A massive fire engulfed the outskirts of Jerusalem recently. The fire was seen all around the capital, even as far as Ariel in the north. But I want to talk about one of the responses to the fire, a tweet by Jamal Zahalka, the former head of BALAD, an Arab pan Arabist party, who served as member of the Knesset for 16 years. Zahalka tweeted: “what is the connection between the forest fires and Zionism? The importing of European forests and the planting of flammable trees, and the colonial race to establish facts on the ground (“another tree”) had increased the risk of fires. The persecution of the local black goat and its owners for decades had only caused harm. The goat ate the forests plants and kept a balance that prevented fires.”
Put aside the fact that for the past years Palestinian arson has been the leading cause of forest fires, and that the fire outside Jerusalem has also been cited as arson, having started in two locations at the same time. I would like to focus on Zahalka’s tweet, because without intention, Zahalka summed up the Palestinian ethos: preserve what is older than you and destroy anything others built. Palestinian history is filled with such examples.
In the past three years alone, there have been more than 10,000 cases of Palestinian acts of arson. In Gaza, the Palestinians have developed “fire kites” which carry a flaming payload and send them on to nearby Israeli fields. The “flying fires” which started in 2018 have become an almost daily experience for Israelis in the south. In the first three months of these arsons (March 2018 to June 2018) more than 30,000 acres of conserved land have been burned, and a total of 270 fires burned about 250 thousand acres of farmland.
In the West Bank, in 2020, there have been at least 2,451 cases of rocks thrown at Israeli cars by Palestinians, and 469 cases of Molotov cocktails replacing the stones. Many arsons by Palestinians were also recorded, with 6,400 cases by Palestinians in 2020. Since the start of 2021 there have already been more than 6,000 cases of arson which suggests the problem is only getting worse.
But it is not just fields that extremist Palestinians destroy, its everything they touch. Such is the sad case of UNRWA: it is one of two UN relief agencies for refugees, and it is exclusive to Palestinians. It has more workers per refugee than UNHCR, numbering 30,000 workers for 5 million refugees to the UNHCR’s 10,000 for 60 million refugees globally, an utter absurdity.
The agency’s definition of refugee is also dubious: according to UNRWA 50 per cent of all Palestinians living in the West Bank are refugees, and 71 per cent of those living in Gaza are considered refugees. Its workers have been caught teaching children with materials with antisemitic content and have been found aiding terrorists. Its facilities in Gaza have been used to store and fire rockets into Israel in every military operation since 2005.
The people living in the camps live in the sense that it is temporary and soon they will return home. Palestinian leadership is also strict in this line, demanding the “right of return” in all negotiations with Israel. It basically means that in any deal, thousands of families will move from Palestinian territories or Arab countries into Israel proper (what is known as “the green line”) and resettle in its major cities. Palestinian children are taught in schools that one day they will return home – not to Ramallah or Gaza, but to Haifa, Jaffa, and Tel-Aviv, which Palestinians call Al-Shaykh Muwannis. Imagine that in negotiations with France, the British would demand the return of Englishmen to Brittany. It is absurd.
The habit of destruction has not only harmed Israelis, but Arabs too. No one knew that better than King Hussein of Jordan: in 1970 he harbored the PLO, the “Palestinian Liberation Organization” in Jordan, only for a state within a state to develop in his capital. It came to a climax in September that year, when the PLO tried to de-throne the king, and managed to assassinate his prime minister. Hussein forced them out of Jordan, and the PLO came to Lebanon, where much of the same thing happened. Southern Lebanon became ” Fatah-land” and the already messy country of Lebanon was thrown into chaos. In 1983 Israel deported the PLO to Tunisia, where the process resumed once again.
Since Oslo, the Israelis have come to know that many Palestinians have the tendency to destroy, as the latest innovation struck – suicide bombings. These extremist Palestinians have perfected the art of suicide bombing and turned it into a devastating weapon. In the second intifada, in what would come to be known as “black March” there would be a terrorist attack every day, with a third of them being suicide bombings. In 2002 a record was set – 47 suicide bombings. All in all, since 1972 there have been 151 suicide terrorist attacks on Israel.
In 2001 another facet of Palestinian ingenuity was brutally revealed: Gaza became a hub for launching rockets at Israel. They started as tin-cans put together and became an entire industry, that in 2001 could get as far as the town of Sderot, and in 2014 could get all the way to Jordan. From 2001 there have been more than 20,000 rockets fired at Israel from Gaza. An entire generation of children in Israel has grown up looking for shelter, wherever they go.
All of this is coupled with the absolute refusal of Palestinians to except any peace deal. A total of six times Israel has offered peace and received war. Most famously were the Oslo accords which only intensified the scale of terrorism, the Camp David talks in 2000 and the talks between then PM Olmert and President Abbas in 2008. In 2000 PM Ehud Barak offered 92 per cent of the West Bank, and near full control of all holy sites in Jerusalem, only to be refused. Later came war. Olmert went even further: offering 98 per cent of the land, a shared management of the holy sites and the taking in of 15,000 refugee families but to no response. In fact, in his autobiography Olmert says, “I’m still waiting for an answer from Abbas”.
In all their short history, Palestinian “leaders” have contributed very little to humanity. What skills they have they invest in destroying what others built. They receive incredible amounts of aid from the world only to invest it in terrorism. They leach off others and any wise country would be best to stay away from them as much as possible.