Two Palestinian thugs, armed with cleavers, knives and a gun, invaded an orthodox synagogue in West Jerusalem early Tuesday during morning prayers, and proceeded to murder four Jewish worshippers in cold blood. At least a dozen others were wounded. Three of the murder victims were American citizens. The fourth was a British citizen. Three of the victims were also rabbis. Israeli police, arriving at the scene of the horrific massacre and exchanging gunfire with the Palestinians as they tried to escape, shot the murderers to death. But the horrible images of the slain and wounded worshippers with blood everywhere, drenching holy books, prayer shawls and walls of the synagogue, will live on for a very long time.
“To see Jews wearing tefillin and wrapped in the tallit lying in pools of blood, I wondered if I was imagining scenes from the Holocaust,” said Yehuda Meshi Zahav, the veteran leader of a religious emergency-response team as quoted by the New York Times. “It was a massacre of Jews at prayer.”
At least ten Jews have now been run over by cars and killed, or have been stabbed to death by Palestinians during the last month. Call this latest spate of violence the “Car Intifada,” as some Palestinian social media refer to it with a song by that name, or the “Knife Intifada,” as other Palestinians have coined it. Either way, Palestinian leaders have Jewish blood on their hands after exhorting their followers to commit such violent acts. The inciters to murder are as guilty as the murderers themselves.
Predictably, Hamas praised the cowardly synagogue attack as a “heroic” act. Hamas’s leadership claimed that the brutal murders were justified as legitimate responses to Israeli actions. “There is no solution for the Palestinian question except through Jihad. Initiatives proposals and international conferences are all a waste of time,” a spokesman for Hamas declared. Senior Hamas official Ghazi Hamad told Al Jazeera International to expect “more revolution in Jerusalem, and more uprising.”
A Hamas official posted an image of a grotesque poster depicting the attack on his Facebook page. It showed Palestinians brandishing guns and a bloodied knife rampaging through a synagogue with bodies of Jews strewn on the floor and other Jews trying to flee the terror. In the evil perverted minds of Hamas jihadists and their ilk, the killing of Jews even while praying in their own synagogue far removed from the Temple Mount is a cause for great celebration.
Palestinian Authority President Abbas, whose talk of a “religious war” and other incendiary rhetoric helped to incite the latest in a series of violent attacks against Jewish civilians in Jerusalem and elsewhere, issued a formulaic condemnation of the synagogue killings. At the same time he continued his lie-ridden rant against Israelis:
The president always condemns killings of civilians from any party whatsoever, and condemns the killing of worshipers today in one of the houses of worship in West Jerusalem, and also denounces all violent acts no matter what their source is, and demands an end to the ongoing incursions into the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the provocative acts by Israeli settlers as well as incitement by some Israeli ministers.
The presidency also confirms that it is time to end the occupation and end the causes of tension and violence, affirming our commitment to a just-based solution on the basis of a two-state solution, in accordance with the resolutions of international legitimacy, and maintain an atmosphere of calm and understandings that have been made with King Abdullah II and American Secretary of State John Kerry in Amman.
Meanwhile, official Palestinian Authority television is reported to have broadcast disgusting images of Bethlehem residents handing out candy in the streets, to celebrate the attack. And an official spokesman for Abbas’s Fatah party, Ahmed Assaf, said that “the Jerusalem operation was a natural response to the Israeli violations.”
Secretary of State Kerry, who just a few days ago expressed his belief that tensions in Jerusalem were beginning to de-escalate, issued a strong condemnation of the synagogue murders. “To have this kind of act, which is a pure result of incitement, of calls for ‘days of rage,’ of just irresponsibility, is unacceptable,” Kerry said. “The Palestinian leadership must condemn this and they must begin to take serious steps to restrain any kind of incitement …This simply has no place in human behavior and we need to hear from leaders who are going to lead their people to a different place.”
Clearly, Abbas and his henchmen have not gotten Kerry’s message. And Hamas seeks to characterize the synagogue slaughters as delivering a very different type of message. Mushir al-Masri, a Hamas spokesman, wrote in a Facebook post: “We have the full right to revenge for the blood of our martyrs in all possible means.”
