I live 15 minutes from where a Palestinian gunman opened fire on Israeli civilians in Tel Aviv on Thursday evening, killing three and wounding several others. But that doesn’t make me special. We are a tiny country and so all Israelis live close to terror.
We learned a lot from that, one of which is that terrorism works to a certain extent – it’s scary and you have to accept that and try to get on with life. I have sometimes told people that Israel is the greatest country in the world when things are going well; if it’s bad, well, it’s hard. We are in a difficult phase right now. The best we can do is put our trust in the security services, be alert and try not to jump up every time we hear a loud bang or what sounds like an air raid or police siren.
Why we are in a difficult moment is a harder question. Certainly the arrival of Ramadan inherently brings heightened tensions. But with more than a dozen Israelis killed in terrorist attacks in recent weeks, the situation feels more serious than usual. Something else is going on. Let’s hope it’s something that can be contained.
There are probably three main reasons for the current wave of violence.
First, ironically, it may have been caused by peace. The Abraham Accords and growing official and unofficial acceptance of Israel by many Arab states have undoubtedly changed the face of the region. But they’re definitely not for everyone. There are powerful forces – not the least of which is Iran – that do not want to see Israel accepted because it would mean that Israel is permanent. And they don’t want the Arab nations to cooperate with Israel because they see it as treason.
Unleashing a wave of violence, even disorganized and spontaneous, is one way to keep tensions high, register discontent, and put Israel’s new Arab allies in a difficult position should Israel be forced to retaliate.
Second, there is the Palestinians’ desire to somehow get themselves back into the game. A neighbor of mine recently told me that because of the Abraham Accords, “the Palestinians understand that they are becoming irrelevant.” This probably had the opposite effect of what he intended, because my first thought was that the Palestinians were very unlikely to allow themselves to become irrelevant without a fight.
While this wave of terror appears loosely organized at best, it seems driven by a desire to push the anti-Israel cause back to the front of the line and assert relevance through barbarism.
Third, there is the dilemma of current political impasse. A few months ago, a former senior Israeli security official said that today’s Palestinian youth represent a “lost generation” and warned that this could have unfortunate consequences. He’s not wrong. The Palestinians have little or no political horizon at the moment. The peace process has been frozen for years and the Israeli government – which may be on the verge of collapse – is too weak to take any significant action on the issue. The “status quo” shows no signs of changing anytime soon.
Much of this, ironically, is the Palestinians’ own fault. If they had accepted Ehud Barak’s peace offer in 2000, they would have had a state for 22 years. Instead, they chose a campaign of terrorist atrocities that mortally wounded the peace process.
Two decades of low-intensity conflict, rocket fire and periodic chaos have not changed that. Today’s Israelis are even less likely, if ever, to give up their shallow strategic depth in hopes of peace with an enemy they don’t trust. Still, in the face of such an impasse, an outburst of nihilistic violence, while morally reprehensible, is not necessarily surprising.
How long this outbreak will last and how bad it could get is unknown at this time – let’s hope it doesn’t get much worse or much longer. But I’m not sorry that I’m going to the United States for an extended vacation two days after the last attack, and I’m wondering if I should really allow my mother to visit me in Tel Aviv at the end of the month. It’s a tough moment right now.
Benjamin Kerstein is Israel correspondent for The Algemeiner. He lives in Tel Aviv.
https://nypost.com/2022/04/10/what-set-off-the-explosive-terror-in-israel/ What sparked the explosive terror in Israel