While UCLA students call for an intifada from the comforts of their Los Angeles campus, Israelis and Palestinians suffer the consequences.
Last Tuesday, Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), a pro-Palestinian student organization with an anti-Semitic history, protested on Bruin Walk, chanting “Long live the intifada!” Intifada—the Arabic word for “rebellion” or “uprising”—refers to the First and Second Intifada (1987-1993 and 2000-2005), during which thousands of people died as Palestinian terror groups conducted suicide bombings, rocket attacks, and shootings across Israel. These past few weeks alone attest to how these incendiary words take effect in the Middle East. “Long live the intifada” is a call for further chaos, not peace.
The conflict takes form at UCLA. While students call their families in Israel to make sure they are all right, members of SJP are promoting this deadly form of Palestinian resistance.
This past month, Israel has experienced a wave of terror attacks, taking the lives of Jews, Druze, Christians, Arabs, and Ukrainians alike.
The current atmosphere in Israel suggests that little has changed since the Second Intifada. March 2002 was a heinous month in Israeli history, totaling 133 Israeli deaths during the Second Intifada. Twenty years later, Israel again faces a spring marked by 18 Israeli lives lost to terror.
On March 22, a Bedouin-Israeli in Be’er Sheva’s city center stabbed two mothers, a father, and rammed his car into a cyclist. The attacks killed four and injured two.
The assailant was identified as Mohammad Ghaleb Abu al-Qi’an, a teacher in the Bedouin town of Hura in southern Israel. He had been imprisoned for involvement with the Islamic State, but was released in 2019 after serving out his sentence. After pleading with the assailant to surrender, an armed bus driver neutralized Al-Qi’an.
The Times of Israel reported that while Hamas did not claim the attack, they applauded Al-Qi’an’s terror against Israelis. Hamas spokesperson Abd al-Latif al-Qanou exclaimed on Hamas radio that Israel “…shall be met with heroic operations: stabbings, rammings and shootings” .
The Be’er Sheva terror attack comes after a string of terror attacks in Jerusalem and the West Bank. Similar to last year, the holy month of Ramadan saw a wave of anti-Israel violence. Al-Qi’an’s attack had been the deadliest in four years, but was quickly followed by a series of deadly shooting attacks in central Israel.
Five days later, two terrorists from the Arab-Israeli village of Umm el-Fahm swore allegiance to ISIS and hunted civilians on the streets of the Israeli city, Hadera. They shot and killed two members of the Border Police – 19-year-old Yazan Fallah, a member of the Druze ethno-religious minority, and Shirel Aboukaret, a 19-year-old Jewish girl from Netanya – and injured twelve others before undercover police killed him.
Two days after that attack, on March 29th, a Palestinian gunman opened fire at civilians in the ultra-Orthodox city of Bnei Brak. The terrorist, Diaa Hamarsheh, entered Israel illegally from the Palestinian village of Yab’ad, outside of Jenin in the West Bank. He murdered five people, including an Israeli-Arab policeman responding to the scene, two Ukrainian nationals, a rabbi, and a father of five.
On Thursday, April 7th, terrorism infiltrated the heart of Israel, Tel Aviv. On a bustling Thursday night, when most Israelis are out enjoying the local bar scene, Palestinian gunman, Raed Hazem from Jenin, opened fire on Dizengoff Street, killing three and injuring dozens more. Panic struck the city as hundreds of civilians ran for cover. The night proceeded with a manhunt for the terrorist, in which Israeli counterterrorism neutralized him near a mosque in Jaffa, a predominantly mixed Jewish and Arab city just south of Tel Aviv.
The Guardian headlined the event: “Israeli forces kill Palestinian after Tel Aviv shooting leaves two dead,” before changing the title after backlash. Even in reporting Israeli bloodshed, the news presents Israel’s neutralization of an active terrorist as the problem.
Mainstream media lags behind in reporting the terror attacks that plague everyday life in Israel, yet proactively vilifies Israel through biased reporting of retaliation or by distorting events and framing Israel as the instigator in Palestinian terror attacks.
The media bias is apparent and misinforms the public about the situation in Israel-Palestine. Such misinformation readily drives activists to false conclusions about the conflict and is the root cause of why UCLA students are chanting in support of terror. After all, most people love rooting for the underdog, especially ones portrayed as the sole victim of a two-sided conflict.
The implication of jumping blindly onto these performative trends is its encouragement of the murder of Israelis, which is the reason why, after this spring, dozens of children will grow up fatherless.
Between these mass shootings and stabbings lies the daily atrocities of life in Israel. On March 31st, a Palestinian man stabbed an Israeli on a bus, on which Palestinians and Israelis ride together every day in the West Bank. On April 9th, around a hundred Palestinian rioters desecrated Joseph’s Tomb, one of the holiest sites not only to Judaism, but to Christianity and Islam as well. On April 10th, the stabbing of Israeli Border Police at the entrance of the Cave of the Patriarchs. And an attempted stabbing on April 11th.
In response to these attacks, cities across Gaza and the West Bank celebrated the deaths of Israeli civilians with fireworks and the distribution of sweets. The Palestinian Authority (PA), the ruling government of Palestinian territories in the West Bank, performs a delicate dance of publicly condemning the attacks to maintain diplomatic relations with Israel, while inciting hatred and violence among Palestinians. PA President Mohammad Abbas and Palestinian figurehead for Israel-Palestine relations weakly condemned the attacks. Meanwhile, Akram Rajoub, governor of the Palestinian city of Jenin in the West Bank and senior security official in the Palestinian Authority, applauded the Tel Aviv assailant as a “Fatah fighter.” Jenin is home to the terrorists behind the Tel Aviv shooting, and Fatah is the current ruling political faction of the PA. In addition, Fatah was formerly designated as a terrorist organization by the United States, and was largely responsible for the Second Intifada.
Grisha Yakubovich, the final Israeli mayor of Gaza before the pull-out of Israeli civilians and soldiers in a failed exchange of land for peace in 2005, notes the parallels in the contradictory front of the PA in incentivizing and condemning terror; this two-facedness resembles their attitude during the rise of the Second Intifada.
These past few weeks of unrest highlight the complexity of the Israel-Palestine Conflict, demonstrating the violence within Israel between ISIS, Hamas, and Fatah.
These senseless attacks make prospects for peace difficult, especially as they heighten Israeli security measures against Palestinians, feeding into a cycle of violence.
In the face of all this terror, it is easy to lose sight of the Israelis and Palestinians that want to coexist in peace. Moreover, it is important to understand that violence does not define these two peoples. Within Israel, the amazing heroism of Israeli Arabs, for example, surpasses racial, religious, and national boundaries and exemplifies the complexity, unity, and resilience of Israeli society. Israeli-Arab policeman Amir Khoury lost his life in defending the State of Israel. Dr. Nidal Muhanna, an Israeli-Arab surgeon in Tel Aviv’s Ichilov Hospital, saved victims of the Tel Aviv shooting. In Palestine, Mohammad Jamous, Palestinian Peacemaker, continues to bring Israelis and Palestinians together and renounce violence everywhere.
On campus, instead of feeding into false narratives and promoting violence, we should welcome an agenda for peace. I offer to take advantage of our unique position as students at UCLA and to work side by side. To open dialogue between our two peoples on campus. To promote a microcosm of mutual understanding, peace, respect, and coexistence. Together, through sharing and understanding each other better, we can start to pave the way to a better tomorrow.