As ‘Attacks Beget Attacks’ in West Bank, Army Must Break Cycle of Terror: Judah Ari Gross, Times of Israel, Dec. 14, 2018— The last quarter of 2018 has seen a significant rise in the level of violence in the West Bank, with growing concerns of another outbreak like that in late 2015 and early 2016, which saw regular stabbing, shooting and car-ramming attacks against Israeli civilians and soldiers.
A Distinct Lack of Jewish Outrage: Jonathan S. Tobin, JNS, Dec. 13, 2018 — American Jews have often been bashed for being too Israel-centric.
Strasbourg Attack Fits Previous Model of Criminal-Terror Nexus in Europe: Seth J. Frantzman, Jerusalem Post, Dec. 12, 2018— On Tuesday, Cherif Chekatt, 29, shot at a crowd next to a Christmas market in central Strasbourg killing two, while a third person was brain-dead and being kept alive on life support.
Confronting the Darkness of Hate Together: Alan Herman, CIJR, Dec. 13, 2018 — On Sunday, November 11, 2018, Remembrance Day, Doris Epstein and myself, Canadian Institute for Jewish Research’s Toronto Co-Chairs, drove out on a cold and windy Sunday night to Grace Life Centre in Scarborough.
On Topic Links
After Antisemitic Attacks, Are Jews Safer in the East Than the West?: Sean Savage, Algemeiner, Dec. 13, 2018
When Anti-Zionism Tunnels Under Your House: Bret Stephens, New York Times, Dec. 13, 2018
A Painful Reminder: Yoav Limor, Israel Hayom, Dec. 11, 2018
The Hamas Plan to Take the West Bank: Khaled Abu Toameh, Gatestone Institute, Dec. 13, 2018
AS ‘ATTACKS BEGET ATTACKS’ IN WEST BANK,
ARMY MUST BREAK CYCLE OF TERROR
Judah Ari Gross
Times of Israel, Dec. 14, 2018
The last quarter of 2018 has seen a significant rise in the level of violence in the West Bank, with growing concerns of another outbreak like that in late 2015 and early 2016, which saw regular stabbing, shooting and car-ramming attacks against Israeli civilians and soldiers.
This past week has been particularly deadly, and the military is engaged in a delicate balancing act — launching a large-scale effort to interrupt the cycle of violence in an attempt to stave off a wider conflict in the West Bank, but at the same time trying to limit the potential to inflame already heightened tensions in the restive region.
On Sunday, Palestinian terrorists opened fire at a group of Israelis standing outside the Ofra settlement, injuring seven people, including a 30-weeks pregnant woman whose baby was delivered prematurely and died three days later. An assailant stabbed two border guards in the Old City of Jerusalem on Thursday, lightly injuring them, before he was shot dead. Also on Thursday, a gunman shot dead two Israeli soldiers and seriously injured a third serviceman and a civilian woman at a bus stop outside the Givat Assaf outpost, near Ofra. And a Palestinian attacker stabbed a soldier and bashed his head with a rock, seriously injuring him, at a military outpost near the Beit El settlement on Friday.
On Thursday, Israeli troops also shot dead a 58-year-old Palestinian man who they said attempted to ram them with his car in the town of el-Bireh, outside Ramallah. The man’s family denies that he tried to deliberately hit the soldiers with his car, and the military is reportedly investigating the possibility that it was indeed an accident.
Adding to the past week’s heightened tensions, Israeli security forces shot dead a suspected terrorist, Ashraf Na’alowa, who is believed to have committed a shooting attack in the Barkan industrial zone in October, killing two of his Israeli co-workers; the army said he opened fire at the troops who came to arrest him in the city of Nablus in the predawn hours of Thursday morning. Soldiers also arrested some of the terrorists responsible for the Ofra shooting on Wednesday night — one was also killed — while others are still believed to be at large.
But the escalation of violence in the West Bank has been coming for several months. Following a rocky May, which saw an increase in attacks apparently tied to the transfer of the American Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, the summer was relatively calm, with between 64 and 88 acts of violence each month, mostly in the forms of Molotov cocktails thrown at Israeli cars and other low-level attacks, according to figures from the Shin Bet security service.
