Asked about the recent wave of Palestinian terrorism, US Secretary of State John Kerry declared at Harvard University on October 13 that “you have this violence because there’s a frustration” and that “there’s been a massive increase in settlements over the course of the last years.” In other words, Arabs stab Jews out of frustration caused by the building of settlements by Israel. Kerry is flat wrong on both accounts: the current wave of violence was not caused by Israeli settlements, and there has been no massive increase in settlements over the past years.
That settlements are the cause of terrorism must have been news to Muhanad Alkobi, the Israeli Bedouin who murdered an Israeli soldier on October 18 in the southern Israeli city of Beersheba. Alkobi was himself the resident of an illegal Bedouin settlement in the Negev Desert. According to his friends’ testimonies he had become a devout Muslim and an admirer of the Islamic State, which recently expressed support for the murder of Jews by “the Mujahedin of the Al-Aqsa [Mosque]”. In one of its recently uploaded videos (accompanied by the hashtag #BeheadtheJews), the Islamic State encourages the “Mujahedin of Jerusalem” to “take the path of jihad against the Jews. Strike fear in their hearts, they are the enemies of Allah.”
The Islamic State calls for jihad against the Jews, not against settlements. So do Palestinian preachers and leaders. On October 16, Palestinian preacher Sheikh Khaled Al-Mughrabi declared: “The Children of Israel will be forced to change their plans to build the Temple inside the structure of the Al-Aqsa Mosque and will have to build it outside the Al-Aqsa Mosque… A Temple of heresy to worship the Devil … [At the End of Days] we will follow the Jews everywhere. They will not escape us … The Children of Israel will all be exterminated, the Anti-Christ will be killed and the Muslims will live in comfort for a long time.”
On October 10, Fatah (the party of PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas) praised Is’haq Mresh, the 16 year-old Palestinian who stabbed two Israelis in the Old City of Jerusalem, calling him a “martyr hero” who died for the Al-Aqsa mosque. On October 12, Fatah tweeted a map of all of “Palestine” (not of the West Bank and Gaza) with the words: “My land, to you my love and my heart.” On October 13, Fatah tweeted a picture of four of the Palestinian terrorists who recently killed Israelis with the following praise: “O Martyrs, come in droves!” On October 14, Fatah posted on its Facebook account a doctored picture showing a corpse with a smiling face and the words: “We are a nation of martyrs that die with a smile on their face.” On October 18, Fatah’s Facebook page featured the cartoon of a Palestinian child kicking out a long-nosed and terrified Jew from the Temple Mount with the words: “Leave our country, our land, our sea.”
In all these statements, the murder of Jews is encouraged and death is glorified for the sake of Al-Aqsa and of “Palestine” (not only the West Bank). Settlements are nowhere mentioned.
John Kerry is not only wrong about the underlying cause of Palestinian terrorism, but also about the myth of “massive settlement expansion”.
Ahead of Israel’s 2015 elections, theJerusalem Post published (on March 11, 2015) the actual figures of settlement construction based on data provided by Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics. Here are the facts. Settlement constructions dropped by 52% in 2014 compared to the previous year; 9,216 Jewish homes were built in the West Bank between 2009 and 2014 (an average of 1,536 a year), as opposed to 11,366 between 2003 and 2008 (an average of 1,894 a year), meaning that there has been a 19% decrease in settlement construction under Netanyahu (since 2009). So Netanyahu was correct when he declared at the World Zionist Congress in Jerusalem on October 20 that that there has been less settlement building under his premiership than under that of his predecessors. Indeed, it is no coincidence he has been criticized by settlement mayors for building less than his predecessors.
As the Secretary of State of the United States, John Kerry has responsibilities and duties that include thinking before talking and checking facts. Kerry does neither.