Seven Jews were slaughtered outside of a synagogue following Shabbat prayers in Jerusalem – the heart of the Jewish homeland – on International Holocaust Remembrance Day, January 27, 2023. The very next day, a 13-year-old Palestinian boy shot two more Jews in Jerusalem. The international news media erroneously responded by labeling this a ‘cycle of violence,’ only because it followed an Israeli counter-terrorism operation in the Palestinian city of Jenin.
Rosa Atzilov and her daughter were walking down the street near a Jerusalem synagogue Friday night when “they heard a noise that sounded like fireworks.” Rosa collapsed to the ground before they both realized she was bleeding from gunshot wounds. Her daughter protected her mom with her own body, fearing “this was the end for them.” A Palestinian terrorist advanced towards them, Rosa’s daughter pleading, “Please don’t shoot us.” He responded, “I don’t shoot women.” Another woman then confronted the terrorist and “he just shot her in the head.”
The 21-year-old Palestinian waited outside a synagogue until the Jews praying inside left for the night. First, he murdered an elderly woman and motorcyclist in the street. Then, he purposefully shot and killed congregants walking out onto the street. Shaul Hai was a sexton at a different neighborhood synagogue. Shaul was heading to a Torah lesson at his synagogue when he was fatally wounded
by the terrorist.
A neighborhood barber went to help
the wounded after hearing the gunshots. He stated that the terrorist waited in his car for rescue personnel to arrive, shooting from his car at those who approached the scene.
Eli Mizrahi was one of those responders. The Mizrahi family was enjoying Shabbat dinner when they heard gun shots. Eli jumped to help the wounded
despite his father’s pleas not to go outside. Eli was unknowingly speaking with the terrorist when the gunman killed him, and then shot his wife
, Natali, who worked at the Hadassah Mount Scopus hospital, where she was declared dead.
The youngest victim
was 14-year-old Asher Natan. Another fatality was a Ukrainian citizen working as a caregiver in Israel. Ukrainian President Zelensky stated: “We share Israel’s pain after the terrorist attacks in Jerusalem. Sincere condolences to the victims’ families. The crimes were cynically committed on the Holocaust Remembrance Day.”
The next morning, a 13-year-old Palestinian ambushed and seriously wounded
an Israeli father and son at the City of David entrance in Jerusalem. The 8th grade gunman left a message to his mom in a school notebook
: “God, or victory, or martyrdom. Forgive me, mother, you’re going to be proud of me.” The terrorist studied at an Islamic school using Palestinian textbooks. The Palestinian Authority has a long history of using textbooks that “incite violence, promote the killing of Jewish Israelis, spread overt antisemitic tropes, and glorify jihad and martyrdom.”
Several days prior to the Jerusalem attacks, the Israeli Defense Forces conducted a counter-terrorism operation
against the Iranian-backed Palestinian Islamic Jihad and Hamas terrorist organizations in the Palestinian city of Jenin. The IDF stated that it prevented a “ticking time-bomb,” as the terrorists had primed explosives and firearms for an imminent attack against Israelis. Seven of the 10 Palestinian casualties were confirmed to be terrorists. Palestinian supporters rallied in NY
, honoring the terrorists as “martyrs,” praising Palestinian “resistance” and calling for the destruction of Israel.
Gaza-based terrorists also launched three indiscriminately targeted rockets
towards Israel. One was intercepted by Israel’s defensive Iron Dome system before it could land on a populated area, one fell short in Gaza and the third landed in an open field in Israel.
This synagogue attack was the deadliest Palestinian terrorist attack since a gunman killed eight Israeli students at the Mercaz Harav yeshiva in the capital. The site of this most recent attack was the Ateret Avraham synagogue. It is located in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Neve Ya’akov (Jacob’s oasis) – established in 1924 by American Jews.
