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Rabbi's Blog

rabbi 05 smallsf badge lgRabbi Joel Landau  ( has been the Rabbi of Adath Israel since May 2013. He was ordained by the Chief Rabbinate in Jerusalem and has served previously as a congregational Rabbi in Charleston, South Carolina and Irvine, California. A full biography of Rabbi Landau is available here.

This past Sunday, I travelled to Israel with my wife Johni and youngest daughter Tehela (we have six children). My father-in-law is celebrating his eightieth birthday and most of the family is coming together for the simcha. Unfortunately, our family’s joy has been marred by a wave of terror.                           

Since the beginning of October until today, Wednesday October 14th,life in Israel has been quite frightening. Seven Jews have been murdered and ninety two have been wounded. The perpetrators have mainly been young Arab men and women from east Jerusalem. The youngest attacker was fifteen years old! Their primary weapon of choice has been a knife.

Though there have been protest marches in the West Bank, the number of participants has been relatively small. The general Palestinian public outcry is dwarfed compared to the rate at which east Jerusalem youths are joining the circle of terrorism and violence, without planning or organization, utilizing social media as the main catalyst.

The following is a synopsis I’ve compiled of several articles from the Israeli press that will provide you with a better understanding of what is going on.

The New Generation- This generation of Palestinian youth has been named the “children of Oslo” by Palestinian society. They were born after the Oslo agreements of 1993 and after the establishment of the Palestinian Authority. They have heard about the old model of the Israeli occupation, but don’t really know what it means. The Palestinian Authority, from their perspective, has been the government since before they were born, yet they view it with open contempt and suspicion.

Distrust of the Media and Government- Many have been referring to this wave of violence as the “Al-Quds Intifada” — the Jerusalem uprising. One reason for this is that Palestinian and Israeli Muslim groups have been peddling false allegations about nefarious Israeli plans for Al-Aqsa. This has resulted in a mass hysteria in the Arab world that Israel is going to change the current status quo on the Temple mount. Nothing could be farther from the truth.

However, in addition to the religious dimension, many problems stem from the ongoing neglect of Palestinian neighborhoods of east Jerusalem by Israeli governments over the years. This is especially true regarding the communities that are located outside the security barrier. Since the construction of the security barrier, entire neighborhoods and villages, whose residents have blue ID cards and are citizens of Israel, are not given any attention by either Israel or the Palestinian Authority. The economic situation of the residents of these areas is dire and they live in a state of lawlessness.

The Result- As a result, east Jerusalem’s Palestinian youth belong to a new generation which despises political or any other type of authority and deeply suspects the accuracy of reports from mainstream media. They mainly rely on their own sources of information that are disseminated through social media.  

For example, less than 48 hours before he boarded a Jerusalem bus Tuesday morning and opened fire on its passengers, killing two, Bahaa Allyan was busy castigating mainstream media on his Facebook page.

Israa Ja’abees, a fellow resident of the neighborhood of Jabel Mukabber,, was badly wounded in an explosion when she tried to detonate gas canisters in her car en route to Jerusalem. The alertness of an Israeli policeman who stopped the car for inspection prevented a massive terror attack in the capital, Israeli media reported. A police statement claims that the woman yelled “Allahu Akbar” (G-d is most great) and set off the explosive detonator in her car..

But on Allyan’s Facebook page, filled with posts utterly hostile to Israel and derisive of the Palestinian Authority, the story was dramatically different. He had been in touch with Ja’abees’s family who allegedly told him that her car had malfunctioned on the way to Hebrew University. The Israeli forces, they said, mistook an electric short for a terror attack and opened fire, “killing her in cold blood.”

“I am posting news on my [Facebook] page due to the absence of real media, and also to refute Hebrew media which some consider credible but is certainly not,” wrote Allyan, who was 22. “Without real media our truth will be lost.”

It was not only in official media that Allyan felt he had no voice. Palestinian leadership, be it local or national, had failed the people, he emphatically argued.

“Let the Palestinian Authority know that a ceasefire [with Israel] is in the hands of the people, not in the hands of any of its rulers,” he wrote on Saturday. The following day, he added: “The reassuring thing is that the leaders are out of the equation. The opportunists and those who love to appear on television will soon be marginalized.”

The significance of the above is that Israel is confronting a radically new reality when it comes to the type of adversary they have to deal with and their modus opperendi. Therefore, Israel must develop creative and innovative methods to successfully engage the Palestinian youths of today in order to pave the way for peace tomorrow.

But what can we do now to make a difference? Each of us in our own way can take part in addressing this conflict. Whether that means sharing articles about what is going on now in the Middle East, finding a small act of kindness that we can do for others each day, or making a donation to a worthy cause. You can make a donation to the American Friends of Magen David Adom to help Magen David Adom continue their live saving work in Israel. In doing so, know that you are taking part in ending this conflict, even if you're all the way in San Francisco.  

Thank G-d, so far today (its 3:30pm) there have been no new attacks.