago — is both utterly unjustifiable and entirely counterproductive. It can only render the prospect of Palestinian statehood more remote. As we mourn our daily dead, Israelis are well aware that the toll would be far higher were the suicide bomb factories of Jenin, Nablus and other West Bank cities still manufacturing explosive belts and indoctrinating their wearers. The new stabbing surge is an immense deterrent to any notion of again relinquishing security control of the West Bank, as Israel had done in the years before the Second Intifada erupted in 2000.
As we watch all those Palestinian kids’ TV shows urging Jew-killing, read the Fatah and Hamas calls to murder, see the mothers and fathers of the daily murderers hailing their “martyred” children, the last thing we’re saying is, Let’s entrust these people with full sovereignty, so that they can more easily fulfill their stated ambition of pushing us into the sea. As we guard against them, all our differences — the arguments over settlements, over how to maintain a Jewish-democratic Israel, over what more we can do to create an environment more likely to encourage moderation — are simply overwhelmed and rendered irrelevant.
For now, Israelis are having to adjust their daily lives, to minimize their vulnerability, to guard against the banal norm of relaxing when out and about. More security forces are being deployed. The intelligence hierarchies are working overtime.
None of which constitutes a means of defanging Islamist terrorism at its source. For that — precisely as with the mass terror onslaught in Paris 10 days ago, and the dire ongoing threat of further Islamist terror coming West — what’s needed is concerted action at the grassroots.
When people come at you with a gun or a knife or scissors or bombs or their car, you had better stop them first. Ideally, you’ll identify and thwart them before they set out. The fight needs to be physically taken to the enemy. But it also needs to be waged educationally — in the schools and the mosques and online. The advocates and apologists must be afforded no tolerance.
We’ll not beat the many-headed Islamist terror monster until that ostensible religious imperative is shattered — until radical Islam, that is, is exposed, marginalized and ultimately defeated as the murderous death cult it is.