Wednesday saw multiple terror attacks throughout Israel, a wave of Palestinian violence which included scores of rock throwing incidents, dozens of firebomb attacks, several stabbings, a near lynching and one attempted run over attack. The day of terror was preceded by a stabbing attack in Jerusalem on Saturday which left two Jews dead, and a shooting attack by terrorists on a car in the West Bank last Thursday in which an Israeli man and woman (Eitam and Naama Henkin) were executed in front of four of their children.
The strap line in a lengthy Guardian analysis of the “root causes” of this recent wave of terror, by their Jerusalem correspondent Peter Beaumont (Violence in Israel and the Palestinian territories, A Guardian briefing, Oct. 7), is quintessentially “Guardianesque”, as it comports perfectly with the broader ideological lens which has informed their coverage on the conflict since at least the 2nd Intifada.
Indeed, the strap line – likely written by a sub-editor – is quite apt in characterizing Beaumont’s take on the violence. After noting the details of some of the most recent attacks, he attempts to explain why it’s happening now.
Jerusalem has remained tense now for almost a year. Most analysts blame the recent heightened tension on several factors. Key among them has been the issue of the religious site in Jerusalem known to Muslims as al-Haram al-Sharif, or the Noble Sanctuary, and Jews as the Temple Mount.
A long-running campaign by some fundamentalist Jews and their supporters for expanding their rights to worship in the Al-Aqsa mosque compound on the Temple Mount, supported by rightwing members of Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s own cabinet, has raised the suspicion – despite repeated Israeli denials – that Israel intends to change the precarious status quo for the site, which has been governed under the auspices of the Jordanian monarchy since 1967.
Recent Israeli police actions at the site scandalised the Muslim world and raised tensions. Israel has also banned two volunteer Islamic watch groups – male and female – accusing them of harassing Jews during the hours they are allowed to visit.
That has combined with the lack of a peace process and growing resentment and frustration in Palestinian society aimed at both Israel and the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, and the Palestinian Authority.
The inversion of reality is astonishing.
Beaumont’s first major “root cause” – “a campaign by some fundamentalist Jews and their supporters for expanding their rights to worship” – reads like a talking point by the al-Aqsa rioters themselves. Though there’s no serious possibility that the ban on Jewish prayer will be lifted, is Beaumont really suggesting that the mere possibility of Jews praying at their holiest site is sufficient to “incite” otherwise peaceful Palestinians to attack police and kill Jewish civilians?
Moreover, the “Israeli actions” at the Temple Mount he references were of course all in response to Palestinian violence – or planned violence – at the site. The Guardian is egregiously misleading readers by conflating the cause and effect.
The Guardian’s ‘expert’ on the region evidently believes that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’s praising of Palestinians who try to kill Jewish civilians, as “martyrs,” or his complaint that Jews who set foot on the greater Mosque compound “desecrate” it “with their filthy feet” are not relevant factors in contextualizing the violence.
Also, unworthy of consideration by Beaumont is the disturbing fact that a terror group linked to Abbas’ own Fatah movement reportedly claimed responsibility for the murder of the Henkins last week, or the fact that the Palestinian who stabbed two Jews to death on Saturday posted a Facebook message prior to his rampage echoing the conspiracy theories about the mosque promulgated by PA officials.
Additionally, Beaumont’s claim that a lack of progress in the peace process has frustrated Palestinians, and thus helped fueled the violence, is undermined by the fact that both deadly attacks (on the couple in the West Bank and the two men in Jerusalem) were carried out by terrorists reportedly affiliated with Hamas and Islamic Jihad, two groups who reject the peace process and call for Israel’s annihilation.
Tellingly, nowhere in Beaumont’s nearly 1200 word report is there any indication that he holds Palestinian terrorists who’ve murdered (or attempted to murder) Jews responsible for their violent acts, that their extremist, antisemitic ideology may drive their actions or that the drumbeat of incitement by PA leaders plays a role in the terror.
Regardless of the circumstances or how many Jews are victimized by terrorism, the drama will inevitably be framed by Guardian journos, contributors, and editors as “far-right”, Jewish extremists vs “frustrated” Palestinians. The details from day-to-day may change, but their narrative of Israeli villainy and seemingly immutable Palestinian victimhood remains the same.