Nimer Mahmoud Jamal, the 37-year-old Palestinian terrorist who on September 25 murdered three Israelis at the entrance to Har Adar near Jerusalem, had a permit from the Israeli authorities to work in Israel.
His family and friends say he also had a good life and was considered lucky to have been employed by Jews because he received a higher salary and was protected by Israeli labor laws. The night before Jamal set out in his murderous mission, he spent a few hours at the fitness gym in his village, located only a few miles away from Har Adar.
So, Jamal, the murderer of the three Israelis (two of the victims were Arab Israelis), was not poor. He was not unemployed. In fact, according his friends, Jamal earned much more than what a senior police officer or school teacher working for the Palestinian Authority or Hamas brings home every month.
What was it, then, that drove Jamal to his murderous scheme, gunning down three young men who were supposed to be facilitating his entry into Israel? Was it because he could not provide for his children? No. Was it because his landlord was pressuring him about the rent? No: Jamal lived in a nice place of his own, complete with furniture, appliances and bedrooms that any family in the West would be proud to own.
Jamal wanted to murder Jews because he believed this was a noble deed that would earn him the status of shaheed (martyr) and hero among his family, friends and society. In Palestinian culture in particular, and Arab culture in general, murderers of Jews are glorified on a daily basis.
They are touted as the lucky ones who are now in the company of Prophet Mohammed and the angels in Paradise. Male terrorists are also busy with the 72 virgins they were awarded as a prize for murdering Jews. The murderers — as Muslim clerics and leaders hammer into the heads of Palestinians — are also given access to rivers of honey and fine drinks once they set foot in their imaginary Paradise.
Jamal’s friends and family are now convinced that he has been rewarded by Allah and Prophet Mohammed in Paradise for murdering three Israelis. They do not care about his children, whom he left behind, and certainly not about the families of the three Israelis he murdered.
In his village and on social media, Jamal is being hailed as a hero and martyr. Not a single Palestinian has come out against the cowardly terror attack by a man who took advantage of a permit from the Israeli authorities to commit a terror attack.
The Jewish families that once employed Jamal as a cleaner had trusted him. They had opened their homes and hearts, as well as their wallets, to him. The Israeli authorities wanted to trust him and see him as a normal person who just wanted a job with a decent income to support his family.
But Jamal, like many other Palestinians, betrayed the trust the Jews gave him. He chose to stab in the back the same people who had gone out of their way to help him.
Sadly, this terrorist also betrayed the cause of thousands of Palestinian workers who enter Israel for work every day. These workers stand to lose the most from Jamal’s terror attack and treachery.
Luckily for them, the Israeli authorities are saying that the Har Adar murder will not affect Israel’s policy of granting permits to Palestinians to work inside Israel, because the vast majority are not involved in violence.
The Har Adar murders ought to teach us at least one thing: that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is not about the economy or improving the living conditions of the Palestinians. Jamal, who had a job and freedom of movement and a lovely apartment, surely proves this point, as do the murders or attempted murders by other well-to-do terrorists such as Mohammad Atta, Osama bin Laden, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, and many others.
Jamal’s bloody lesson, however, apparently still needs to be learned by the West, which, despite all evidence, doggedly persists in drawing an unbroken line between Palestinian terrorism and poverty.
Jamal, however, is far from the first terrorist to convey this crucial lesson: most Palestinian terrorists over the past decades were educated and had jobs.
Some Palestinian suicide bombers were nurses, schoolteachers and lawyers. Some came from middle class and even wealthy families and clans. Money and education, however, did not stop them from committing atrocities against Israelis.
Terrorists like Jamal are motivated by deep hatred for Jews and Israel. They have been indoctrinated and brainwashed by their leaders and Muslim religious clerics into believing that Jews are evil and need to be eliminated by all available means.
Not a single terrorist has complained of carrying out an attack because he or she were starving, had no food for the children and were unable to buy ice cream from the local grocery store. The terrorists, in fact, spell it out as it is: they openly announce that they are motivated by their indoctrinated hatred for Israel and Jews. This is what the Palestinian, Arab and Islamic propaganda machine has done to generations of Arabs and Muslims. Officials and people in the West may deny what they hear as hard as they like; but the terrorists could not be more are honest about what their murderous motives are.
What, then, about those on the West who continue to talk about the conflict as if it were about creating new jobs and paving roads and improving infrastructure for the Palestinians? This seems to be the approach endorsed in the U.S. by Donald Trump’s administration.
There is nothing wrong, of course, with boosting the economy and creating job opportunities. This might have a moderating effect on a few Palestinians. They will be happy to see a better economy and a drop in the unemployment rate.
Such measures, however, will never change the hearts and minds of Palestinians. Palestinians will never recognize Israel’s right to exist because Americans and Europeans built them an industrial park somewhere in the West Bank.
Over the past 25 years, the Palestinians have received billions of dollars in aid from the international community. When they headed to the ballot boxes, they voted for Hamas because it told them it will destroy Israel. Palestinians are most likely to vote for Hamas once again if free and democratic elections were held tomorrow in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
We might remember this as Trump’s Middle East envoy, Jason Greenblatt, returns to our region to discuss ways of reviving the so-called peace process between Israel and the Palestinians. The Trump administration and Jason Greenblatt seem to have bought the lie that “It’s about money, stupid.”
No. The conflict is about an unbendable refusal to allow a Jewish Israel to exist in the Middle East. It is about the abiding interest in the Arab and Islamic world to obliterate Israel and murder Jews. It is about the ongoing, bloody Arab and Islamic incitement against Israel and Jews. Jobs are not the problem, and they are not the solution. Let us pay attention to reality for a change: Jamal and his fellow terrorists can teach us something — if only we would listen.
Bassam Tawil is a Muslim based in the Middle East.