Sheri Oz
Sheri OzINN: SO

Israeli Knesset members from the Arab parties have not been known for denouncing terrorist attacks against Israelis. Now, however, some Arab members of the Knesset are tweeting comments. What are they saying and what has changed?

First let us put this in context: In the latest spate of terrorist attacks in Israeli cities that seems like a kind of "opening ceremonies" for the coming Ramadan feast of atrocities, we had the Beersheva car-ramming and stabbings (22 March - one perpetrator), the Hadera shootings (27 March - two perps) and most recently a shooting in Bnei Brak (29 March - three perps). All of these caused 11 Israeli deaths (including a Druze and an Arab, police officers who came to the scene) and about 14 injuries. All the terrorists were killed except for two suspected for assisting the Bnei Brak shooter and who are still at large at this moment.

24 News reports that Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas condemned the latest attack. This is in contrast with his usual silence after terrorist attacks of any kind, but that will not prevent him from paying a lifelong "salary" to the families of the murderers, generally commemorated as shahidim by the PA. He will certainly pay the family of the terrorist from the PA, and he may even extend such a stipend to the families of the Israeli Arab terrorists.

Israeli Arab Leaders React

Ra'am head Mansour Abbas tweeted within about two hours after each of the first two attacks, writing that he condemns such violence against innocent civilians and claimed that ISIS-type terror is not representative of Israeli Arab society as Arabs want to live respectfully within the framework of the law and in a system that respects human life and Arab-Jewish co-existence.

But why did he specifically name it ISIS-type terror and not just say terror, implying just simply, terror(!)? Was he trying to draw a line between Arabs who support ISIS and those who are merely against the "Zionist entity" without being members of ISIS?

מגנה את הפשע הנתעב בעיר חדרה, מדובר בטרור דאעשי נתעב שאינו מייצג את החברה הערבית בישראל, המחפשת חיים בכבוד במסגרת שלטון החוק, ובמסגרת מערכת ערכים המכבדת ומקדשת חיי אדם, חיים משותפים ערבי ויהודי, וערכי שלום וסובלנות. תנחומיי למשפחות הנרצחים, ומאחל החלמה מהירה לפצועים.

— Mansour Abbas מנסור עבאס (@mnsorabbas) March 27, 2022

For some reason, it took him until midnight, five hours after the news broke about the Bnei Brak attack before he tweeted, again denouncing terror against innocent civilians, claiming that we all stand against murderous terror as it does not differentiate among its victims.

בבני ברק התרחש היום פשע טרור מתועב ומגונה, נגד אזרחים חפים מפשע . משתתף בצער המשפחות ומאחל רפואה שלמה לפצועים.
כולנו ביחד ניצבים מול גל טרור רצחני, כולנו ללא הבדל. רחובות הערים בישראל גדושים באזרחים ערבים ויהודים, ומי שיוצא במסע הרג נבזה לא מבחין ולא מבדיל בין דם לדם.

— Mansour Abbas מנסור עבאס (@mnsorabbas) March 29, 2022

He followed this up with a series of tweets released at the same time in which he announced his intention to work against the extremists on both sides who are harming relations between Arabs and Jews and threatening to ruin the upcoming holidays for all of us. He wrote that without being cynical or sarcastic.

He did pay a visit to one of the burned-out synagogues in Lod last May, something that is not characteristic of Arab political leaders. However, it is not clear how much of this is lip-service to a government that has awarded the Arab sector millions in development funds, something he would not want to jeapardize, versus indicating a true change in direction.

Ahmad Tibi did not write anything in condemnation of the terrorist attacks against Israelis except to repost the Joint List Party condemnations of the Beersheva and the Hadera attacks. In both posts, the party claimed that there is no connection between the terrorist attack and the Arab sector’s legitimate fight for their rights, arguing that they do not agree with the dangerous beliefs of ISIS and do not believe in violent means. They call on all Jews and Arabs to act responsibly at this difficult time.

I do not recall similar calls to both Arabs and Jews to act "responsibly" after attacks in Judea-Samaria blamed, rightly or not, on "settler violence."

Furthermore, the Beersheva attack comment showed a serious misunderstanding when the Joint List asked that the lone-wolf attack not be allowed to drag us into "a wave of incitement and violence against the Arab population in general and the Bedouin in the Negev in particular." After all, two terrorists were directly involved in the Hadera attack and three in Bnei Brak.

Interestingly, in the early afternoon before the Bnei Brak shooting, Tibi tweeted his protest regarding the actions of the current government against renewal of the political process toward peace with the Palestinian Authority. And then, just 30 minutes before that attack began, he tweeted two comments from an interview on Israel's army radio. In one, he claimed that you cannot disconnect the Beersheva and Hadera attacks from ISIS, an organization that has cost thousands of Muslim lives [outside of Israel and the PA] and that has ruined the reputation of the religion. ISIS, he says, is rejected by Israeli Arab society.

