The Difference between Jewish and Palestinian perspectives

by Michael Freund

A whopping 67 percent of Palestinians support stabbing attacks against Israelis.

Every once in a while, a news item comes along that captures the essence of an issue, encapsulating a point so crucial and fundamental that it manages to convey just about all one needs to know about a given subject. Such was the case with a press release issued last month by the Ramallah-based Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research regarding the findings of a poll conducted among Palestinians in Judea, Samaria and Gaza.

The document, which should be required reading by anyone who professes to offer an informed opinion about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, underlines the profound moral chasm that exists between the two sides. Indeed, it serves as a potent reminder that the clash in which Israel finds itself is nothing less than a showdown between good and evil.

The survey, which was carried out by Dr. Khalil Shikaki among a random sampling of some 1,270 Palestinians adults, firmly puts to rest the assertion that only a small fraction of our foes support violence and terrorism against innocent civilians.

The numbers speak for themselves: A whopping 67 percent of Palestinians – two out of every three! – support stabbing attacks against Israelis.

Think about that for a moment. It means that the overwhelming majority of Palestinians see absolutely nothing wrong with the act of picking up a knife and plunging it into another human being simply because he or she is an Israeli Jew.

This is not a matter of moral cowardice; it is a collective descent into depravity.

Of course, every society has its fringes, those who embrace immoral or destructive behavior. But when such immorality becomes the norm, when tormenting the innocent is considered a socially acceptable path, then how can one possibly even consider making peace with such people? The study also revealed that 60% of Palestinians support a return to an armed intifada and that 66% believe that such a violent uprising would “serve Palestinian national interests.”

This data indicates the extent to which carnage and bloodshed are viewed as being legitimate tools of political expression by Palestinian society.

There are those, especially on the Israeli Left, who will seek to explain away such statistics, asserting that they merely reflect mounting frustration on the part of Palestinians with the failure of the peace process.

But that is nothing more than a flimsy excuse garnished with flawed reasoning. After all, since when does personal or political frustration justify a resort to random violence? Amid the backdrop of the indictments that were issued against the alleged Israeli perpetrators of the Duma attack, in which a Palestinian family was murdered when a fire bomb was tossed into their home, the question takes on added resonance.

For however frustrated the Duma suspects might have been with Israeli policy, no Israeli leader and certainly no majority of the public would rationalize their actions or attempt to exonerate them on the basis that they were “driven by a sense of exasperation.”

So why should pretexts be invented when it comes to “explaining” or “understanding” Palestinians who embrace terrorism? The fact of the matter is that in Israel, there are a variety of organizations spanning the spectrum, with some calling for annexation of Judea, Samaria and Gaza and others demanding that the territories be handed over to the Arabs.

But you won’t find a similar diversity among Palestinians.

Last time I checked, organizations such as “Gaza Friends of Israel” or “Palestinians for Peace and Settlements” had yet to be established.

While Israel has a vocal, sizable and active Left, there is no corresponding Palestinian movement pressing for reconciliation. And if Palestinian society were truly longing for peace, as some claim, then its political arena would presumably look very different than it does today.

When was the last time you heard about Palestinian relief groups offering to help Israeli victims of terrorism? When have Palestinian human rights organizations pressed Palestinian officials to make concessions to Israel? How many Palestinian clerics have issued rulings forbidding suicide bombing attacks? We all know the answer to these questions.

The popular support for violence among Palestinians, and the absence of a similar trend in Israel, is not a coincidence. It is a telling testimony which speaks volumes about the two societies, their values, goals and objectives.

The Jewish state may have a few rotten apples here and there, but in the case of the Palestinians, surveys indicate that much of the orchard has gone bad, and therein lies the overwhelming moral disparity between the two.

This op-ed originally appeared in the Jerusalem Post.

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