I returned from a two week trip to Israel less than one week ago. Shortly before my arrival in the Holy Land, 3 Jewish teens had been kidnapped by Hamas, a terrorist organization that has also been elected as the Palestinian ruling party by residents of the Gaza strip. Throughout the duration of my trip, Israeli Defense Force (IDF) soldiers and civilian search parties searched vigorously throughout the West Bank.
What did I see from the Jewish people as the nation held its collective breath, hoping for the safe return of these teens? I’ll tell you what I saw. Solidarity.
Newspapers called for the return of the boys. Citizens talked constantly about it. Debates on appropriate government response took place wherever we went. Thousands packed to the Western Wall to pray for the boys’ safety. IDF soldiers investigated throughout the West Bank, non-violently arresting known members of Hamas in an effort to locate the missing teens.
I’ll tell you what I didn’t see. I didn’t see violence. I didn’t see aggression. I didn’t see prejudice. I saw Jewish and Arab families floating lazily together down the Jordan River on a weekday evening. I saw marketplaces in the ever-tense center of Jerusalem filled to overflowing with Arabs, Jews, Armenians, Westerners and the like. I saw a first world country.
… until I arrived on Temple Mount. It was here, at the Jews’ most sacred site, I witnessed something that continues to disturb me even now.
An organized protest was beginning which would build throughout the day. Muslim women and children gathered together on the Temple Mount to protest Israel’s presence in the land and response to the kidnappings. Protesters held up 3 fingered salute, claiming the Jews had fabricated the kidnappings as an excuse to arrest Hamas members in the West Bank.
This wasn’t a Jewish protest against an Islamic terrorist group that had just kidnapped 3 teenagers. This was a Muslim protest against the Jews, on the Jews’ most holy site, at a time when the nation was desperately seeking the safe return of 3 teenagers. This wasn’t Jewish Israelis crying for blood. This was Muslims sending their own children to a location notorious for violent Arab riots.
Notice I didn’t say Palestinians. These protesters were Israeli citizens, enjoying the full rights of democratic Israeli law. The very ground they were protesting on is a testament to Israeli impartiality. After taking back Jerusalem from Jordanian soldiers in 1967, Jewish leaders decided to leave the Muslim shrine and mosque on the Temple Mount, in addition to full control of the entire area.
Keep in mind that this is considered the most holy of geographic locations by every Jew on the planet… and they simply allowed Muslims to remain in charge.
In the second video I took, more and more children were escorted in to join the protest. These children were kindergarten and first-grade ages, and most were chanting similar phrases to the children in the first video. As the voice in the video is explaining, protests in Israel often end violently, and the speaker, an avid activist, would NEVER take his children to a protest in Israel.
My heart gets sick at the sight of these children, brainwashed with hate against their neighbors. No child deserves to grow up this way. While it doesn’t show up in the video, the children were constantly harassing the stoic IDF soldiers throughout the time we were there.
These children are the same ones being dragged to the front lines by Hamas soldiers during terrorist operations, in the hopes that IDF counter-strikes will produce child casualties and more front page money shots anti-Israeli headlines. These are the same children being handed a rock and told to throw it at an the incoming tank while enthusiastic photographers snap away tomorrow’s New York Times cover shot.
This isn’t Israel versus Palestine. This is simply the exultation of hate and death, and the primary losers are the children, chanting away their futures before our very eyes.
Dead Bodies Found In Alon Shvut
The day after I left Israel, the dead bodies of the 3 Israeli teens, Naftali Fraenkel, 16, Eyal Yifrach, 19, and Gil-ad Shaar, 16, were found in Alon Shvut, just miles from where the kidnappings had taken place. As the nation mourned, protests and rallies were held in Jerusalem by some of the more extreme Jewish youth. For most of the country, silence, solidarity, and contemplation were the result of this tragic news. With the exception of a single riot during a Jerusalem protest by far right activists, widespread attacks on Arabs were non-existent.
Unfortunately, this wasn’t to be the end of the story. The following evening, after news of the teens’ deaths went out, a 16 year-old Arab teen was kidnapped in Jerusalem. According to witnesses, Muhammad Abu Khdeir was abducted and taken away in a vehicle by 3 Jewish Israelis. His body was found in a forest outside the city.
