“It doesn’t change my entire view on Israel,” Gerald Hetzel, a German tourist, told Israeli media about the attack on him and a companion by Arabs in Shechem. “I think Israel is a very friendly country. [But] it definitely changes my view on the Palestinians and the Palestinian Authority areas in Judea and Samaria, [where teenagers] told me if they meet a Jew on the street, they want to kill him… I think it’s a big problem [that] they have so much hate in their education.”
The attack took place on March 18, when Mr. Hetzel and his companion, driving a rental car with Israeli license plates, entered Shechem. The car was surrounded by an angry mob whose members, screaming in Arabic, threw large stones and street signs at the vehicle and slashed its tires. Mr. Hetzel’s companion was threatened with a knife.
Palestinian Authority police arrived and directed the pair to return to their car, but, with its tires slashed, it wasn’t going anywhere. The Germans managed to escape the mob with the help of an Israeli Arab who led them on foot to safety.
Shortly after the attack, Germany’s ambassador to Israel, Steffen Seibert, tweeted that “a mob attacking tourists because they don‘t like their license plate is disgusting and cowardly,” and thanked “the Palestinian Israeli citizen who saved [the German citizens] from the bottom of my heart.”
The diplomat’s tweet, however, brought a further onslaught of wild anger, this expressed, if not in ugly actions, in ugly words, mostly rants about Israeli “extrajudicial killings”—apparently referring to how, when Israeli soldiers seeking to arrest known terrorists come under gunfire, they return it with effective results.
Seeking to reassure the ranters that he was suitably Palestinian-friendly, the ambassador returned to Twitter. “To the critics of my [earlier] tweet,” he wrote, “we know the pain of Palestinians. We support their peaceful aspirations towards a state…”
His reassurance only generated more anti-Israeli squawks. And so it goes.
Mr. Seibert seems like a fine fellow. A former television journalist, he served as government spokesman under Chancellor Angela Merkel from 2010 to 2021 and, after presenting his credentials to Israeli President Isaac Herzog in Yerushalayim last year, declared: “The friendship between Israel and Germany is a treasure, and I am honored to work to strengthen it.”
But I have an issue with his post-attack tweet. I won’t rant—I’ll leave that to those who excuse unprovoked violence against innocent people. But I was bothered by what Mr. Seibert posted.
What was “disgusting and cowardly” about the mob’s attack on the German citizens wasn’t, as the ambassador wrote, that it resulted from the rioters not liking the victims’ “license plate.” It was because they hate Jews.
Because the attackers assumed that the car’s occupants were Jews, they considered them deserving of death, in complete consonance with the sentiment of the aforementioned teens Mr. Hetzel had earlier met, and, tragically, of all too many Palestinians.
It is a truism, if one oft-ignored, that such mad hatred decisively informs—infects would be the better word—the “Palestinian issue.” Fundamental to bringing two parties to peace is each side’s willingness to acknowledge the right of the other to live. When one side persists in considering the other one unworthy of life, well, that other’s “making peace” is more accurately described as “committing suicide.”
And people wonder why the long-longed-for “two-state solution” has effectively been consigned to wherever nice but quixotic ideas go to die.
And what maintains its moribundity is the malevolent “chinuch” that countless Palestinian children receive from their parents and teachers. And the terror-glorifying content in Palestinian school textbooks, which UNRWA, the UN agency for Palestinian affairs, has repeatedly pledged, and repeatedly failed, to have removed.
Among the copious examples of some UNRWA employees’ mindset cited in a recent report by the Institute for Monitoring Peace and Cultural Tolerance in School Education (IMPACT-se), is one worker’s social media posting depicting a sleeping Adolf Hitler and calling on him to wake up because “there are still some people you need to burn.”
As Mr. Hetzel understatedly put it, “a big problem” indeed.
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