For his part, President Obama did personally condemn the bloody slaughters, saying “there is and can be no justification for such attacks against innocent civilians.” But, as usual, Obama tried to link an act of pure evil — the shedding of innocent blood of worshippers in their holy place of prayer – to the failed peace negotiations. He said that “it is all the more important for Israeli and Palestinian leaders and ordinary citizens to work cooperatively together to lower tensions, reject violence and seek a path forward towards peace.” Obama also continued his false moral equivalency narrative by noting that there has been violence committed on both sides. “Too many Israelis have died, too many Palestinians have died,” Obama said. That’s true, but it is the Palestinians who are at fault. They have rejected real peace, from the original United Nations two-state partition solution more than six decades ago until now, and have instead conducted a relentless campaign of violence against Jewish civilians.
The failed peace talks, the building of additional Jewish housing in Jewish neighborhoods of Jerusalem and the lies about purported Israeli plans to interfere with Muslim worship and invade their mosques serve only as pretexts for Palestinians to satiate their never-ending lust for Jewish blood. Obama’s anti-Israel bias blinds him to the incontrovertible fact that Palestinian leaders have refused to work together with Israeli leaders to lower tensions and reject violence as he has suggested. Only Israel is trying in good faith to lower the temperature and prevent a conflagration. Indeed, while Hamas leaders and Abbas have incited violence with blatant lies about alleged Israeli plans to attack the al-Aqsa Mosque, Prime Minister Netanyahu has tried to de-escalate tensions by even continuing to prevent Jews from exercising their fundamental human right to worship freely wherever they wish, including on the Temple Mount, Judaism’s holiest site.
However, Prime Minister Netanyahu’s patience has just about run out. Now Jews cannot even pray safely in their own synagogues in the uncontested area of West Jerusalem. Such pathological Palestinian behavior must be stopped once and for all.
“This is the direct result of the incitement being led by Hamas and Abu Mazen [Palestinian Authority - PA President Mahmoud Abbas], incitement which the international community is irresponsibly ignoring,” Prime Minister Netanyahu said. “We will respond with a heavy hand to the brutal murder of Jews who came to pray and were met by reprehensible murderers. We will respond harshly,” he added.
The prime minister called for national unity in fighting against “those human animals who committed this massacre” and against Hamas, the Islamic movement, the Palestinian Authority and whomever else “disseminate libels against the state of Israel.”
Demolition of the Palestinian murderers’ homes and arrests of any and all accomplices are first steps. Security will be beefed up all around Jerusalem. More restrictions may be needed on freedom of movement among at least certain segments of the Palestinian population living in Jerusalem. The two killers were residents of East Jerusalem who carried Israeli identification cards allowing them to travel throughout Israel. They also worked in Jewish neighborhoods. In addition, Israeli officials should bring pressure to bear on social media providers such as Facebook to monitor and immediately remove the kind of hate speech inciting violence against Jews, including babies, on sites that Palestinians are regularly frequenting. If necessary, Israel should use its technological prowess to block access to such sites.
Whatever measures Israel takes to protect its citizens against the Palestinians’ bloodlust should be fully supported by the United States. Anti-Israel resolutions at the UN Security Council should be vetoed. UN Human Rights Council kangaroo investigations of alleged Israeli “crimes” should be met with U.S. withdrawal from this farcical body and de-funding. But that is not likely to happen, since President Obama’s thinking is in synch with the anti-Israel, moral equivalency mindset of the UN. When I asked the United Nations High Commissioner for Human rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein for his comment on the Jerusalem synagogue slaughters, he responded in a similar fashion to President Obama’s statement. He condemned any killings of civilians and said he hoped that calm can be restored. He would not criticize the incitements to violence by Hamas and other Palestinian leaders.
If, as expected, the Obama administration continues its campaign to undermine Prime Minister Netanyahu, rather than wholeheartedly support his fight against ISIS look-alikes such as Hamas and other Palestinian murderers of innocent civilians, the prime minister should go over Obama’s head and take his case directly to the American people. His message should be that Israel and America are fighting the same enemy. Israel’s battles against the Palestinian jihadists are inextricably linked with America’s fight against ISIS and other jihadists worldwide who want to destroy the freedoms we take for granted. He can start with a speech to a joint session of Congress, which large bipartisan majorities in both houses of Congress would welcome, even if President Obama is displeased.