The Ultimate Double Standard
The death of Muhammad Abu Khdeir is every bit as tragic as those of the Jewish boys. Parents on both sides of the green line are mortified that this violence will continue to escalate. The families of the Jewish victims issued a statement condemning the young Arab’s killing and calling for a halt to the violence.
At such a time as this, my heart simply wants to grieve for the broken, but there is a also a double standard that needs to be addressed. Mere hours after news of the Khdeir’s death, Secretary of State John Kerry issued a statement, condemning the killing and calling for the perpetrators to be brought to justice.
Where was Kerry’s statement condemning the murder of the 3 Israeli boys?
There wasn’t one. There isn’t one.
And what was the response from Arabs and Palestinians after the boy’s body was found?
After responding with airstrikes against terrorist targets in Gaza, Hamas spokesman Abu Ubaida issued a statement to the Israeli people.
“We promise that one stupid move your leaders make will constitute sufficient ground to turn all of your towns, even those you wouldn’t expect, into targets and burning cinders.”
But he didn’t stop there. He revealed the true intent of Muslim leadership in the Palestinian community.
“The threats the occupiers issue, and the allusions to war against Gaza, are threats that have no meaning in our dictionaries, other than drawing the hour of vengeance and difficult lesson-learning closer.”
This is not an equivalent response. This is not a desire for peace and co-habitation. This is a desire for death and destruction from a religion that glorifies death and honors brutality. A politically correct view of this conflict is an ignorant one.
That Moment When Nobody Wins
As Marc Goldberg of the Times of Israel writes,
“Something that has always amazed and saddened me about the Arab Israeli conflict is the ease with which just a couple of terrorists can affect the lives of millions. … Everything that’s happening now is happening because of two terrorists and anyone else who helped them. Certainly no more than two dozen people and even that is a stretch. Now millions of Israelis and Palestinians are entangled in the web those two terrorists wove. Violence begot violence and now it’s an eye for an eye until all of us are blind.
… We’ve been doing this for so long that we don’t even notice that we’re doing it. Every crime committed is offered up as proof that the entirety of the population of the ‘other’ is at fault.”
What strikes me in Marc’s comments is the reality of how easily we can be persuaded to wrath against an entire people group. Perhaps you saw a picture of an injured Palestinian and felt anger toward Israelis. Perhaps you’ve found yourself enraged against Arabs or Palestinians while reading this post.
Most people want the same thing. Israelis and Palestinians alike want to wake up in the morning without fear of violence. They want to raise their children in peace and enjoy life with their loved ones. Few people love violence. Few people truly love death.
Unfortunately for Palestinians in the Gaza strip and West Bank, their leaders number among those few. A short visit to Israel – through the halls of the Knesset – among the markets of Jerusalem – will demonstrate that Israel does not want a marginalized Palestinian community. Israel doesn’t want concrete walls, border patrols, and road blocks.
But no other first-world nation has been forced to endure as Israel has. After the Second Intifada, the 2000-2005 influx of 147 Palestinian suicide bombings in which 525 Israeli civilians and as many soldiers were killed, the state of Israel was faced with a difficult decision: allow Palestinians to continue with unfettered border access and risk more civilian casualties OR wall up the border and leave responsibility for the well-being of Palestinians in the hands of the notoriously corrupt Palestinian Authority (PA).
As any nation would, Israel chose to protect its civilians. Thanks to the corruption of the PA, billions of dollars in foreign aid has managed to do absolutely nothing to improve living conditions in the West Bank. Instead, a thorough media campaign is churning out passionate young Arabs who believe a false history and hate the Jews.
While our team was in Bethlehem, we spoke with multiple locals who adamantly believed the Arab invasion of Israel never occurred:
and told us that Bethlehem, a sprawling city bordered on only 1 of 4 sides with Israel’s defensive wall,
is equivalent to the Warsaw ghetto, where over 300,000 thousand Jews died from starvation, abuse, and extermination at the hands of Nazis during World War II.
Even in the West, “journalism” on the conflict typically looks like this report, where a new remote controlled machine gun on the Bethlehem wall was reported to be part of new Israeli “kill zones,” allowing IDF soldiers to cut down Palestinians with ease…
Except, the “kill-zone machine gune” was a actually a water cannon, installed as a more humane riot-prevention tool in a particularly volatile area.
Or take a look at this picture, published by the The New York Times, The Associated Press, and The Wall Street Journal with caption: “An Israeli policeman and Palestinian on the Temple Mount.”
