December 16, 2018

The One-Second Intifada

There are different kinds of fears. Some fears are specific–you might stumble into a dangerous neighborhood or receive a bad diagnosis from a doctor. Remove the circumstance, and the fear goes away. 

Other fears are more generalized and random. They hover. You never know when something bad might happen. Violence might strike you anywhere, anytime. 

The shooting attack in Tel Aviv today that left two people dead and several seriously wounded is an example of the latter fear—you never know when violence will strike. Every person is a potential assailant; every car a potential weapon.

On my recent visit to Jerusalem, I found myself constantly watching my back. I noticed other pedestrians were watching me, too.

This is the fruit of what has been called the “knife intifada,” the latest version of the Arab war against the Jews. After failing to crush Israel with regular armies, suicide bombers, rockets, tunnels and the like, Israel’s enemy is now resorting to a more primitive tactic: Strike ordinary people anywhere, anytime with crude weapons, like a knife or a gun or a car.

The terrorists are turning the country’s vibrant street life—open to all peoples and all religions— into the new battlefield. In this latest war, the choice targets are pedestrians. 

There is no Iron Dome that can stop a knife that pops out of a terrorist’s hand at any second, and no roadblock that can stop a car that barrels into pedestrians at any second.

This is the One-Second Intifada, and, in an open society, good luck trying to stop it.

The Jew-hatred behind this terror runs deep. I was in Jerusalem to participate in a leadership dialogue with political figures from Australia and the U.K., organized by my friend Albert Dadon. One morning, we were presented numerous examples of this Jew-hatred by Itamar Marcus, founder of Palestinian Media Watch, who showed us how the Palestinian Authority is behind much of the incitement and glorification of terrorists that fires up the masses.

Later that day, a select number of politicians from our group confronted Palestinian leaders in Ramallah with this incriminating evidence. Want to guess their answer? They denied it all and blamed Israel for everything. Sound familiar?  

The notion that relinquishing the West Bank would end all this Jew-hatred is delusional. The only thing that can end Jew-hatred is to stop the preaching of it– and replace it with the teaching of peace. As long as hatred and terror continues, even the most peace-loving Israeli will remain wary of turning the West Bank into another Gaza. 

Israel’s celebrated resiliency, which has overcome so many threats in the past, is being severely tested by this new intifada. As resilient and tough as they are, Israelis understand that this new wave of terror is threatening a treasured aspect of Israeli society—its extraordinary street life. Take that away, and you rip out Israel’s heart.

Israel’s enemies seem to get this. These random acts of violence born of hatred don’t come with grievances or demands. As they stab innocent people or shoot at café tables or ram their cars into children, the attackers are not agitating for a higher minimum wage or better health care. They’re aiming to rip out the heart of a society that loves life.

“The aggressors of the future are likely to be the nations in which life is cheap,” Walter Lippmann wrote in The New Republic in 1914. He could easily have been referring to modern-day terrorists who have given up on life and who terrorize societies that celebrate it.

On my last night in Jerusalem, my friend Yossi Klein Halevi and I were walking through the new Teddy Kollek park, named for the legendary former mayor, on our way to a restaurant in an arts district. A dramatic fountain and light show was accompanied by the majestic sound of an orchestra playing Mizrachi music. It was a beautiful moment—but hardly anyone else was there.

Earlier that day, a cab driver had told me that ,in 30 years, his business had never been worse. Now, because of the random car attacks, he won’t even let his kids play outside anymore.

“I’m Arab,” he told me. “I’m afraid, too.”

David Suissa is president of TRIBE Media Corp./Jewish Journal and can be reached at