22 November 2014

Terror: the enemy of Palestinian statehood

From The AustralianNovember 22, 2014, by Shmuel Ben-Shmuel:Terror: enemy of Palestinian statehood

Israeli police officers carry the coffin of colleague Zidan Saief, 30, a member of Israel’s Druze minority.
Source: AFP

OVER recent months the streets of Israel, particularly in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, have been the stage for a grotesque theatre of violence perpetuated by a ruthless band of Palestinian extremists.

The victims of this horror have been ordinary citizens, like you and I, going about their daily lives.
While travelling to work, running errands and even in the simple, innocent act of prayer their lives have been shattered. Civilians have been injured and murdered in stabbings, hit-and-runs, shootings and explosions.

This new wave of terror began in a most repulsive manner: with the killing of Chaya Zissel Braun, a three-month-old girl murdered when her and her parents were deliberately run down.

Those that have lashed out so violently against my compatriots have done so in an attempt to fracture the continuity of life in Israel. Their aim is to make violence and fear so omnipresent, so unbearable in the national life of Israel that the resolve of our country, of our people, might collapse.

The recent attack on the Kehillat Bnei Torah synagogue was a demonstration of a most depraved and vicious evil, the likes of which exceed previous horrors. Four rabbis and a Druze police officer were killed in an act of peaceful worship, sacred texts were stained with blood. This incident pushed the turmoil in Israel to a new level of repugnance.

Israel and Australia both live under the perpetual threat of lone-wolf attacks and home-grown terrorism, with both militant Palestinians and Islamic State drawing their evil from the same well of hatred. As such, I welcome Australia’s recent leadership of the UN Security Council.

At a meeting of the UNSC this week Australia brought the focus of the council on to the topic of countering terrorism. Foreign Minister Julie Bishop contended that in order to adequately address terrorism, the UN must work together to learn from, and support one another in efforts to root out the perpetrators of radical violence. I applaud this initiative of Australia’s, because Israel for decades has been one of the most consistent victims of radical religiously motivated violence, but we cannot fight it alone. As Bishop remarked, radical Islamic terrorists “are an affront to Islam. All of us, including Muslim communities themselves, must do more to negate the violent extremist narratives of terrorists and denounce radical preachers of hate in our midst”.

Israel sits at the frontline of the terrorists’ threat and to curtail their radical dystopia from consuming the civilised world a strong and prosperous Israel is vital. This is why free and democratic countries, like Australia, should forge a strong alternative narrative of their own, that can counter the narrative of violence stoked by militant Palestinians and Islamic State. To recognise that an attack on Israeli citizens is an attack on the same fundamental ideals upon which countries like Australia were built: this is the narrative that will demonstrate to Islamic extremists that when they attack Israel — when they desecrate peaceful faith — they attack a camaraderie of nations that will not tolerate violence as a political tool.

We rely on your friendship. This year’s violence has not defeated us, but the people of Israel need to be consoled by solidarity from abroad so that they can trust in the international system to help protect them. Israelis need the international community to be emphatic in condemning the incitement of violence and to encourage Palestinian leadership to curtail violent extremism in their own ranks. The cause of Israel should be the cause of every peace-loving democracy.

Also, Muslims that desire a sustainable statehood for Palestinians should loathe and abhor the recent murder of Israelis as much as anyone else, for, in addition to being an affront to our common humanity, it only damages their aspirations.

Make no mistake; those that employ terrorism as a means of furthering political Islam are the greatest enemies of Palestinian statehood.

The people who live among this conflict need to be able to give their leaders the space to lead. That bands of disgruntled and radicalised Palestinians continue to take matters into their own hands, motivated by blind hatred and anger, only impedes the ability of our leaders to act with the measured clarity that is required.

*Shmuel Ben- Shmuel is the Israeli ambassador to Canberra.