Except, the bloodied man is actually Tuvia Grossman, an American Jew who was violently beaten by Arab rioters in a Jerusalem neighborhood before the pictured Israeli policeman saved his life.
This isn’t Johnny’s blog posting some questionable material. This is a network of major news outlets publishing clearly false information, front page, with zero investigation into the story’s validity. For goodness sake, that’s a gas station sign in the background of the photo. Anyone who has even smelled Jerusalem knows there are definitely no gas stations on the Temple Mount. Photos, stories, “human rights reports,” and the like are simply funneled to mainstream journalists, sipping espresso in Tel Aviv while waiting to be handed their next big headline, courtesy of a generation’s suffering.
There is a concentrated and intentional push to see Israel framed as Goliath in this conflict, despite that fact that they remain an isolated, New Jersey-sized nation in the middle of the Arab world.
Do not be deceived by the rhetoric.
3 Reasons Anti-Israeli Sentiment Is Hurting Palestinians
Ultimately, Israel is Palestine’s best hope for restoration. In many ways, Israel is probably more vested in the restoration of Palestinians than anyone else on Earth. It is for this very reason that anti-Israeli sentiment, removing international pressure from corrupt, violent Arab leadership in Gaza and the West Bank Israel, is ultimately hurting Palestinians.
1. Israel is the only free, stable nation in the Middle East.
If you’ve even remotely followed current events of late, I don’t need to explain this statement. Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, and Egypt are in shambles, with more reports of instability and violence every day. Even under a stable government, Sharia law in the Middle East is a hotbed for brutal human rights violations. There is no freedom outside of Israel in the Middle East.
To paint a picture for you, an African American student at Hebrew National University told our team that after a few years in Jerusalem, he finally understood what white privilege was like. He had never lived in such thoroughly un-racist country in his life. For those of you who have heard the “apartheid” claims leveled against Israel, I can tell you definitively from intensive investigation and first hand witness that this claim is not only bogus, but is an unforgivable insult to the black and colored peoples of South Africa who actually did experience such prolific injustice.
The simple fact is that Israel has far more to offer Palestinians than their corrupt leaders or volatile neighbors.
2. Israel is the only nation in history to give up land for the purpose of peace after winning a war.
After the Six Day Way in 1967, Israel was in control. They had soundly defeated Egypt, Jordan, and Syria and found themselves in a position of power for the first time. What did they do? They withdrew their troops from a significant portion of taken land in an effort to facilitate peace… a move unprecedented in history.
Israel is invested in resolving this conflict, but it takes two to tango.
3. Israel has supported a Palestinian state from the beginning.
It’s in the history books my friends. The UN drafted Resolution 181 in 1947, dividing the former British territory into two states: one Palestine and the other Israel. The Israelis were thrilled with this resolution. The Arabs gathered five armies and tried to eliminate them.
Since that time, Israel has continued to concede to the Palestinians time and time again. They have given far more to this people group than both Hamas and the PA. Israel already has hundreds of thousands of Arab citizens. They are all for integration… the moment they are no longer integrating with a suicide bomber.
Pray For The Peace of Jerusalem
It’s in your Bibles.
Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: “May they prosper who love you. May peace be within your walls, and prosperity within your palaces.” For the sake of my brothers and my friends, I will now say, “May peace be within you.”
God promised Abraham that his descendants would be a blessing to the nations. Despite comprising less than 0.2% of the world’s population, the Jewish people have accounted for over 20% of all awarded Nobel prizes.
As a Christian, my priorities must be His priorities, and I can’t glance in the Word for more than a few moments without understanding that His heart beats for Jerusalem. It beats for the Jews. It beats for Israel.
Pray for the peace of Jerusalem. Pray for the Palestinians. Pray for Israel.
… Until He fulfills His promise to David in 2 Samuel 7:10-11, saying,
“I will also appoint a place for My people Israel and will plant them, that they may live in their own place and not be disturbed again, nor will the wicked afflict them any more as formerly, even from the day that I commanded judges to be over My people Israel; and I will give you rest from all your enemies.”
Correction: July 5, 2014
An earlier version of this article stated that there were no riots by Jews after the 3 teens’ bodies were found. Our source on the ground informed us of a single riot in Jerusalem during a right wing Jewish protest. Undercover Israeli police managed to keep the riot relatively contained, but 5 Arabs were injured before it was over. We have adjusted the article accordingly.