Reactions to the Jerusalem terror attack

Some thoughts on the terror attack in Jerusalem


In the wake of a terror attack in Jerusalem in which seven people were murdered, we are hearing the usual condemnations and also the typical comments about how this is a “cycle of violence.” I’ve lived in Jerusalem around 18 years and every time there is an attack like this, in which a number of civilians are killed, it’s always interesting to see how detached from reality many of the statements are.

Let me just give a few examples from social media. These are not just random people, but important commentators, people linked to international organizations and activists. One spoke of “the pain we feel when our life is devastated, shattered, by sudden, senseless loss.” So far so good. But then the person references that the attack on civilians was linked to Israel’s “55 years” of occupation. Under this logic somehow the Israeli military control of the West Bank makes it acceptable for people to attack civilians. And the logic of these commentators is interesting. On the one hand the mitigate or downplay the mass murder, but then also blame it on Israel’s policies (i.e collective punishment against Israelis is ok) and then they claim it is just a “criminal act by an individual” and then condemn Israel for raids against terror cells, claiming Israel is involved in war crimes and “collective punishment.” In this logic trap of feedback loop confirmation bias, Israel is always wrong and when Israelis are killed it is excused. Israel can’t extricate itself from this situation, because even when it left Gaza, the “militants” still have a “right to resist” and international law and human rights groups claim Israel still “occupies” Gaza.

Then you get the people with the cliché-ridden statements that look like they were written by one of those AI programs, with the usual “thoughts and prayers” and “cycle of violence.” If it’s always a “cycle” then it sounds like a pre-scripted story, how does one ever leave the script? Israel raids terrorists who are preparing an attack and that is a “cycle” and then someone kills Israeli civilians and that is a “cycle.” Like the endless occupation of Gaza, it doesn’t really matter what Israel does, there is always a “cycle.”

One commentator discussing the “terrible” attack on Israelis, claims that it should be connected to “the 30 Palestinians that have been killed by Israel just this month. This is a cycle of violence borne of Israeli apartheid.” So think about this: Many of those Palestinians who were killed were armed men who had illegal weapons and were involved in gun violence. Nevertheless in this logic circle, if Israel kills an armed man then if another person stabs Israeli civilians, then the killing of the civilians is always “because” Israel’s army killed an armed militant somewhere else. There’s no escape from the “cycle” because of the privilege of the armed men. Whether you call them “terrorists” or not, they always have the “right to resist” and “response” and it’s always a cycle. Israelis defending themselves from a terror attack create the very “cycle” for the “response” of the next attack. It’s a loop.

Then you get the comments that condemn the victims for living in an “illegal settlement near Jerusalem.” It’s not “near” Jerusalem, it’s a suburb of Jerusalem connected to the city by a light rail. Israel annexed it. Ok, so some see that as a “settlement,” but so long as the excuse of “it’s a settlement” makes it ok to attack civilians, so then this can never end, because Israel isn’t going to leave Jerusalem. So creates the excuse of the “right” to attack. So once again, the cycle can’t end.

The reactions to the attack therefore sometimes justify the attack, or downplay it. And even when the attack is condemned, we hear stuff like “thoughts and prayers.” What is it about the Orwellian group-think AI-generated reactions that always say “thoughts” and “prayers.” What are the “thoughts.”

The range of reactions that see it as a “cycle of violence” therefore create a kind of script where the story is foretold. One feels they are in a kind of pre-written story, and no matter what they do, the story will unfold.

Then there is another issue. Israelis watching their major media channels, which are generally centrist, see the images of Palestinian towns celebrating the attacks. This should give everyone pause. People passing out candies and shooting fireworks to celebrate killing civilians. This then shows the disconnect when people talk about “peace” or “two states” or “one state.” Some of the major human rights groups have demanded Israel create one state between the “river and the sea.” How do they propose one state function when a swath of it passes out candies when civilians are harmed in part of it. How can one have such a state. Yet at some places in the West there will be discussions about a “confederation” and “one state.” This is so removed from reality. On the other hand, so is the “two state” idea. Even when Israel left Gaza, it was still said to “occupy” Gaza. So it doesn’t matter if there are “two states” because the definition will always be “occupation” and “apartheid.” Israel doesn’t control most of the West Bank now, since it is run by the Palestinian Authority, and the Authority enables a massive arms trade in illegal weapons and extremists who target Israel; leading to raids and conflict. How exactly will the “two states” function? Nothing changes if Israel leaves. Israelis see the reality and they know that these ideas are a myth. One can only have two states when both groups want peace and normal states.

There is one last issue. Often people abroad will want to be interested in the “conflict” and will say something that seems supportive like “oh hope you are ok,” but they tend to be reacting to very brief explanations in international media. In another case you’ll get things like basic information that is wrong such as saying Jenin is in “Gaza.” These issues may seem small and well-meaning, but part of the misunderstanding is due to the way the “conflict” is explained. When people read that Israel “kills 9 Palestinians in Jenin,” it makes it seem they were just killed for no reason; not “gun battle with militants leads to nine killed.” And this tendency to want to find equality as in “Israel killed 9 people in Jenin, Palestinians killed seven in Jerusalem” is part of the misguided process. If one thinks that it’s just the way it is, one might look at other conflicts and wonder if the same process plays out. Last year there was a bombing in Istanbul. Turkey blamed “terrorists” in Syria and carried out hundreds of air strikes. There was no “cycle” of violence we heard about and no one said “Turkey’s illegal occupation” was to blame. So it’s not just the “way it is” that narratives operate like this. Only in the case of Israel is there a “cycle” of violence. Only when Israeli civilians are killed is there some excuse.

The disconnect between the reactions and the reality; the proposals and reality, is why nothing changes.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s