Beginning in September, this started to change, with more and more attacks recorded each month in the West Bank. November saw over 100, according to the Shin Bet, and December appears to be on track to have even more and deadlier attacks. The military is also in the midst of several other manhunts in the West Bank. Except for Thursday’s Old City stabbing, all the assailants managed to flee the scene of the attacks.
This tendency of one attack to lead to a second is generally attributed to three main sources. In some cases, it is the result of established terror groups, notably Hamas, taking advantage of a volatile situation and directing operatives to carry out attacks. There are also lone copycats with no ties to organized groups — often young men from bad family situations — but who are inspired by an act of terrorism and set out to commit their own. And there are acts of revenge, a brother or cousin of an assailant recently shot dead by Israeli troops who commit attacks as a form of retribution. The past week has seen the first two, according to Israeli defense officials.
The Hamas terror group, which has scaled down its violent activities in the Gaza Strip as it tries to reach a ceasefire agreement with Israel, has been stepping up its efforts in the West Bank. “Hamas is the most violent group in [the West Bank], and it is trying to carry out terror attacks all the time,” a senior officer in the IDF Central Command said Thursday. The Israeli military said it believes a Hamas cell conducted the terror attack in Ofra on Sunday and that the terror group may have also committed the shooting in nearby Givat Assaf on Thursday. Other attacks this week appeared to have been committed by lone assailants with no direct ties to terror groups.
Military officials and analysts explain the increased violence of the past week as “terror attacks beget terror attacks” — or in Hebrew, “pigua rodef pigua”: that one incident often prompts another and another, until the pattern can be broken. The Israel Defense Forces is now attempting to do just that, though it is no easy task, with the potential for violence to escalate if either too much or not enough action is taken.
In its effort to both hunt the terrorists who fled and break the cycle of violence, the IDF has sent additional infantry battalions to the West Bank and established a dedicated command unit to spearhead the searches. The military has set up checkpoints at the entrances and exits to Ramallah and other nearby towns and villages; carried out extensive arrest raids in the West Bank, arresting some 37 Hamas members, including senior leaders; and has stationed additional troops around the West Bank’s roadways and inside settlements to both prevent attacks and respond more effectively to those that do occur…[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]
A DISTINCT LACK OF JEWISH OUTRAGE
Jonathan S. Tobin
JNS, Dec. 13, 2018
American Jews have often been bashed for being too Israel-centric. But while there was a great deal to be said for arguments that the organized Jewish world needed to focus more on building up Jewish identity in America rather than live vicariously through Israel’s achievements and struggles, I’m beginning to think such criticism isn’t as valid as it once was.
In the last several weeks, Israelis have endured a massive rocket barrage from Gaza, the discovery of terror tunnels dug under their northern border by Hezbollah terrorists and a spate of deadly shooting attacks on Jewish civilians. Yet while hard-core pro-Israel activists follow these events closely, they haven’t generated much interest—let alone outrage—from the broader Jewish community, especially when compared to concerns about anti-Semitism in America.
Part of it has to do with a general numbness about such things that 70 years of conflict has engendered among those who observe Israel’s struggles from afar. Shootings, rockets and even the threat of an invasion by Hezbollah—Iran’s terrorist auxiliary in Lebanon—can be viewed as part of a narrative about a “cycle of violence” between Israel and its enemies that breeds a degree of complacence, if not apathy, even about such terrible events.
It’s also true that the policies of the government led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu are generally unpopular among American Jews, even if he still retains broad support among Israelis, who appear likely to re-elect him next year. That has created a dynamic whereby all Israeli security concerns—whether on the strategic level, like the conventional and nuclear threats from Iran, or everyday terrorism from Hamas in Gaza—can be discounted or even to some extent ignored. For some critics of Israel, the strategic threats are seen as exaggerated because they conflicted, as was the case with Iran, with the position of popular U.S. politicians like President Barack Obama. Others see routine Palestinian violence directed at Israeli civilians as understandable, if not justified, because of their opposition to Jewish settlements in the West Bank.
