Displaying a level of concern that one never hears when an Israeli child dies, the Biden administration says it is “heartbroken” by the recent death of Palestinian Arab child and is demanding a “thorough and immediate” investigation of the incident.
I have a feeling that if Israel really does conduct a thorough investigation, U.S. officials may regret that they asked for it.
The incident started, last Thursday, when a group of young Palestinian Arabs tried to stone some Israeli Jews to death near the village of Teqoa, next to Bethlehem.
So, Israel’s thorough investigation will have to begin by exploring the perplexing fact that 29 years after the Palestinian Arab leadership signed a peace agreement with Israel—the Oslo accords—young Arabs are still trying to murder Jews at random.
I, for one, would be very interested to hear how the State Department accounts for the fact that these “moderate” Palestinian Arabs continue to wage war against the Jews. Does it mean that the Palestinian leaders’ signatures on the Oslo accords were worthless? Does it mean that violence and antisemitism are so deeply imbedded in Palestinian Arab society that no peace treaty can stamp them out? I think the Israeli investigators should pose these questions to the State Department and include their responses in the final report.
Next, the thorough Israel investigation will need to examine the specifics of the attempted stoning of Jews. The rock-throwers left their village, Teqoa, and went to a nearby road where they expected Israeli civilian automobiles to be traveling. That means the assault was carefully planned and implemented; it wasn’t a response to some Israeli “provocation.”
How could the parents of these Arab youngsters allow them to go out in order to commit random murders? The Israeli investigators will need to ask some hard questions about child rearing and education in Palestinian Arab culture.
The attackers did not merely make plans; they carried them out. They hurled rocks at Israeli vehicles driving by. So, Israel’s thorough investigation will need to explain the lethal potential of such behavior. They should name the 15 Israelis who have been murdered by Arab rock-throwers in recent years. They should also name some of the many Israelis who have been permanently maimed by rock attacks. This is important so that those who read the final report will appreciate the significance of what took place in Teqoa. It was not kids skipping stones on a pond. It was attempted murder.
In order that American readers of the final report understand the broader context, the Israeli investigators probably should recall at least one well-known case of rock-throwing in the United States. I suggest including the infamous incident in which three American teenagers threw rocks at cars on the Capital Beltway in Washington, D.C., in 1990, wounding thirty drivers or passengers, including a girl who suffered irreversible brain damage. Those attackers were convicted of "assault with intent to murder" and each sentenced to 40 years in prison. The judge declined to view the attack as a “rite of passage.”
An editorial in the Washington Post at the time correctly asked, "What's the difference between assault with a deadly weapon--a shooting--and assault with rocks that hit cars at potentially lethal speeds?"
In last Thursday’s incident, Israeli soldiers chased the rock-throwers, who fled back into the village of Teqoa. Two of them, the Suleiman brothers, reached their family’s home. From news reports, it appears that the soldiers did not arrest the two attempted murderers, presumably because of their young age (8 and 10). An Israeli Army spokesman said that “During the searches, there were no confrontations and no use of riot disperse means.”
Sometime later that day or the next day, a third child in that home, 7 year-old Rian Suleiman, died, apparently as a result of some kind of heart problem. The Israeli Army said, “his death had nothing to do with the IDF’s activities in the area." Nonetheless, the Palestinian Authority immediately claimed, falsely, that Rian died as a result of falling down while being chased by Israeli troops.
The thorough Israeli investigation should help the Biden administration understand why the PA routinely makes false accusations against Jews and Israel, ranging from accusing Israel of committing “massacres” that never occurred, to accusing world Jewry of fabricating the Holocaust. Many Americans, including American government officials, are often confused when they hear PA officials spreading insane conspiracy theories. This troubling phenomenon merits serious consideration.
Israel’s thorough investigation should also consider one additional issue of significance. In 2005, Hamas supporters won a majority of seats in the municipal elections in Teqoa. Hamas is on the U.S. list of terrorist groups and is responsible for the murders of dozens of American citizens. The current position of the Biden administration is that Israel should permit the creation of a Palestinian Arab state in nearly all of Judea-Samaria, along the nine-miles-wide pre-1967 lines. If Teqoa, which is currently under nominal Israeli control, is already run by Hamas supporters and educates its children to stone Jews to death, what can we expect if it were to become part of a sovereign State of Palestine? Would such an outcome really be in America’s best interest?
The “heartbroken” Biden administration officials who are demanding a “thorough” Israeli investigation may think it will turn up something that will make the Israeli Army look bad. But if the Israelis do a properly thorough investigation, examining and explaining all of the circumstances surrounding the Teqoa incident, it likely will confront Washington with facts that U.S. officials will wish had remain hidden.
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 author of “A Father’s Story: My Fight for Justice Against Iranian Terror.”