On January 26, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon made the bold assertion that terrorism against Israelis is “human nature.”
According to Ban, “Stabbings, vehicle attacks, and shootings by Palestinians targeting Israeli civilians have continued to claim lives . . . Yet, as oppressed peoples have demonstrated throughout the ages, it is human nature to react to occupation, which often serves as a potent incubator of hate and extremism.”
But despite his sweeping conclusions about history and human nature, Ban did not present any evidence or examples to support his dramatic statement about the underlying causes of terror.
In a recent New York Times opinion piece, Ban Ki-moon doubled down on his unsupported analysis of history and psychology, stating that while he condemns all violence,
“No one can deny that the everyday reality of occupation provokes anger and despair, which are major drivers of violence and extremism.”
Once again, Ban presented no evidence as to the drivers of violence and extremism. So let’s do what the Secretary-General did not, and actually examine history, facts and human nature.
Question: Is violence against civilians really a natural response to territorial disputes throughout the ages?
Oxford University Press recently published a thorough academic study of more than 2,000 militarized, territorial disputes around the world from 1816 to 1996. The analysis demonstrated that only 17% of militarized territorial disputes escalated into war within one year, and only 30% escalated into war within five years. In other words, humans usually do NOT respond to territorial disputes with violence. That’s not an opinion, that’s just history.
Question: Does Ban Ki-moon actually believe that terrorism (against people other than Israelis) is “human nature?”
A UN Secretary-General has to deal with a lot. For example, right now 190 different countries are engaged in territorial disputes. Further, according to the Armed Conflict Database, there are 42 violent conflicts raging around the world (as of 2015), and in the year 2014 alone, these conflicts produced 12,181,000 refugees and 180,000 fatalities.
Yet in over seven years as UN Secretary-General, we have not been able to find even one example of Ban Ki-moon referring to any of these deaths as “natural” or “human nature,” except for the murder of Israelis.
Question: What do Palestinians say? Is the recent wave of stabbing and shooting attacks against Israelis motivated by a dispute over territory?
Answer: No. In fact, the Palestinian motivation for the latest wave of stabbing and shooting attacks stems from incitement surrounding a fake threat against a certain mosque, and the growing Palestinian support for Islamic State.
Beginning last September, a wave of rumors in Palestinian society falsely claimed that Israelis intended to destroy the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem. Even though the fake threat had no basis in fact and never actually materialized, Palestinian leaders encouraged their youth to react to these rumors. Palestinian sources published practical guides on how to stab Jews. In most cases, the attackers themselves explained their motivations on social media, saying they were acting “to defend the Al-Aqsa Mosque.”
Question: Does this mean the United Nations should not encourage peace?
Answer: No, that is not what this means at all.
Israelis want peace and are prepared to see an independent Palestinian state existing side by side in peace with Israel. To that end, Israel has taken significant risks to offer Palestinian independence on three separate occasions in the 25 years since the beginning of the Oslo peace process. But the Palestinian leadership has always refused, sometimes even responding to Israeli offers with violence.
Despite all these risks and challenges, most Israelis continue to support the idea of peace through the creation of an independent Palestinian state. It is appropriate for the UN to encourage efforts for peace.
But when Ban excuses Palestinian terrorism, he lends support and encouragement to the most violent and extreme elements in Palestinian society, thus making peace harder to achieve.
If the Secretary-General is serious about peace for Israelis and Palestinians, he would do well to lend his support to those Palestinians who desire peace instead of to those who desire terror, and to treat Israeli lives with the same degree of seriousness and respect that he shows for the lives of everyone else in the world.
After all, Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has never publicly referred to any of the violence on Earth or throughout history as being “human nature.”
Only the murder of Israelis.
Before you comment on this article, please remind yourself of our Comments Policy. Any comments deemed to be in breach of the policy will be removed at the editor’s discretion.