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During my first few weeks in Jerusalem, I found myself constantly getting into arguments about the conflict with my roommates and in social settings.
You support gay rights, access to abortion and gun control.
The belief that Israel is unjustly bullying the Palestinians is an inextricable part of this pantheon.
Liberals, human-rights groups and most of the media, though, continued to blame Israel for being attacked.
Ban Ki-moon, for example, who at the time was the head of the United Nations, said in January 2016 ‒ as the streets of my neighborhood were stained with the blood of innocent Israeli civilians ‒ that it was “human nature to react to occupation.” In fact, there is no justification for killing someone, no matter what the political situation may or may not be, and Ban’s statement rankled me.
More than a year later, you can still see their faces plastered around East Jerusalem on posters hailing them as martyrs.
(One of the attackers, Baha Aliyan, 22, was killed at the scene; the second, Bilal Ranem, 23, was captured alive.) Being personally affected by the conflict caused me to question how forgiving I’d been of Palestinian violence previously.I didn’t announce my pro-Palestinian views to them ‒ I was too afraid.But they must have sensed my antipathy (I later learned this is a sixth sense Israelis have).In the interview, his family told me how he was a promising young entrepreneur who was pushed over the edge by the daily humiliations wrought by the occupation.I ended up writing a very sympathetic story about the killer for a Jordanian news site called Al Bawaba News.My wife and I had moved to the Jewish side of town, more or less by chance ‒ the first Airbnb host who accepted our request to rent a room happened to be in the Nachlaot neighborhood where even the hipsters are religious.As a result, almost everyone we interacted with was Jewish Israeli and very supportive of Israel.Most progressives in the US view Israel as an aggressor, oppressing the poor noble Arabs who are being so brutally denied their freedom.“I believe Israel should relinquish control of all of the Gaza Strip and most of the West Bank,” I wrote on July 11, 2015, from a park near my new apartment in Jerusalem’s Baka neighborhood.“The occupation is an act of colonialism that only creates suffering, frustration and despair for millions of Palestinians.”Perhaps predictably, this view didn’t play well among the people I met during my first few weeks in Jerusalem, which, even by Israeli standards, is a conservative city.I felt horrible for having publicly glorified one of the murderers.The man who’d been murdered, Richard Lakin, was originally from New England, like me, and had taught English to Israeli and Palestinian children at a school in Jerusalem.