Israel responds to terror--with a 'Ferguson effect'

Tuvia Brodie,

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Tuvia Brodie
Tuvia Brodie has a PhD from the University of Pittsburgh under the name Philip Brodie. He has worked for the University of Pittsburgh, Chatham College and American Express. He and his wife made aliyah in 2010. All of his children have followed. He believes in Israel's right to exist. He believes that the words of Tanach (the Jewish Bible) are meant for us. His blog address is He usually publishes 3-4 times a week on his blog and 1-3 times at Arutz Sheva. Please check the blog regularly for new posts.

According to the United Nations, a sovereign state has a “Responsibility to Protect” its citizens. This responsibility goes beyond protecting its people against foreign aggression (“The Responsibility to Protect”, Office of the Special Advisor on the Prevention of Genocide, The United Nations,, no date). A state’s ‘responsibility to protect’ extends also to protecting its people within its own borders (“Background Information on the Responsibility to Protect”, Outreach Programme and the Rwanda Genocide and the United Nations, no date).

Some say Israel neglects this second requirement. They argue that Israel doesn’t protect its Jews. Are they right?  

It’s absolutely clear from UN documents (, above) that Israel doesn’t just have a right to defend itself against terror attack within its borders. It has an obligation to do so.

Israel has this specific obligation because the terror it faces is unique: it’s genocide.

We know this terror is genocide because it meets the UN definition for genocide.  According to the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, ‘genocide’ refers to “acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical (sic), racial or religious group” (ibid, Article 2).

Specifically, the attacks we see in Israel are ‘genocide’ because those attacks aim to (a) kill members of a group (Jews); and (b) aim to cause serious bodily or mental harm to members of that group (ibid).

Jews in Israel are a national and religious group. Arabs who commit terror in Israel want to destroy that group and/or cause serious bodily and mental harm to that group. Therefore, Arab attacks against Jews in Israel are acts of ‘genocide’.

‘Genocide’ also includes four other elements found in Arab terror attacks in Israel: (1) conspiracy to commit genocide; (2) direct and public incitement [emphasis mine] to commit genocide; (3) attempts to commit genocide; and (4) complicity in genocide (ibid, Article 3).

One can make a case that the Palestinian Authority (PA) commits all of these acts. One can make a case that the PA is committed to genocide against Jews. Look at the website Palestinian Media Watch. The evidence is there.

Finally, in case someone argues that ‘lone wolf’ attacks against Jews aren’t genocide, the UN declares that “persons committing genocide or any of the other acts enumerated in Article 3 (above) shall be punished, whether they are constitutionally responsible rulers, public officials or private individuals” [emphasis mine] (ibid, Article 4).

Hamas commits acts of genocide against Jews in Israel by conspiring to kill Jews because they are Jews. Fatah and Hamas commit genocide when they incite to kill Jews because they are Jews. ‘Private individuals’ commit acts of genocide when they attack Jews for the same reason.

A state (Israel) has the “responsibility to protect” its population specifically “from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity. This responsibility entails the prevention of such crimes, including their incitement, through appropriate and necessary means [emphasis mine]” (UN General Assembly, sixtieth Session, “Follow-up to the outcome of the Millennium Summit: Draft resolution referred to the High-level Plenary Meeting of the General Assembly by the General Assembly at its fifty-ninth session”, 2005 World Summit Outcome, September 15, 2005, paragraph 138).

In important ways, Israel fails to do this. At the very least, lsrael fails:

-to publicize sufficiently the genocidal nature of these terror attacks;

-to identify sufficiently how Arab media and political leaders call for genocide against Israel; and,

-to take all ‘appropriate and necessary’ steps to prevent genocide and incitement-to-commit-genocide.

Israel does these things only half-heartedly—if at all. It does not fulfil its ‘Responsibility to Protect’ against genocide. Instead, it falls victim to a ‘Ferguson effect’.

Perhaps you remember Ferguson, Missouri. In 2014, it was the scene of rioting following the death of a black youth, whose death was falsely blamed (by activists) on aggressively racist police attitudes towards blacks in Ferguson.

Investigations have shown that the black youth killed by the Ferguson police was not, as claimed, shot in the back—or, alternatively, shot while he held his hands up in surrender. He was shot because he was attacking a police officer and trying to wrest the officer’s gun from him.

Riots erupted before anyone knew the facts of the case.  Ferguson’s reputation was trashed.

Then there were riots in Baltimore, Maryland after a black youth was killed by police. Activists cried, 'see how racist police officers attack innocent black youth'.

This is the same situation Israel faces with Arab terrorists. Just as black anti-white activists in the US have falsely claimed that white police ‘execute’ innocent blacks, Arabs falsely claim that Israel brutally ‘executes’ innocent ‘Palestinians’. As a result, both Israel and American security officials have responded the same way—with a ‘Ferguson effect’.

A ‘Ferguson effect’ occurs when security officers become reluctant to engage in proactive policing because of the vitriol they might provoke (Heather Mac Donald, “Rise in Crime Is a Reason to Fear Anti-Police Rhetoric”, New York Times, June 4, 2015). Security people who would normally act in a given situation begin to back off. They fear having their encounters become worldwide video sensations (Scott Johnson, “[FBI Director James] Comey, complete and unexpurgated”, powerline, October 25, 2015). 

Israel behaves the same way towards Arab terrorists. For example, Israel implemented more restrictive rules of engagement for the IDF just as Arab rioting had begun to increase (“New IDF Rules of Engagement: Israeli Troops Must Fire in the Air When Engaging Terrorists”, Jewsnews, August 13, 2015).  Israel did this hoping to avoid ‘worldwide video sensations’ that claim to show IDF brutality and racism (Noam Amir, “Israeli combat troops react angrily to new rules of engagement in West Bank”, Jerusalem Post, August 12, 2015).

In August 2015, the IDF backed off. One month later, Israel got more terrorism. Has Israel become ‘Ferguson-ized’?

Israel has a problem. Israel isn’t Ferguson, Missouri. Israel faces genocide—a barbaric passion to erase all Jews from Israel (“Hamas cleric:  “Our belief about fighting you [Jews] is that we will exterminate you”, pmw, July 24, 2014).

Israel has a ‘Responsibility to Protect’ its Jewish population. Bringing a ‘Ferguson’ mentality to genocidal terror attacks doesn’t help Israel. It helps the terrorists.