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Myth

Palestinians Oppose Terrorism

Fact

Let us stipulate that Palestinians are unhappy living under Israeli rule and face many hardships. The question they face is how to improve their situation and, ideally, achieve independence. To their misfortune, Palestinian leaders have eschewed the one way to reach their goals: negotiation. Instead, since well before Israel’s capture of the West Bank in 1967, Palestinians have chosen the path of violence in the misguided belief that they can either inflict enough pain on Israelis to force them to capitulate to their demands or draw enough sympathy to their plight that the international community will pressure Israel on their behalf. The failure of these strategies over nearly 80 years has not convinced them to eschew terror and embrace compromise. Worse, Palestinian leaders have engaged in constant incitement through sermons, social and conventional media, education, and acculturation, which has inspired men, women, and even children to engage in terrorism. Palestinians have been encouraged to seek martyrdom rather than become doctors, lawyers, and scientists. Rather than peaceful demonstrations, suicide bombing became a form of Palestinian “protest.” Israel’s agreement to negotiate with the PLO was predicated on Yasser Arafat’s commitment to cease all violence. The promise of the Oslo agreements was sabotaged by Arafat’s refusal to fulfill this obligation and the terrorism that has continued unabated. Israelis are also aware of the incitement by the Palestinian Authority and the widespread support for “resistance.” Support for a violent uprising reached as high as 54% in polls of Palestinians in 2021. Other polls found a third or more of Palestinians favoring armed struggle. Perhaps more alarming was a Pew survey, which found that 62% of Palestinian Muslims said suicide bombings are often or sometimes justified to defend Islam from its enemies. The results were nearly equal in Hamas-ruled Gaza (64%) and the Fatah-governed West Bank (60%).1 In an analysis of polls conducted by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research (PSR), Daniel Polisar found a consistent approval pattern for generic terror attacks against Israelis. What was more disturbing, however, is that when Palestinians were asked their opinions about specific assaults that resulted in the death of Jews, their level of support increased dramatically.2 In March 2016, for example, 60% of Palestinians supported “attacks against Israeli civilians within Israel.” In June, 65% said they approved a suicide bombing on a Jerusalem bus that wounded more than twenty Israelis. Polisar concludes that “would-be terrorists contemplating an attack can be reasonably confident that if they succeed in killing or injuring Israeli civilians, their actions will earn support and praise in their society—for themselves, their families, and the militant group to which they belong, whether or not they live to enjoy it personally. Indeed, they will be seen as heroes, not only in the communiques of Hamas, but in the minds of rank-and-file Palestinians.” People looking for reasons why peace has not been achieved should recognize the role terrorism plays in reinforcing Israeli fears that no concessions will end violence against them.

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