Christian Arabs Photo from TheTower dot org LOGOEquating Islamist terrorism with Arabs is a categorically false pejorative that dehumanizes an entire ethic group, inciting others to falsely judge, to mindlessly hate. As such it is morally repulsive. Enough.


After the "Lone Wolf, or Knife, Intifada" began in September 2015, responsibility for the murderous assaults began to be attributed to an enthnic group instead of an ideology that has infected people from every ethnic group.

"Arab Terror Runs Rampant in Jerusalem," one headline screamed. "Thwarted Arab Terror Attack in Jerusalem’s Abu Tor Neighborhood," shouted another. "Jewish Woman Escapes Arab Mob Attack," cried one more. Not only headlines, but often essays included the ethnic attribution. An "Arab terrorist tried to steal soldier's gun," one reporter wrote. "The Arabs hurled rocks at her car," stated another.

For its part, social media ran rampant with the theme. Israel advocacy groups on Facebook commonly reported atrocities committed "by Arabs." A Page with more than three million fans regularly did this. One of its posts included this tease for an article it wanted readers to open: "Arab terrorists had a sinister, evil plan." Another Israel advocacy group labeled a video, "The Israel Dogs That Make Arab Terrorists Pee in Their Pants." The group has more than 400 thousand fans.

An English speaking Israeli and radio personality experienced a terror attack firsthand. The video he posted from the scene began with the words, "Apparently, I was lucky. ...Arabs tried to pull an Israeli woman from her car and murder her." His report went viral.

It is likely that the journalists and social media activists who wrote these posts will be quick to argue that Arab was a factual description.

The problem is that use of Arab as an adjective to describe evil conduct converts the word into a racial slur. As such, its rhetorical use is identical to what the Allies did in the Second World War, demonizing ethnic identities. Japs, Krauts, they were called.

Use of the word Arab to describe acts of terror is not only dehumanizing, it is simply is not true.

Most Arabs do not engage in these despicable crimes. Most of them in Israel work with us, learn with us, shop with us, play with us. In fact, the vast majority of Arabs in Israel make invaluable contributions to the common good. A few of them include journalist, Khaled Abu Toameh; Bethlehem pastor, Naim Khoury; teenage Muslim Zionist, Mohammad Zoabi. And not only in Israel. Everywhere the vast majority of Arabs are fundamentally peace-loving, non-violent and tolerant. Do they sometimes grind their teeth while tolerating? Do they struggle with xenophobia? Of course they do. So do we all.

What then of those who shed Jewish blood? What of their leaders who campaign for Israel's annihilation? Are they not Arabs?

In Israel, yes; most of them are. But in the broader context of the Middle East, this very vocal and dangerous minority is represented by almost every ethnic group. They are Persians, Turks, Syrians, Arabs. And in the even greater world at-large, they are Russian, English, German, French: Asian, Latin, African. And yes, Anglo-American too.

Another problem with the use of Arab to describe terror is that it is a misdiagnosis. The real villain is ideology, not ethnicity.

The real villain of terror is mainly known by disguise. It loves the garbs of religion, culture, and politics. In these various robes, it sanctifies hate, justifies lies, glorifies death, and promises fame. Some religions, some cultures, some political systems are more vulnerable than others to being co-opted by such villainy. Some, if you will, are more susceptible to possession by this spirit. Some are more susceptible, but all are vulnerable. Including yours. Including mine.

Sometimes the disguised villain of terror can be named. In Israel and throughout the Middle East, he is properly called Islamist. But he also can be called fundamentalist, liberal, globalist, secularist. None of these names is perfect, however. There are uninfected people behind each label. Perhaps most accurately, the villain is an extremist. But, committed to disguise, he almost always uses language of moderation.

Today in Israel, the villain's mask is slipping off. What we are seeing is an ancient and familiar foe. We have seen him before and we will see him again. His anti-Semitic insatiable blood lust is at least as old as Abraham.

Still, in most cases, there is no need for diagnostic adjectives to accompany reports of terrorism. When the underlying cause is considered, however, calling it Arab is a categorically false pejorative that dehumanizes an entire ethic group, inciting others to falsely judge, to mindlessly hate. As such it is morally repulsive. Enough.


Brian Schrauger is the Editor-in-Chief of the Jerusalem Journal. He can contacted at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Originally published 8 October 2015 by Bridges For Peace at In this version of the article, certain verb tenses have been changed, most from present-tense to past-tense.

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