This Is Not the Wild West but It Sure Looks Like It

This Is Not the Wild West but It Sure Looks Like It

Gilbert N. Kahn is a professor of Political Science at Kean University.

While watching the seemingly spontaneous attacks by Palestinians against mostly Israeli civilians as well as the seemingly aggressive responses from the Israeli police and military against the Palestinian perpetrators, there are a number of issues emerging which need to be addressed. To date all of the attention of reporters, analysts, and politicians has been on two of these factors and no one really wants to address the other.  

First, what is causing all this outburst of violence?  Most of the explanations continue to focus on the Palestinians frustration with the continuing Israeli occupation which exploded following the confrontations which occurred last month on the Temple Mount/Haram al Sharif. This is a totally bogus explanation because unlike the second intifada which also followed a confrontation in the Old City of Jerusalem, this appears to be a sequence of random acts of violence against Israelis and not an organized set of attacks at Israeli targets or places. In addition, these acts of brutal violence are being committed by Palestinians; both young and old, men and women, with guns, knives, and screwdrivers. They are occurring against Jews in Jerusalem, on the West Bank, and throughout Israel. (The Gaza attacks appear to be much more like the historical confrontations which have taken place along the border with Israel.)

Second, the media focus so far has been consistently on the Israeli police/military responses to the attacks and not to the fact that random Israeli citizens were being assaulted by Palestinians. It is truly beginning to look like a renewal of the old Wild West, with only the outlaws getting the coverage. It is very difficult to change the media and political image of the frustrated Palestinians exploding with justification. Victims become martyrs and the cycle of violence continues.

The real problem is that no one has come up with serious options as to how to stop this cycle of violence. There are no recommendations and no Palestinian leaders who even view this as counterproductive to their ultimate cause. If Israel opts for radical measures such as curfew roundups, lock downs, and/or roundups it will only fill the prisons and solve nothing.  Only Palestinian leaders or a bold intersession by an international figure can reduce and eliminate the violence. To date, there are no figures who are bold and courageous enough to take on this responsibility. 

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