1. The ‘cycle of violence’ is a false narrative
There is no ‘cycle of violence’
when one group targets civilians and the other targets terrorists; there is no equivalence. Every time there is a terrorist attack against Israelis, most news media
immediately and incorrectly applies the term, ‘cycle of violence.’ This implies that the twin terrorist attacks in Jerusalem that targeted Jewish civilians were in response to a counter-terrorism action taken by the Israeli Defense Forces. This is a false moral equivalence
under international law. The IDF entered Jenin to prevent an imminent attack against Israeli civilians. The Israeli government – like any government – has the right and responsibility to defend its citizens. Hamas places its missiles in civilian neighborhoods, and is responsible for Palestinian deaths when their own rockets
fall short of their targets in Israel and strike Gaza homes. The term, ‘cycle of violence,’ only serves to perpetuate false assumptions.
2. Palestinian terrorists intentionally target civilians
No civilian anywhere should be a target for violence. The two Palestinian terrorists in the Jerusalem attacks intentionally shot civilians in acts of pre-meditated murder. Their goal: kill as many innocent civilians as possible. This is completely the antithesis of the Israeli Defense Forces
counterterrorism operation in Jenin. The IDF acted to prevent an imminent attack. During the military raid against the Iranian-backed Palestinian Islamic Jihad and Hamas terrorists – insidiously embedded in a civilian neighborhood – civilians unfortunately also died. The loss of any civilian life is tragic. But there is a legal and moral difference
between a military acting against terrorist infrastructure purposely embedded in a civilian neighborhood
and terrorists who deliberately attack Israeli civilian neighborhoods. Israel aims to protect all civilian lives
; Palestinian terrorists consistently murder civilians – Israeli and Palestinian
3. There is a direct link from incitement to terrorism
What motivates a 13-year-old boy to heinously seek to kill civilians? Palestinian culture is filled with disinformation, myths and outright anti-Jewish propaganda in textbooks
, on children’s TV programming
and in newspapers
. The incitement filters down from the Palestinian Authority leadership
and is reinforced with financial incentives for killing Israelis. The “Pay for Slay” program
incentivizes terrorism by providing cash rewards on a sliding scale, favoring Israeli deaths over injuries, and based on the total number killed. If terrorists die in an attack, the reward is paid out to their families. All supporters of peace must advocate for Palestinian education reform.
4. Palestinian terrorists target Jews and Israelis everywhere
Palestinian terrorist organizations and their allies do not differentiate between certain areas of Jerusalem; Tel Aviv from Ariel (the largest Israeli city in Judea and Samaria, or West Bank); or civilians from soldiers. Jerusalem is the historical capital of the Jewish people – home to Judaism’s holiest sites. To these terrorist organizations, Israeli civilians are fair targets wherever they live. Palestinian terrorist groups view all of Israel as one large ‘settlement,’ and are eager to replace it with an Islamist state without any Jews. This is the definition of genocide and ethnic cleansing. Iran, and the terrorist organizations
Hamas and Hezbollah, that it funds and supports, are committed to wiping Israel from the face of the earth
ACTIONS TO CONSIDER
A. Become an influencer
In an age of increasing misinformation and disinformation, use the facts in the background and talking points to help combat the pervasive anti-Israel narrative
. Whether you are talking with family, friends or coworkers, or posting on social media
, help reach and teach someone who does not have a full understanding of the issues vital to the Jewish community.
B. Write a letter to the editor of a newspaper
When you read an online or print article that uses the term ‘cycle of violence’ or similar language, to paint a false view of current events in Israel, please consider submitting a letter to the editor
. While there are media watchdog organizations that provide writing samples, it is best practice to use this as a basis for writing an original response, using clear, concise and respectful language to convey your message.
C. Write a letter to the United Nations secretary general
While the UN continues to display a clear anti-Israel bias, Jewish non-governmental organizations persist in fighting against false narratives presented by Israel's enemies. You can make a difference by directing your messages
to the office of the UN Secretary General emphasizing the need for UN condemnation of the targeting of Jews in Jerusalem without equivocation, and certainly without equating these attacks with IDF counterterrorism measures, or the phony ‘cycle of violence.’ Request that the UN Human Rights Council urgently hold a special hearing on the purposeful targeting of civilians – a war crime.
The Focus Project is a joint initiative of a broad coalition of U.S. Jewish organizations working together to combat antisemitism and anti-Zionism in America.