Sunday, July 23, 2017

Terrorism By Any Other Name

On July 14

three Arab Israelis armed with a pistol and homemade machine guns shot and killed two Israeli police officers early Friday at the entrance to the al-Aqsa Mosque compound.

The three assailants were then chased into the courtyard of the mosque complex, where they were shot and killed by Israeli security forces, authorities said.

William Boothe and Ruth Eglash of The Washington Post note that Tel Aviv responded by erecting "metal detectors at the entrance to the mosque compound in the Old City" which authorites said "were necessary to protect Muslim worshipers and Israeli forces."

In their response to the Israelis, "Muslim spiritual leaders called on their followers to come to Jerusalem to pray at the barricades Friday, the Muslim holy day, as a form of protest."  "After peaceful midday prayers ended," the report adds,

a wave of tire burning and stone throwing by Palestinians began in Arab communities around East Jerusalem and the West Bank.

The protests were met by harsh Israeli countermeasures, including the use of water cannons, rubber bullets, stun grenades and live ammunition.

Three Arab Palestinians were shot dead by Israeli forces and

After nightfall, a Palestinian sneaked into a home in the Israeli settlement of Halamish in the West Bank and stabbed to death three Israelis.

The military said the attacker apparently jumped over the fence and infiltrated the family's home, surprising them as they ate the traditional Sabbath evening meal. It said the Palestinian killed a man and two of his children, while a woman was wounded and taken to hospital. The man's grandchildren were present but not harmed, it said.

The army released footage showing a blood-covered kitchen floor. It said senior military officials are meeting overnight to discuss how to proceed.

"Little by little," one resident of a regugee camp put it, "they (Israelis) want to take al-Aqsa away from us and put up their own temple." However

Israeli officials have pointed out that the Jewish center of prayer, the Western Wall, is accessible only to those who first pass through security checkpoints, including metal detectors. Israeli leaders also said that metal detectors are used at Muslim holy sites around the world, including in Medina and Mecca.

"The raised esplanade in the heart of Jerusalem’s Old City is revered by both Muslims and Jews" and the reporters point out that it is Judaism's holiest site and Islam's third holiest site, administered by Israel and Jordan

under a complicated “status quo” agreement that has been in place for decades. Any change to that agreement — by either side — is seen as a provocation. Under the arrangement, Muslims are allowed to enter and pray freely, while Jews and other visitors can go inside but are forbidden to pray there.

Let's review: two Israeli police officers are killed by three Palestinian Arabs, who are then shot dead. Tel Aviv installs metal detectors, already used to screen individuals entering the Jewish center of prayer, at the entrance to the mosque compound. After peaceful prayers by Muslims end on Friday, Palestinian Arabs riot in other communities in the occupied territories, three are shot and killed while one other breaks into a home and murders a Jewish father and two children in apparent retaliation.

Unfortunately, this latter attack was erroneously called by "a massacre" by a military spokesman. It does not fit the definition of a massacre. Nonetheless, both attacks, of the Jewish family (inarguably) and of the Israeli police officers (arguably) are what until recently were referred to as "terrorism."

The word "terrorism" did not commonly appear in news reports.  (Nor did the generic, hence wildly overused, "terror.") This is not strictly the fault of the press, for Tel Aviv itself avoided using the term.

The media, one suspects, does not want to throw gasoline onto the figurative, nearly literal, fire in the West Bank. Neither, presumably, does the government In Tel Aviv want to add fuel to the fire. (I, on the other hand, will use cliches endlessly.) Even in the administration of the very hawkish Benjamin Netanyahu, this is the Israeli approach. As time marches on, leaders change and circumstances change, but the Israelis are still the Israelis. It's what they do.

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