Wednesday, July 2, 2014

There is no ‘cycle of violence’

Gerald M. Steinberg  July 1st  2014

Three Israeli teenagers, Naftali Fraenkel, Gil-ad Shaar and Eyal Yifrach, were kidnapped and murdered in cold blood on their way home from school only because they were Israeli Jews. Their Palestinian Arab murderers, as identified by Israel, did not know their victims and they did not care. The objective was to attack some hated Israelis, and perhaps exchange them or their bodies for jailed murderers. Any random Jews would do.
So it has been for some 100 years in this long war against Jewish national sovereignty and equality among the nations. Long before the 1967 war and the “occupation” provided an excuse for hate and murder, such acts of inhuman violence were common. In 1929, when the Jewish community of Hebron was massacred (ethnically cleansed in modern parlance), there was no cycle of violence — this was an entirely unilateral act.
In November 1947, when all Arab leaders rejected the minimalist UN Partition Plan and launched a wave of mass terror against the Jewish community, there was no cycle. And the 1967 war, which led to the subsequent “occupation,” was triggered by Nasser’s renewed effort to destroy the Jewish state, and not part of an action-reaction cycle.
Similarly, today, there is no “cycle of revenge,” as many journalists, diplomats and self-proclaimed human rights activists often claim. A cycle means symmetry, automatic tit-for-tat, mindless action and reaction, in which all sides, and none, can be held morally responsible.
But attack and defense, terror and counter-terror, incitement and fear are not symmetric or morally equivalent. When diplomats and academics repeat the “cycle” analogy, and meekly issues calls “to both parties to exercise restraint,” as the European Union, the UN and even the US did after the kidnapping, they are endorsing a dangerous fiction. When journalists invent an artificial balance and an immoral equivalence between attacker and victim, or an NGO with European and US taxpayer funds equates the mother of a Palestinian terrorist with the mothers of Gilad, Naftali, and Eyal, this is fundamentally immoral.
For years, Palestinians and their supporters have been able to peddle the fiction that murderous terrorists in Israeli jails are political prisoners, guilty only of participating in the “cycle of violence,” including opposing the “occupation,” albeit with violent means. European human rights funds have also channeled government money to lobbying groups (non-governmental organizations) to promote this fiction and the public campaigns on their behalf.


  1. While I share your sadness about these three boys to me it seems ridiculous to portray Israel as totally innocent and this story as so sided. Is the occupation in itself not structurally violent ? In the search for these boys 6 Palestinians have been killed is this not violent? By denying this cycle of violence and advocating that this story is so one sided you are undermining any chance for mutual understanding and peace and perpetuating the cycle of violence. This makes me very sad.

    1. It appears obvious that you have not read the Hamas Charter, see link
      It clearly states its aim is to get rid of the state of Israel. The Fatah Charter has never been changed and has the same objective even though Arafat promised to remove the clauses relating to Israel's elimination. When you have read all the International agreements with Israel and the Arabs around us then we can enter into a serious debate.Meantime your comments make me very sad.