In the second, he blames the government for not having heeded the calls by Arab leaders for disarming the Arab towns from their illegal weapons.

ח"כ @Ahmad_tibi מותח ביקורת אצל @efitriger: "למה לעזאזל המשטרה לא הקשיבה להנהגה הערבית ולא אספה את הנשק מהיישובים הערביים? האנשים האלה היו מוכרים למשטרה. מבקש שתקשיבו לקריאות המהדהדות, הנואשות והמתמשכות של הציבור הערבי"
(צילום: יונתן זינדל, פלאש90)

— גלצ (@GLZRadio) March 29, 2022

I have not yet seen evidence of anyone questioning him in interviews about his support for martyrs acting against Israel. He has openly lectured about this in at least one venue, and there are likely more that were not recorded, and in the Knesset he eulogized terrorists killed in action.

"פסגת הנגב" שמתעלמת מהפלסטינים רק מעמיקה את הכיבוש.
הפסגה שמתכנסת היום בנגב אינה פסגת שלום, אלא צעד נוסף במימוש המטרה האסטרטגית של ממשלת ישראל - דחיקת הנושא הפלסטיני לתחתית סדר היום.

— הרשימה המשותפת القائمة المشتركة (@ListJoint) March 27, 2022

Finally, Ayman Odeh tweeted after the Bnei Brak attack, writing:

Five citizens were killed today, each one a whole world in himself. They are added to the 51 Palestinians killed since the beginning of the year, each one a whole world in himself. The heart breaks in face of the grief and loss for all the families.

1/ חמישה אזרחים נהרגו היום, כל אחד מהם הוא עולם ומלואו. הם מתווספים ל-51 פלסטינים שנהרגו מאז תחילת השנה, כל אחד מהם הוא עולם ומלואו. הלב נקרע אל מול השכול והאובדן של כלל המשפחות.

— Ayman Odeh (@AyOdeh) March 29, 2022

Is the 51st Palestinian killed the murderer of the five victims in Bnei Brak? Odeh is comparing deaths of terrorists to the deaths of their victims. False equivalence masked under an attempt to make it look like the perpetrators of violence are the victims and justifying the ongoing violence he and his colleagues say they condemn.

Blaming Israel Again

As seen by Tibi's tweet above, he blames the government for not having gotten rid of the illegal weapons being held in the Arab sector for the availability of weapons with which to commit terror attacks such as in Hadera and Bnei Brak. However, it is well known that the Arabs in the Palestinian Authority produce their own Carlo submachine guns without having to steal from the IDF and it is possible that once the Arab towns are cleaned up, they will start making their own weapons as well.

It is also well known, but beyond the scope of this article to delve into, that Arab political leaders were not well disposed toward the government getting involved in what they considered their own internal affairs. The fact that our governments went along with that is on us.

It is also ignoring the fact that cars and knives are not illegal unless and until used as weapons of war.

Most recently, the movement toward normalization of relations between Israel and her neighbours, leaving the Palestinian Authority out in the cold, has ired Arab political leaders in Israel as well as the PA. Some pundits predicted that this would bring an increase in local violence.

The Negev Summit was the last straw, perhaps. The Joint List tweeted that the Summit only intensifies the occupation and does not promote peace. While rightwing Israelis were upset the Summit was not held in Jerusalem, it was perhaps more symbolic, and more enraging for the Arabs, that it was held in the desert that was the site of recent altercations between the state that wants to bring order to the chaos and the Bedouins that do not want to give up the lands upon which they have spread.

"פסגת הנגב" שמתעלמת מהפלסטינים רק מעמיקה את הכיבוש.
הפסגה שמתכנסת היום בנגב אינה פסגת שלום, אלא צעד נוסף במימוש המטרה האסטרטגית של ממשלת ישראל - דחיקת הנושא הפלסטיני לתחתית סדר היום.

— הרשימה המשותפת القائمة المشتركة (@ListJoint) March 27, 2022

The month of Ramadan begins on April 2 this year and Land Day is March 30. Ramadan and Land Day are known for being marked by violence against Israel and attacks against Jews without any excuses needing to be offered.

And finally, whenever there have been terrorist attacks in the past, some timely excuse was raised, even in cases when the attack must have involved long-term planning for successful execution and was not at all a spontaneous act of anger.

It is new to see tweets from Arab political leaders in Israel condemning acts of terror committed against civilians. Is Mansour Abbas being genuine or is he protecting his investment in the current coalition government? Are the other Arab leaders not prepared to let Abbas appear to be more humane than they for their own political reasons? Time will tell.

Sheri Oz blogs at Israel Diaries