But it may also be more the result of a breakdown of a sense of Jewish peoplehood and identity due to assimilation than political disagreements. For those American Jews who are raised on universalist values, any sectarian or parochial concern can be seen as inherently racist. If that’s how you look at it, then you’re likely to view Israel’s troubles as either insignificant or illegitimate.
Of course, not all American Jews are apathetic. There are still many for whom support for Israel is the primary or even exclusive focus for their activism and even to some extent their identity. The same applies to some leading Jewish organizations that remain committed to bolstering the U.S.-Israel alliance and supporting the Jewish state in various ways.
Primarily, the idea that American Jews were obsessed about Israel to the exclusion of other concerns was always a myth. The energy and passion of pro-Israel activists often gave politicians the misleading impression that the conflict in the Middle East was the only thing Jews cared about it. But for most Jewish voters, the security of the Jewish state has always ranked rather low on their list of vital issues, if it made the list at all. Whatever they may think of Israel, after the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting in October, American Jews are concentrating more on anti-Semitism. Though removed as we are from the rising tide of Jew-hatred that has swept from the Middle East and across Europe, there is no escaping the realization that even in a country where Jews are completely accepted, as they are in the United States, anti-Semitism is still present.
It’s understandable that the most deadly attack on American Jews in the history of the nation would concentrate our minds on threats to Jewish life here, whether from extremists on the far-right or from the left. But even as we contemplate that dismal reality—and spar about which form of anti-Semitism is more of a threat—it is vital that we recognize that what happens in the Middle East is an inevitable byproduct of the same hate that generates Jew-hatred on these shores. There are those who argue that foes of Israel are solely motivated by anger about the creation of a Jewish state in a region dominated by Islam, as well as by the dispossession of those who fled the country in 1948 during the War of Independence. They claim that the Palestinians have a genuine grievance rooted in things Jews did to them, rather than anti-Semitic myths about Jewish conspiracies.
But even a cursory examination of the arguments against Zionism shows that they are part of the same mindset of delegitimization of Jewish rights. That is why the Palestinian Arabs have consistently rejected every offer to share the country from the 1930s to the offers of statehood turned down by the Palestinian Authority in the last two decades. The rhetoric of even the moderate P.A. is just as steeped in the language of demonization of Jews as that of right- or left-wing anti-Semites in Europe or North America.
No matter what you think about Netanyahu or settlements, it’s important to remember that the Jews shot in the West Bank weren’t targeted because of their politics, but because they were Jews. The same is true for the ongoing efforts of Hamas and Hezbollah to threaten the existence of the one Jewish state on the planet. That’s why stories about rockets, tunnels and especially murderous shootings of Israelis deserve to be treated as more than just routine violence. It should merit attention from Americans. Israeli Jews are just as deserving of the right to live their lives in peace and security as Americans. And their enemies are motivated by the same kind of intolerance for Jewish rights as those who target Jews here. If you can’t work up any outrage about that, then you’re not paying attention to the truth about anti-Semitism.
STRASBOURG ATTACK FITS PREVIOUS MODEL
OF CRIMINAL-TERROR NEXUS IN EUROPE
Seth J. Frantzman
Jerusalem Post, Dec. 12, 2018
On Tuesday, Cherif Chekatt, 29, shot at a crowd next to a Christmas market in central Strasbourg killing two, while a third person was brain-dead and being kept alive on life support. Six more victims are fighting for their lives. As of press time Wednesday, French security forces are still hunting the suspect, who is known to counter-terrorism services. He initially fled in a taxi from the city of 270,000 which is located near the German border.
According to reports, the perpetrator acted alone although four people were detained in connection to the attacks. He used a gun and knife. Security has been increased at Christmas markets. According to BBC, he was on a “fiche S” watch list for “potential threats to national security.” He shouted religious extremist slogans during the course of the attack. This conjures up memories of the murder of 12 people in the 2016 Christmas market attack in Berlin. The perpetrator in the Germany attack, who was born in Tunisia in 1992, had been in prison in Italy where he was allegedly “radicalized.” German security services had warned of his terrorist connections in the spring of 2016, and he was supposed to be deported.
