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October 9, 2015

Terror in Israel, A Reality We Know Too Well

By: Carole Nuriel, ADL’s Jerusalem Office

Over the past two weeks, a wave of terror has once again hit Israel. For those of us who grew up in Israel during the 1980s, this is an unfortunate reality we know all too well. Israelis suffered through two intifadas, waves of terror attacks including suicide bombs, shootings, run-over attacks, stone throwing and Molotov cocktails. Yet there is a feeling now that this particular wave of terror is different. There are a few reasons for this:

•       The terrorists’ profile: They come both from Palestinian areas in the West Bank and from Israeli Arab communities

•       Most of them are relatively young, some even teenagers

Obviously, another change is the use of social media:  some of the terrorists have declared their intention to carry out attacks on social media. This tool, which has become the new “city square”, provides a platform for recruitment, incitement, how-tos, as well as for organizing crowds to demonstrate and riot against Israeli security forces.

Israel violence

In many ways, this wave of violence represents an on-the-ground version of the recent Hamas rocket attacks from Gaza, which indiscriminately targeted Israeli civilians throughout the country. This wave may have started in East Jerusalem and the West Bank, but quickly caught fire to the rest of the country, and is now targeting cities like Kiryat Gat, Petach Tikva, Tel Aviv and Afula. Much like Hamas’ rockets, much of the fear Israelis are now feeling is because of the sense that no place in the country is immune from terror attacks.

Anxiety is felt everywhere, as is the nature of terrorism. I live in Modi’in and have taken Road 443 to Jerusalem daily for the past eight years. However, during the last few months I haven’t felt safe driving on 443, especially with my kids, as there have been numerous stone and Molotov cocktail throwing incidents on this road. I now feel safer taking Highway 1, even though it means a longer drive to Jerusalem. Indeed, many Modi’in residents don’t drive on 443 anymore. Something has definitely changed. Just today, I received a notice that security checkpoints will be erected at all entrances to the city, and security in all educational institutions will be increased.

Polls have shown that there is a general public consensus among Palestinians against terrorism. But last week we witnessed another kind of evil, one which greatly worries me. During Saturday night’s terrible stabbing in the Old City of Jerusalem, Adele Bennett, whose husband was killed and she herself stabbed, was reportedly spat on and laughed at by Arab bystanders as she ran to get help with a knife still in her back. What can be more insulting, upsetting and inhumane than this indecent act?

But this is not only about terror, it’s also about incitement to violence. Many of those rioting claim Israel is attempting to change the status quo on Temple Mount. This holy place to both Judaism and Islam has been the focus of clashes and provocations for years. It is hard to ignore the dangerous actions and discourse of the Islamic Movement in Israel, who have supported the Murabitun/Murabitat group, whose sole purpose is to provoke and insult Jews visiting the Temple Mount. Incitement has also come from senior Palestinian Authority officials, including President Mahmoud Abbas who infamously declared in a television interview a few weeks ago that Jews are defiling the Temple Mount with their feet.

Today more than ever, religious and political leaders must understand how easily their inciting words can lead to violence and terrorism.

There are ongoing efforts among Israeli and Palestinian leaders to deescalate tensions. Israelis hope and pray that this will be successful, and that the personal security will be restored.

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June 6, 2014

MLA Votes “Not Interested” on Anti-Israel Resolution

After months of tumult and advocacy among concerned members, the Modern Language Association (MLA) announced that a resolution critical of Israel had failed in its all-members vote.   While the failure to ratify the resolution is a success for its opponents – led by the ad hoc group MLA Members for Scholar Rights – the real news of the vote is the overwhelming lack of interest by the MLA membership to even engage on this issue.

Fewer than the required threshold of 10% of the almost 24,000 MLA membership voted in favor of the resolution, with 1,560 members voting  in support, and 1,063 members voting against.

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The deeply flawed resolution criticized Israel for denying U.S. academics of Palestinian origin entry into the West Bank for scholarly work.  As with other similar efforts, it was promoted by a small group of highly politicized activists, who, in the words of one attendee at the MLA’s annual conference in February (which included a panel discussion in favor of the boycott of Israeli academic institutions), were “intent on politicizing the event and taking advantage of the membership’s general lack of awareness to foist a wholly non-academic issue to the forefront of the conference.”

The refusal of the vast majority of the MLA membership to get engaged on the contrived issue of Israel obstructing academic access into the West Bank reflects the general unwillingness of members of other academic and professional associations who have been asked to pick a side on resolutions critical of Israel or calling for boycotts of Israeli colleagues and institutions.    Even the American Studies Association (ASA), an organization known for its political activism, could only muster about 1/5 of its membership to vote on a (successful) resolution supporting a boycott of Israel academic institutions in December 2013.

For anti-Israel activists, every one-sided resolution, every biased panel discussion at an esteemed associations’ conference, is  seen as an opportunity to tar perceptions about Israel, even among the many who refrain from getting engaged.  The ongoing challenge for supporters of Israel is to effectively counteract the extreme vilification of Israel promoted by vocal individuals within these professional and academic associations, while positively shaping opinions among the uninformed and largely uninterested majority.

 

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