Saturday, December 20, 2014

Moral Equivalence

Whenever hostilities break out between Israel and the Palestinians we're often told that both sides are equally guilty, that there's some sort of moral equivalence between them. At Viewpoint we have rejected this idea since it seems clear to us and indeed to anyone who looks at the facts objectively that the Palestinians are the chief obstacle, maybe the sole obstacle, to peace in that region.

Yossi Klein Halevi wrote a column at the Wall Street Journal (Subscription required) on the day in which four Jewish worshippers were butchered by Palestinian terrorists who hacked them to death while they were at prayer in their synagogue. Halevi compares this tragedy with another 20 years ago and the comparison is instructive. The reactions to those two events tell us much about the sort of people the Palestinians have chosen to be their leaders and the sort of people the Israelis have elected to be theirs.

Halevi writes:
On the morning of Feb. 25, 1994, the Jewish holiday of Purim, Baruch Goldstein, a far-right activist living in the West Bank town of Kiryat Arba, entered the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron and gunned down 29 Muslim men at prayer.

The horror within Israeli society was overwhelming and unequivocal. Speaking from the Knesset podium, Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin excommunicated Goldstein from the people of Israel. The country’s two chief rabbis denounced the attack as a desecration of God’s name, the ultimate Jewish sin. The official publication of the West Bank settlement movement, Nekudah, denounced Goldstein, a settler, as a stain on its camp. Only a radical fringe sought to justify and explain the massacre as a response to Palestinian provocations.

Tuesday’s massacre by two Palestinian terrorists of four Jews at prayer in a Jerusalem synagogue is the Palestinian Baruch Goldstein moment. Yet rather than respond with shame to the murder of those Jews, as well as of an Israeli police officer, the Palestinian reaction has ranged from reluctant condemnation to outright celebration. Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas, reportedly after being pressed by Secretary of State John Kerry, condemned the attack—even as he cited Israeli “provocative acts.” Less equivocal was Mr. Abbas’s adviser on religious affairs, Mahmoud Al-Habbash, who said of the terrorists: “We are behind them. The leadership is with them.” Palestinians cheered in the streets of Gaza.
The Palestinians' reaction to this savagery is as distressing as it is disgusting. It's hard to maintain the notion that there's a moral equivalence between the two sides as long as crimes like this are celebrated.

Halevi closes with this: In an era of moral madness, in which much of the world judges Israel more harshly than it judges Hamas, this must be said: Nothing Israel does or doesn’t do is responsible for provoking young Palestinians to hack to death Jews in prayer. The provocation is Jewish prayer itself, the right of the Jewish people to live in its land.

One image from the synagogue massacre will haunt Jews for a long time to come. According to a medic on the scene, terrorists severed an arm wrapped in the straps of tefillin, the phylacteries in which religious Jews recite their morning prayers. That terrible image has reinforced the prevailing sense within Israeli society that the war against the state of Israel is only the latest phase of an old war against the Jews.

If you google Halevi's name you might be able to find the entire column. It's worth reading.