Over the last few weeks an Israeli soldier was stabbed in the torso near the settlement of Nachliel by a 15-year old Palestinian girl while he was standing by a pillbox guard tower, and the security forces announced the arrest of two Palestinians for the June 24, 2015 murder of 70-year-old farmer David Bar Kafra of Rehovot, who was killed while tending his vineyard in Moshav Pedaya. He was taken to the hospital in critical condition where he later died from his wounds.
Most likely these attacks will be attributed to "lone wolves"—persons not acting on specific orders from any particular Palestinian terrorist organization but who are compelled by some other motivation to commit murder. These lone wolf attacks increased during Ramadan, including the stabbings of a female soldier near Bethlehem and a yeshiva student at the Damascus Gate in the Old City of Jerusalem, a drive-by shooting in the Shomron that left one dead and three wounded, a shooting near Dolev that left one dead and a driving "accident" in Jerusalem that left one Israeli dead and another seriously wounded.
The attacks have rekindled discussion about whether they should be ascribed to the ongoing incitement against Israelis and Jews in the Palestinian media, school system and speeches by Palestinian Authority (PA) officials.
Criticizing the PA for not distancing itself from these attacks, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in late June: "The fact that up until now, the Palestinian Authority has not condemned these attacks needs to bother not only us, but also the international community as a whole. Those who do not take an unequivocal stand against terrorism cannot wash their hands."
A few days later, Minister of Defense Moshe "Bogie" Ya'alon charged the Palestinian Authority with responsibility for the wave of attacks because of the incitement that has been carried on official PA radio and television.
The PA's responsibility to stop incitement and hostile propaganda goes back to the very early days of the “Peace Process” and has been recognized from the outset as essential to the achievement of any peaceful resolution of the Israel-Palestinian conflict.
The 1995 Israeli-Palestinian Interim Agreement stipulates that “Israel and the [Palestinian] Council…shall abstain from incitement, including hostile propaganda, against each other and…shall take legal measures to prevent such incitement by any organizations, groups or individuals within their jurisdiction…Israel and the [Palestinian] Council will ensure that their respective educations systems contribute to the peace between the Israeli and Palestinian peoples and to peace in the entire region, and will refrain from the introduction of any motifs that could adversely affect the process of reconciliation.”
In annexes to the agreement, both sides committed to “act with respect for the values and human dignity of the other side” to focus their educational cooperation on “other ways of promoting better mutual understanding of their respective cultures” to “cooperate in enhancing dialogue and relations between their peoples.”
Since incitement—and terrorism—continued unabated in the PA despite these undertakings, the Wye River Memorandum of Oct. 23, 1998 included a provision under which the Palestinian side agreed to issue a decree prohibiting all forms of incitement to violence or terror and an agreement to establish a joint U.S.-Palestinian-Israeli committee to monitor cases of incitement to violence or terror and to make recommendations on how to prevent it. With little—but continuous arguments—to show for its work, the committee disbanded after about a year.
The Quartet’s “Roadmap to a Permanent Solution to the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict" of 2003 specifically required that both sides end all incitement against the other by official institutions. U.N. Security Council Resolution 1515 that endorsed the Roadmap reiterated the demand for an immediate cessation of all acts of violence, including all acts of terrorism, provocation, incitement and destruction.
Unfortunately, all these bilateral and international instruments have remained a dead letter as incitement continues in the PA unabated, coming in many different—some seemingly innocuous—forms.
One of the bluntest forms of incitement to violence is hero worship of terrorists. In the course of June and July alone, PA television carried the expressions of joy by a Palestinian mother at the martyrdom-death of her son; a killer of 67 Israeli civilians was honored by independent Ma'an TV; A PA-Fatah summer camp for kids, featured on various Palestinian news outlets, showed army-uniform clad kids brandishing AK-47 automatic weapons indoctrinated with slogans such as "What was taken by force, can only be restored by force," and youth football (soccer) teams were named for terrorists.
Another form of incitement is anti-Semitism, such as a PA TV program that carried a young girl reciting a poem calling Jews "barbaric monkeys," "the most evil among creations," and those "who murdered Allah's pious prophets." Jews are said to be "throngs... brought up on spilling blood... impure... [and] filth;" or a preacher at Jerusalem's Al-Aqsa Mosque who told the crowd assembled that "[Jews] prepare their matzah... with the blood of children...They were burned in Germany because they kidnapped young children" to make matzah. (Compiled from Palestinian Media Watch).
Numerous cartoons in the Palestinian media also encourage terrorism. Another method that contributes to encouraging terrorism is the ongoing monthly payment--totaling an estimated $3-7 million annually from the PA budget—as salaries and other financial rewards to terrorists and their families.
Since taking office again in 2009, Netanyahu restored Palestinian incitement as a government priority, charging the Ministry of Strategic Affirms with maintaining an "incitement index" and raising the issue publicly and in official meetings. The last serious attempt to approach this issue was in February 2014 when the Israeli government rejected a Palestinian-American initiative to convene a tripartite committee to address incitement and education toward peace both in Israel and the Palestinian Authority.
