Selective Hearing, Here and There

The Palestinians are selective listeners.

They hear, loud and clear, the Quartet’s condemnation of Israel for building over the ‘Green Line’, thereby eroding the “viability of the two-state solution,” but they don’t hear its criticism of the Palestinian Authority for inciting against Jews in Israel and glorifying terrorism.

The criticism of both sides was included in a draft report by representatives of the United States, United Nations, European Union and Russia that was issued last Friday, the day after 13-year-old Hallel Ariel, Hy”d, was stabbed to death by a terrorist as she slept in her bedroom at home in Kiryat Arba. It was the very same day that Rabbi Michael Mark, Hy”d, was murdered in a drive-by killing, and his wife Chava Rachel bas Ayelet Hashachar, may she have a refuah sheleimah, was seriously wounded (two of their 10 children were also hurt).

Instead of condemning the attacks, PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas, as of Motzoei Shabbos, was keeping quiet. According to Channel 2, he refused to take calls from Israeli and world leaders pleading with him to speak out against the killings, and ordered his media to keep the terror cases out of the headlines.

While the Quartet report is a step in the right direction — it places responsibility for controlling incitement on the Palestinian Authority — it falls short in two critical areas. One, it equates Israel’s building of homes for Jews beyond the ‘Green Line’ with Palestinian incitement to murder and, two, it lets the inciter-in-chief, Abbas himself, off the hook.

In the Middle East, sticks and stones may break bones, but words kill. They leave a mother in Kiryat Arba bereft of her 13-year-old daughter, H”yd. They leave 10 children orphaned of their father, H”yd, an educator who headed a yeshivah, and who personified humility and kindness. “Every Shabbat I’d come to you for guidance,” cried Netanel at the funeral. “Who will I turn to now?”

The Quartet’s draft report correctly points out the connection between incitement and violence. “Many widely circulated images depict individuals committing terrorist acts with slogans encouraging violence,” it states, adding that incitement on social media, affecting especially young people, increased since October 2015 — which happens to coincide with last Sukkos, when the “lone-wolf” attacks began, including many by teenagers.

The Quartet cites Hamas and “other radical factions” as being behind the worst examples of incitement. “These groups use media outlets to glorify terrorism and openly call for violence against Jews, including instructing viewers on how to carry out stabbings.”

It even blames some “members of Fatah,” Abbas’ party, for having “publicly supported attacks and their perpetrators, as well as encouraged violent confrontation.” But it leaves out Abbas himself, who just a short while ago delivered a speech in Brussels in which he libelously claimed that rabbis in Israel publicly called on the government to “poison the water to kill the Palestinians.” Incredibly, not only did his audience, members of the European Parliament, not walk out in outrage, they gave him a standing ovation! (Abbas later apologized.)

The Quartet’s draft report is meaningless unless it is followed by action. Abbas has to know that the world is on to him, that it will not countenance his double game of condemning the “armed conflict,” but at the same time naming public squares after terrorists and using scarce PA funds to pay huge stipends to terrorists sitting in jails.

Unfortunately, Israel also suffers from selective hearing. It hears only the Quartet’s criticism of its building in the “settlements,” not, at least until now, the urgent need to combat incitement (that hopefully will change with Cabinet decisions taken this week, in the wake of the recent terror attacks).

As a result, when it comes to building, a national interest, it hesitates: it takes one step forward — approving on Sunday the building of 800 housing units in Yerushalayim — and two steps back, approving 600 units for Arabs in Yerushalayim.

As Minister for Yerushalayim Ze’ev Elkin, a Likud MK, said, it’s one thing to provide assistance to Israeli Arabs, but doing so in Yerushalayim is something else entirely. “If we want to ensure a Jewish majority in Israel’s capital, this is not the way to do it. The homes are actually going to be built on land that was set to be part of the Givat Hamatos neighborhood, with construction for Jewish residents. If we are building homes for Arabs in Givat Hamatos, we must build homes for Jews there as well.”

And while Jewish homes in Amona are threatened with destruction by the Israeli government by the end of 2016, more than 150,000 Arab homes illegally built in Yehudah and Shomron are secure.

It’s time for the Palestinians to hear not just the criticism of Israel, but that of their active role in inciting to kill and glorifying terrorism. And it’s time for Israel to hear not just the criticism of itself, but that of the Palestinians, and to use all the tools at its disposal, including settlement building, to put a stop to the incitement and the unbearable loss of innocent lives.