According to France 24, the suspect in the Strasbourg shooting was also known to police. Born in Strasbourg, he was confronted by soldiers who have been deployed in French cities as part of Operation Sentinelle. These soldiers were deployed after the November 2015 attacks in Paris that killed 130. The Interior Minister Christophe Castaner has said the suspect “sowed terror” at three places in the city. The reference to “three places” leaves more questions about what happened. It appears that the reference is to the suspect coming into contact twice with security forces and exchanging fire with them.
As with many attacks in Europe over the last several years, the Strasbourg suspect was already known to security and police. He had served a sentence and been convicted of 27 unspecified crimes in France, Switzerland and Germany, according to reports. In 2016 he was “flagged by anti-terrorist services,” France 24 reported. “He had been reported by the General Directorate for Internal Security.”
The intelligence agency had visited him in prison and taken account of his “religious proselytism.” Yet, even with this long rap sheet and being monitored by security forces, he carried out an armed robbery on Tuesday before the attack. During a search of his apartment, grenades were found which raises the question how a man who was well known for violent proclivities and apparently religious extremism was able to acquire his arsenal.
The attack took place one km. from the European Parliament, which has taken the attack in stride. Antonio Tajani, the president of the parliament, tweeted the parliament would not be intimidated. “Let us move on,” he wrote. But residents and others may want more answers. One man told the BBC that he had attempted to aid a victim of the attack, waiting for 45 minutes for an ambulance to arrive. “A doctor told us on the phone that it was senseless,” to continue to aid the dead victim. This leads to questions about why medical services took so long to reach the scene.
The attack in Strasbourg is among the most serious incidents this year in Europe, after a spate of ISIS-inspired attacks between 2015 and 2017. However the background of the alleged perpetrator appears to fit a much larger pattern, particularly in France. Mohammed Merah, the perpetrator of the Toulouse and Montaubon attacks, was born in Toulouse. A petty criminal, he then went to Afghanistan and Pakistan and was placed under surveillance in 2006, and again in 2009. He went to Egypt and Pakistan, and was followed by security service upon his return in 2011. Yet despite all this he was able to acquire weapons and between March 11 and 19 went on a spree of killing, targeting soldiers and then a Jewish school…[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]
CONFRONTING THE DARKNESS OF HATE TOGETHER
CIJR, Dec. 13, 2018
On Sunday, November 11, 2018, Remembrance Day, Doris Epstein and myself, Canadian Institute for Jewish Research’s Toronto Co-Chairs, drove out on a cold and windy Sunday night to Grace Life Centre in Scarborough. A Candlelight Vigil in commemoration of the victims of murders at Tree of Life in Pittsburgh was being held. Doris and I, along with Ann Samson of Congregation BINA, and Howard Kamen of Beth Torah were there to represent the Jewish community. The initiative was being organized jointly by proud Toronto Jewish leaders Shai Abraham and Ariella Daniels, and by Jay and Molly Banerjei of the Christian Music Festival. This vigil was a spontaneous reaction to the horrors of Pittsburgh and, for most of us, this was our first encounter with these Christian leaders. To say the least, we had no idea what to expect.
What struck me almost immediately, in addition to the large crowd that had turned up, was the diversity of the people in that audience. The audience was a distinct blend of Koreans, Filipinos, Jamaicans, Indo-Canadians, Sri-Lankans, French and Afghans. A sombre mood filled the air of the sanctuary, but informing it an excitement could also be felt. At the front of the room were eleven huge white Magen Davids, each with the name of a murdered congregant from Tree of Life. A lighted memorial candle was placed in front of each. Large Canadian and Israeli flags were proudly displayed in the background. The theme of the night was clear: I Stand With You.