Then Strategic Affairs Minister Yuval Steinitz made it clear to the American mediators that a condition for participating in such a committee would be a Palestinian confidence-building measure, like deleting provocative content from official PA websites. Steinitz argued that setting up such a committee would just allow the Palestinians to avoid dealing with the issue themselves on the grounds that there was a committee handling it.
A new, welcome, resolution (H.R. 293) titled "Expressing concern over anti-Israel and anti-Semitic incitement within the Palestinian Authority" submitted on June 3 to the U.S. House of Representatives by Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) reiterates strong condemnation of anti-Israel and anti-Semitic incitement in the Palestinian Authority as antithetical to the cause of peace.
The resolution—after going through a long litany of examples of Palestinian incitement of the worst kind—also urges PA President Mahmud Abbas and Palestinian Authority officials to discontinue all official incitement and exert influence to discourage anti-Israel and anti-Semitic incitement in Palestinian civil society; and directs the State Department "to regularly monitor and publish information on all official incitement by the Palestinian Authority against Jews and the State of Israel."
With the Palestinian Authority now recognized as a state by the United Nations and by many individual states—including, most recently, the Vatican—it is high time to make it live up to its responsibility to curb deadly incitement. A good first step would be to throw support behind H.R. 293 and then keep Abba's feet to the fire by reporting every infraction to be included in the State Department's report.
Alan Schneider is the director of B’nai B’rith World Center in Jerusalem, which serves as the hub of B'nai B'rith International activities in Israel. The World Center is the key link between Israel and B'nai B'rith members and supporters around the world. To view some of his additional content, Click Here.
If you were retired and living in an apartment community, would you want to live in a building totally isolated from your neighbors, or would you want to live in a vibrant community with a wide variety of programs and activities? Wouldn’t you want to live where you and your neighbors get to know one another, and are able to provide one another with mutual support through the good times and bad?
Luckily, in the B’nai B’rith Senior Housing network, a dedicated group of resident volunteers makes sure it is the latter, through their individual buildings’ “Residents Council” or “Association.”
The membership of each Residents Council is comprised of all the residents in that particular building. According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the Council is the voice in the community, and acts a liaison between management and the residents, as well as between the residents and the general neighborhood. Another significant role for every Council is to create programming and activities for the tenants. The Councils develop and carry out programs which they feel will improve the social and economic status of their residents.
Moreover, the Council truly enhances the “quality of life” in their respective housing developments, creating a sense of community, shared responsibility and inspiring residents to have a feeling of civic pride in their homes. A key part of this is involving all members in the planning and execution of activities, whether it is an ice cream social or a senior prom.
Senior housing communities that have a well functioning Residents Council, besides just benefiting the residents, also will have benefits for management. Working together on solving community problems allows management to have a better, more satisfying relationship with their tenants, creating a sense of respect instead of mutual distrust. Management can work with the Council to combat problems that affect all residents, such as residents propping open outside doors, people not cleaning up after their dogs, or any other issues that can impact people living in such close proximity in congregate housing. Although not required, HUD is very supportive of each Residents Council in all HUD subsidized buildings.
Recognizing how important these associations are for the tenants, Mark Olshan, Ph.D., director of the B’nai B’rith Center for Senior Services, created a program almost 30 years ago to provide training for these resident leaders of the B’nai B’rith buildings. The first Resident Leadership Retreat took place over three days. Over time, staff realized that it was such a wonderful opportunity, and with so much to learn, the retreat was eventually expanded to six days.
Scenes from previous Resident Leadership Retreats.
The retreat takes place every other summer at B’nai B’rith Perlman Camp, located in the scenic mountains of northeastern Pennsylvania, and is open to two residents from each of our U.S. and Canadian housing communities. One of the best parts of the program is that the retreat takes place while the young campers are still there.
The retreat features a variety of workshops conducted by staff from the B’nai B’rith Center for Senior Services including: how to run a tenants’ association, how to plan activities and programs for their fellow residents, how to recruit and retain volunteers, how to write newsletters and ideas to celebrate the diversity in our buildings. Sessions also provide icebreakers encouraging participants to network and learn from one another. A highlight of the camp experience is the opportunities for intergenerational activities with the elementary through high school population at camp. These programs include Israeli dancing and singing lessons, Shabbat services and various social events.
But that’s not all. The program is designed to be a memorable experience not just for the seniors who attend, but to be a benefit to all of the residents of our housing communities. Each participant is given the opportunity to learn skills so that when they go back to their buildings, they are able to make a difference in the lives of their fellow residents with a strong Residents Association.
In early August, 36 residents will be attending the next Resident Leadership Retreat. Hear from residents who took part in the 2013 retreat:
Janel Doughten is the associate director of the B’nai B’rith International Center for Senior Services, focusing on the subsidized senior housing program. She has been with B’nai B’rith for 23 years, and looks forward to leading the 15th Resident Leadership Retreat later this year. To view some of her additional content, Click Here.
B'nai B'rith International has widely respected experts in the fields of: