Israel Has Had Quite a Week
Gilbert N. Kahn is a professor of Political Science at Kean University.
It has been an awful few days for Israel and world Jewry. The combination and compilation of events is grotesque: the tragic, senseless murder of an Israeli teenager while sleeping in her bed in Kiryat Arba; the stabbing of two middle-aged Israelis in Netanya; the murderous attack on a vehicle driven by Israelis near Har Hebron; deaths and injured of both Israelis and Palestinians in these terrorist incidents; the expected but gloomy prospect presented by the Quartet’s report concerning the possibilities for a two-State solution in the region; and the British Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn’s outrageous comparison of ISIS to the IDF and his subsequent recantation.
The link here in these events is clearly hatred of Jews and Israel in a series of ugly guises and manifestations. Heinous, gratuitous acts of violence against totally innocent people accomplish nothing except perhaps justify a misguided vision of how a faithful Muslim will receive his/her reward. The question is not why this happens to which there are only existential answers; rather what can be done about it and what ought not to be done in response.
Clearly the terror attacks are unacceptable but violent responses will only increase the possibility of escalation. Continued aggressive rhetoric is wonderful for the right-wing coalition and enables Bibi to stall and obfuscate any efforts to solve the stand-off with the Palestinians, but to what constructive end. It also underscores some of the claims in the report of the Quartet as to why the prospects for a two state solution may be dimming. Only improved economic opportunity, freezing of settlement construction, intensified dialogue might begin to improve the violent climate. (It has been reported that the Palestinian and Israeli military authorities were already operating in much closer synch than ever before, although even such coordination clearly cannot prevent all horrible, isolated terrorist incidents.)
As for the damning comments of Jeremy Corbyn, his recantation might have served to disavow his remarks were it not for the fact that, despite his receiving a vote of no-confidence after the Brexit vote from the Labour MP’s in Commons, he remains the elected leader of the Opposition. In addition, if he also did not have a record of anti-Israel remarks and support for BDS, it could also be seen as an isolated slip. Corbyn repeatedly was also slow and sloppy in reprimanding Labour Party Members who made anti-Semitic remarks over the past several months. Despite the just being completed report ordered by Corbyn on anti-Semitism and racism within the Labour Party, the inability of Corbyn to associate the congruency of anti-Semitism with his own continuing anti-Israel activity remains grossly disturbing.