Right off the top, Jay Banerjei began the night by marking the centenary of the end of World War I with a salute to the Veterans and a singing of O Canada. Immediately it not only reminded us of the many privileges we enjoy here in Canada, but it also acknowledged the unity of the audience as proud Canadians. From there, the evening began. Pastor after pastor, rabbi and community leader came to the front to express, through speech and song, their support and solidarity with the Jewish people. Grace Life Centre Choir, under the leadership of Pastor Andrew Eastman, sang Psalms 23, 121, 137; Molly Banerjei sang “One People”, a song that epitomized the spirit of the occasion. Striking performances also included solo vocalists and musicians; Ms. Nelly Shin sang Psalms and the Filipino dance ensemble “danced their way to Jerusalem”, raising the Israeli flag.
El male rahamim was sung by Howard Kamen, Cantor at Beth Torah Congregation. Spontaneously, the entire audience stood in honour of the Jewish victims. CIJR Co-Chair Doris Epstein, in her remarks, stated that antisemitism is not just a Jewish problem but rather one that starts with Jews does not end with Jews. “Fighting all forms of antisemitism is a matter of basic human decency, human rights and, in Canada, of the rule of law. Ann Samson from Congregation BINA explained the importance of combatting antisemitism “because history has a painful way of repeating itself”.
Shai Abraham, related an anecdote by Rabbi Moshe Leib of Sassov which interprets the Hebrew Bible’s “love thy neighbour as thyself” as listening to and empathizing with one another, and acknowledging to all those who were present that evening that by their participation they were true neighbors, true friends. Molly Banerjei declared that this is not just a one-time event but a beginning of an ongoing, vocal and united movement to fight antisemitism and hate of all kinds. “This is just the first step,” she said. To conclude the evening, Howard Kamen led this audience of Jews and Christians in a passionate singing of HaTikvah, followed by a huge hora dance in the middle of the church.
Returning from this moving experience made me wonder, when was the last time I had heard such joy, enthusiasm, commitment and zeal for the Jewish people and Israel? I could remember Jerusalem auditoriums filled with thousands of youth, singing in Hebrew and waving flags during my long-ago Birthright Israel trip. I could remember the annual Israel Day rallies in Montreal that I looked forward to every year when I lived there. I also remember a sweltering summer’s day in 2006 during the Second Lebanon War when we rallied for Israel at Mel Lastman’s Square.
This vigil stands alongside these other proud memories. And it is just the start of a new alliance we, and the Canadian Institute for Jewish Research, shall continue to build. The fight against antisemitism, “the longest hatred”, is ongoing, and I look forward to having more to tell you in the months to come.
(Alan Herman and Doris Epstein are the
Canadian Institute for Jewish Research Toronto Co-Chairs)
CIJR Wishes All Our Friends & Supporters: Shabbat Shalom!
On Topic Links
After Antisemitic Attacks, Are Jews Safer in the East Than the West?: Sean Savage, Algemeiner, Dec. 13, 2018—The October attack on the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh put a renewed spotlight on antisemitism in the United States, which has seen an uptick in recent years. But deadly attacks on Jewish people and institutions are far from a new occurrence in Europe, where Jewish communities across the continent have faced threats from radical Islam and other homegrown extremist groups for years.
When Anti-Zionism Tunnels Under Your House: Bret Stephens, New York Times, Dec. 13, 2018 —In 2002, Hassan Nasrallah, the secretary-general of Hezbollah, was said to have given a speech noting that the creation of the state of Israel had spared his followers the trouble of hunting down Jews at “the ends of the world.”
A Painful Reminder: Yoav Limor, Israel Hayom, Dec. 11, 2018—Every few weeks, the Israeli public receives a painful reminder that the most violent, deadly and complex sector is not the Gaza Strip or Lebanon, but Judea and Samaria. It happened two months ago, when two Israelis were murdered in a terrorist attack in the Barkan industrial zone, and it happened again Monday night, in the shooting attack at the bus stop in Ofra.
The Hamas Plan to Take the West Bank: Khaled Abu Toameh, Gatestone Institute, Dec. 13, 2018—It is clear by now that Hamas is behind some of the recent terror attacks against Israelis in the West Bank. These attacks serve the interests of Hamas and its friends and sponsors, especially the Palestinian Islamic Jihad organization — and Iran.