Stephen M. Flatow
Stephen M. FlatowCourtesy

For months, crowds of white protesters gathered outside the homes of the few black residents of their neighborhood and shouted slogans demanding that the blacks move away. One day, a teenage white girl living on the block followed one of the black housewives down the street and stabbed her in the back, seriously wounding her, as her two small children watched in horror. Do the protesters bear any responsibility for the assault?

Now, replace the word “blacks” with “Jews,” and substitute “Arab and leftwing protesters” for “white protesters.” Does that change anything about the question of responsibility?

Because, as we all know, Arab and leftwing protesters have been gathering outside the homes of the Jewish residents of the Shimon HaTzaddik/Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood in Jerusalem and demanding that the Jews be expelled.

And a few days ago, an Arab teenager who lives on the block picked up a knife and followed Mrs. Dvir Cohen as she walked her two small children to school. The teenager plunged the knife into Mrs. Cohen’s back.

The stabber was putting the logic of the protesters into practice. Every day, for months, they yelled, “Jews, get out!” She heard their words, and she decided to put those words into action. She used a knife in the hope of forcing the Jews to get out.

By coincidence, Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, complaining last week about one of her critics, told the Washington Post, “Words can cause violence.” I don’t think much of Omar—you know, because of her record of making antisemitic remarks. But as they say, even a stopped clock is right twice a day.

Obviously, not all hateful words cause violence. But when those words are part of a torrent of hatred that bombards a particular population day after day, they can have an impact.

That’s why we protest against the Palestinian Authority’s anti-Jewish hate rhetoric. The PA fills its news media, radio and television programs, schools and popular culture with hatred of Jews and glorification of violence. Its preachers do the same. It creates a suffocating atmosphere of bigotry. That environment certainly can incite Palestinian Arabs, especially impressionable youngsters, to engage in violence.

In Shimon HaTzaddik/Sheikh Jarrah, where the homes are legally owned by Jews, the Arab residents every day see and hear crowds of protesters denouncing the Jews, demanding the expulsion of the Jews, accusing the Jews of being the cause of all their problems. It’s not hard to imagine the impact that could have on an impressionable Arab teenager in the neighborhood.

Leftist rally in Shimon Hatzaddik
Leftist rally in Shimon HatzaddikFlash 90

The people who hate the Jews of Shimon HaTzaddik/Sheikh Jarrah are quite fond of Ilhan Omar. Presumably they would agree with her warning that “Words can cause violence.”

Yet I have not heard any expressions of remorse from those whose words may have incited the stabbing. I have not seen any apologies from the “Jews, Get Out!” protesters. I have not found any statements of regret on the websites of the protesters’ American cheerleaders, such as J Street and Americans for Peace Now.

J Street leader Jeremy Ben-Ami couldn’t have missed the story. When he opened his morning newspaper, the Washington Post, there it was, staring him straight in the face, on page 13, in the international news section, top of the fold: “Palestinian Girl Held in Stabbing of Israeli.” Yet for some reason J Street has said nothing about the attack.

Maybe we shouldn’t be surprised by this silence. According to the Washington Post article, Mrs. Cohen’s Arab neighbors have carried out eleven (!) firebomb attacks on her home in recent months. Yet this was the first we’ve heard of that violence—because the news media and the J Streeters were too busy to notice it.

As for poor Mrs. Cohen, she is still recovering in a hospital from the multiple stab wounds in her back—the wounds that don’t seem to count, because she’s Jewish. In the days to come, the almost-murder of Mrs. Cohen will fade from the news. The protesters and op-ed writers will resume shouting for the expulsion of Mrs. Cohen and the other Jewish residents from that Jerusalem neighborhood. And, sooner or later, another terrorist will decide to put the protesters’ shouts into practice.

So, the terrible cycle of incitement and violence will continue, until the day when the people who have helped incite the violence start accepting responsibility for the consequences of their actions.

Stephen M. Flatow, is an attorney and the father of Alisa Flatow, who was murdered in an Iranian-sponsored Palestinian terrorist attack in 1995. He is the author of “A Father’s Story: My Fight for Justice Against Iranian Terrorism.”