International media complicit in the manipulation of public opinion, and the Palestininan Authority is eager to join, but Hamas is driving the war plans.
Since early May, a new spate of violence has plagued Jerusalem and Israel’s southern communities. This latest escalation – replete with riots, rocket fire and incendiary balloons – finds its roots in a property dispute in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah, where four Arab families are slated for eviction over failure to pay rent. Yet, the narrative being sold to the international community is one of illegal expulsions and war crimes.
In reality, this escalation has been completely manufactured by activists hellbent on demonizing Israel and Palestinian leaders aiming to manipulate the ensuing conflict to their advantage. Indeed, the Palestinians have taught us a masterclass in conjuring false narratives and garnering international support.
The eviction from Sheikh Jarrah is undeniably legal and legitimate. Contrary to the misinformation promulgated by the mainstream media, these families are not the owners of the property in which they reside – repeated court cases affirmed this. Although Israel allowed the residents to remain as long as they paid rent, they have failed to do so. As a result, Israel, as any functioning government does, ruled in favor of their eviction. And as Professor Avi Bell of the Kohelet Policy Forum writes, there is nothing in the Geneva Conventions or other laws concerning belligerent occupation that forbids Israel from evicting overstaying tenants.
However, this hasn’t stopped major media outlets and members of Congress from painting the dispute as one of inhumane violence. The UN Human Rights Council chimed in as well, but failed to mention the Palestinians’ role in the fighting.
How did we get to this point? How did the legal evacuation of four Arab families for not paying their rent become an international scandal?
A concerted effort is underway to create a round of violence out of thin air. The not-so-spontaneous eruption of Palestinian riots on the Temple Mount, where they have prepared piles of stones and firebombs to injure police, make this abundantly clear.
Of course, to an extent, all flare ups between Israel and the Palestinians are artificial.
The Second Intifada, for example, in which over one thousand Israelis were killed, was deliberately instigated by then-Palestinian Authority President, Yasser Arafat, after the failure of the peace talks at Camp David. According to Hani al-Hassan, at the time an adviser to Arafat and a member of the PLO Central Committee, this was done in order to change the rules of the game and shift the blame for the stalled peace process onto Israel.
More recently, the “stabbing intifada” of 2015-2016 was incited by Palestinian leaders misleading their people about supposed Israeli intentions to alter the status quo on the Temple Mount, perhaps the most contentious issue in the entire Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Even before the creation of the State of Israel, the local Arab leader during the British Mandate for Palestine, Amin al-Husseini, provoked violent riots in 1929 and 1936 that took the lives of hundreds of Jews.
But the sheer intentionality of this latest escalation, evident through months of quiet campaigning on social media, has seldom been seen. The hashtag #SaveSheikhJarrah first appeared in February 2021, tweeted by some minor accounts. By March, it had been tweeted countless times by NGO’s, prominent regional media outlets, social movements, and the Palestinian Authority Prime Minister himself. The hashtag and variations of it continued to gain traction in April. Which brings us to today, when #SheikhJarrah, #SavePalestine and #AlAqsaUnderAttack are all trending, despite Israel suffering indiscriminate rocket fire and murderous violence in its capital.
Radical NGO’s like Samidoun – a proxy of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine – have been spreading misinformation for months to rile up the Palestinians. The same group is organizing dozens of events around the world to show solidarity with Palestinian rioters.
The Palestinian Authority, unsurprisingly, has been coaxing a violent outbreak for over a month, since before Ramadan. Tensions were further exacerbated when Israel restricted access to the Damascus Gate of Jerusalem’s Old City, and Arab youths uploaded videos of themselves attacking Jews on TikTok. There is also the distinct, even likely possibility, that PA President Mahmoud Abbas is fomenting the conflict to distract the international community from his cancelling of the Palestinian elections for the umpteenth time in a desperate bid to prevent an ever popular Hamas from wrestling control of the PA from his Fatah party.
Hamas, clearly cognizant of Abbas’s attempt to amass support, has retaliated by promoting its own brand of violence. According to Israeli police, the riots on the Temple Mount are led by Hamas operatives. Unsurprising, considering Palestinians have been waving the terror group’s flags and reciting chants of support since last week. Likewise, on May 10th, Hamas began launching hundreds of rockets into Israel, killing two innocent people thus far.
Make no mistake, this potential third intifada has nothing to do with the legal eviction of overstaying tenants. It is a carefully orchestrated campaign by activists who saw a golden opportunity to cast Israel as an evil aggressor, and by the Palestinian elite who have no qualms about using their people as tools in their power struggle.
The leaders of this campaign know full well they will not be held accountable for their actions, and foolish journalists and public officials will adopt their narrative without hesitation.
Based on what we have seen, their intuition was correct.
So, how will this round of violence end? Will it develop into a full-scale intifada? It’s difficult to say. While Palestinian leaders do not bear sole responsibility for these hostilities, only they can quell the flame. If they are led to believe that this intransigence produces results, things will escalate further. Israel, the international community, and especially the Biden administration, must ensure that no such perception take hold.
Eitan Fischberger is a former Staff Sergeant in the Israeli Air Force currently pursuing his MA at Israel’s Hebrew University of Jerusalem. His writing has appeared in Real Clear Politics, the New York Daily News, and more. Find him on Twitter @EFischberger.DONATE
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