Last month, we posted about a remarkably misleading claim by Harriet Sherwood in an article about recent investigations into the death of Yasser Arafat:
Arafat was a man who divided the world: revered by Palestinians and their supporters, reviled by Israel and its allies. Nine years after his death, a portrait of him still hangs in most Palestinian homes. Nonetheless, the Palestinian people have inevitably moved on. Acts of violence, espoused by Arafat, are rare in the West Bank, and rocket fire from Gaza has dropped; instead, the Palestinian leadership has invested its hopes in diplomacy and negotiations.
We noted that her broad suggestion that Palestinians have largely abandoned Arafat’s ‘strategy’ of terrorism represented an egregious distortion based on empirical data detailing the quantity of terror attacks since his death. Further, we argued, though such attacks have decreased overall in comparison to the height of the 2nd Intifada, this reduction can largely attributed to the construction of Israel’s security fence and more effective counter-terror measures – not an evolution in Palestinian attitudes towards terror.
In response to Sherwood’s specific claim that “acts of violence…are rare in the West Bank“, we cited a report by BBC Watch’s Hadar Sela which noted the following:
“Statistics provided by the ISA [Israel Security Agency] for the months July to November 2013 shows that the number of terror attacks taking place in Judea and Samaria [the West Bank] and Jerusalem since the renewal of direct negotiations between Israel and the PLO on July 29th has more than doubled“.
Now, five weeks after Sherwood’s report, Guardian columnist Michael Cohen has made a similarly false claim about Palestinian terror. His Jan. 19th op-ed about current peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians included the following:
But with the head of Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas as supportive of a two-state solution as any Palestinian leader ever; with Hamas in a historically weak position and with Palestinians having largely turned their back on violence as a political tool the Palestinian leadership have stuck along with Kerry’s diplomacy even they are almost certain to get something less than a good deal.
In addition to statistics provided above which clearly contradict claims by Sherwood and Cohen that Palestinians have abandoned terror, a report on Arab public opinion by Pew Global in September demonstrated that “support for suicide bombing and other violence aimed at civilian targets [is] widespread in the Palestinian territories“. A full 62% of Palestinian Muslims believe that such attacks “are often or sometimes justified in order to defend Islam from its enemies”.
Without taking into account the impact of such terror – particularly Israeli fears that, even in the event a final status agreement is reached, they’ll continue to be terrorized by sniper fire, bombings and rocket attacks – it’s impossible to honestly assess the root cause of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict and consider the real factors impeding a just resolution.