Naftali, Eyal, Gilad & the Palestinian Culture of Hate » ADL Blogs
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July 3, 2014 0

Naftali, Eyal, Gilad & the Palestinian Culture of Hate

foxman1by Abra­ham H. Fox­man
National Direc­tor of the Anti-Defamation League

This arti­cle orig­i­nally appeared in The Huff­in­g­ton Post and Jerusalem Post.

The bar­baric kid­nap­ping and mur­der of Naf­tali Fraenkel, Eyal Yifrach and Gilad Shaar sent shock­waves of hor­ror across the world. For eigh­teen long days, decent peo­ple around the globe joined with Israelis and Jews anx­iously await­ing infor­ma­tion about the teens’ fate, hop­ing and pray­ing for their safe and quick return. When it was revealed ear­lier this week that the three young men would not be com­ing home, there was an out­pour­ing of grief and con­do­lences. Sym­pa­thies to the fam­i­lies were issued from the White House, the Vat­i­can, 10 Down­ing Street and other world cap­i­tals, while many held vig­ils and mil­lions took to social media to express their grief and sup­port dur­ing this dif­fi­cult time. The UN Secu­rity Coun­cil also issued an unusu­ally strong state­ment, intro­duced by the US, express­ing con­do­lences to the fam­i­lies and con­demn­ing the killings as a “heinous act.”

Yet, sadly and per­haps unsur­pris­ingly, there were also those who cel­e­brated the kid­nap­ping and glo­ri­fied the murderer’s actions. In the days fol­low­ing the kid­nap­ping, social media was also abuzz with the “Three Fin­gers” cam­paign, with images depict­ing adults and chil­dren glee­fully per­form­ing a three-finger salute in sol­i­dar­ity with the kid­nap­pers’ actions. A related, ugly social media cam­paign, “Three Shal­its,” a ref­er­ence to the for­mer Israeli solider Gilad Shalit who was kid­napped by Hamas and exchanged for the release of over 1000 Pales­tin­ian ter­ror­ists, encour­aged the pub­lic to share three-finger pho­tos in sup­port of a sim­i­lar exchange of Pales­tini­ans for the kid­napped teens.

In a prac­tice all too famil­iar among Pales­tini­ans, some Gazans took to the streets to cel­e­brate the kid­nap­ping, express­ing sup­port for the kid­nap­pers while hand­ing out sweets to locals. Hamas offi­cials, while deny­ing Israel’s accu­sa­tions that they were behind the kid­nap­ping, praised the abduc­tion as a form of “resis­tance” against Israel, and, despite the recent unity deal with Fatah, denounced the Pales­tin­ian Author­ity for pro­vid­ing assis­tance in help­ing locate the teens.

And across the Pales­tin­ian ter­ri­to­ries, many asserted the kid­nap­ping had been a ruse man­u­fac­tured by the Mossad and IDF to jus­tify Israeli mil­i­tary actions in the West Bank and Gaza. Indeed, when Israel released the names of the two sus­pected kid­nap­pers, the mother of one praised her son’s actions say­ing “If he truly did it, I’ll be proud of him until my final day.” There were even reports that the Israeli ambu­lance car­ry­ing the dead teens’ bod­ies was stoned by Pales­tini­ans as it trans­ported their remains to a foren­sics cen­ter for identification.

The truth is the jubi­la­tion exhib­ited towards the kid­nap­ping is not a new phe­nom­e­non. While the major­ity of Pales­tini­ans did not cel­e­brate the teens’ abduc­tion or sup­port the kid­nap­pers, includ­ing Pales­tin­ian Pres­i­dent Abbas who issued a pub­lic state­ment con­demn­ing the kid­nap­ping, it is hard to ignore that a cul­ture of hatred has long existed among ele­ments within Pales­tin­ian society.

It is one that espouses pure hatred of Israelis, and often Jews, regard­less of their actions, and is wholly unin­ter­ested in liv­ing at peace with its neigh­bors. This hatred is implanted at a young age, fer­mented in extremist-run Pales­tin­ian schools which preach intol­er­ance and rejec­tion of Israel, cul­ti­vated in Hamas’ “sum­mer camps” where young boys are trained in military-style com­bat, and brought to action through active sup­port for and glo­ri­fi­ca­tion of ter­ror­ism and martyrdom.

Some jus­tify this ani­mos­ity, say­ing it is a nat­ural result of the Israeli-Palestinian con­flict, and of Israel’s “occu­pa­tion” of the West Bank. Oth­ers point to extrem­ists within Israeli soci­ety, who pro­mote hatred and even vio­lence towards Mus­lims and Arabs.

Cer­tainly, the con­flict has a daily impact on the qual­ity of Pales­tin­ian life, both phys­i­cal and psy­cho­log­i­cal, and, to be sure, there are extrem­ists within Israeli soci­ety. Indeed, in the hours fol­low­ing the funer­als of the three Israeli teens, extrem­ist Jews staged protests and riots in Jerusalem and other parts of Israel, where of “Death to the Arabs” could be heard.

There were also reports of anti-Arab “Price Tag” attacks in dif­fer­ent parts of the coun­try, as well as numer­ous social media post­ings con­tain­ing hate-filled and venge­ful mes­sages about Arabs and Pales­tini­ans. And, as of this writ­ing, there is the ter­ri­ble news of an abduc­tion and killing of a 16 year-old Pales­tin­ian boy from East Jerusalem, pos­si­bly a “revenge” act car­ried out by extrem­ist Jews, which has been widely con­demned by senior Israeli gov­ern­ment offi­cials and civil soci­ety lead­ers.

Unlike in Israel, where there is wide­spread rejec­tion of anti-Arab incite­ment and vio­lent activ­i­ties by extrem­ist Jews, a small group of indi­vid­u­als con­stantly mon­i­tored and pur­sued by Israeli law enforce­ment, the dis­con­tent within Pales­tin­ian soci­ety is fanned and incited into hatred by a wide­spread, unfet­tered sup­port for vio­lence against Jews and Israel.

While this cul­ture of hate is lim­ited to small seg­ments of Pales­tin­ian soci­ety in the West Bank and much more gen­er­ally in Gaza, its exis­tence is rou­tinely ignored by Pales­tin­ian lead­ers and oth­ers in the inter­na­tional com­mu­nity who fail to appre­ci­ate its impact on the Israeli-Palestinian con­flict and, even excuse it.

As world lead­ers issue calls for Israel to restrain itself in respond­ing to this hor­rific tragedy, they must also rec­og­nize the nature of the enemy Israel is con­fronting, and actively pres­sure the Pales­tini­ans to coun­ter­act the glo­ri­fi­ca­tion of bru­tal vio­lence against inno­cent Israeli cit­i­zens. Israel has a right and oblig­a­tion to defend its cit­i­zens against ter­ror­ism and extrem­ism of all kinds, and should be held in that regard to the same stan­dard as every other civ­i­lized nation.

Those in the inter­na­tional com­mu­nity who are truly con­cerned about end­ing the Israeli-Palestinian con­flict can­not ignore or excuse the cul­ture of hatred among Pales­tini­ans. Those sup­port­ing the new Hamas-Fatah unity gov­ern­ment should hold its lead­ers, includ­ing Pales­tin­ian Pres­i­dent Abbas and other senior Pales­tin­ian Author­ity offi­cials, account­able for Pales­tin­ian enti­ties pro­mot­ing a cul­ture of hatred in schools and sum­mer camps, be they in Ramal­lah or Gaza.

Despite claims to the con­trary, the mur­ders of Naf­tali, Eyal and Gilad were not due to Israel’s pres­ence in the West Bank, the neg­li­gence of the Israeli police, or the actions of aver­age Pales­tini­ans. These three young men were killed by hate­ful peo­ple who had no regard for human­ity or the val­ues of life trea­sured by most. Until the world truly under­stands this evil and acts to com­bat it, cul­tures of hate like those respon­si­ble for tak­ing the lives of Naf­tali, Eyal and Gilad will sadly con­tinue to flourish.