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Friday,
Aug 22nd

Layers of horror

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Murder of Israeli teens, immolation of a Palestinian teen, Hamas rockets. A time for war — and a wakeup call.

I.

Sadly enough, the murder, apparently by Jews, of a Palestinian boy, 16 — it is apparently necessary to state — is ethically repugnant and politically stupid, both in the extreme. This, even if the Palestinian boy were not burned to death.

It becomes necessary to state corollaries:

• Jewish education in Israel, the amazing efflorescence in Torah study there notwithstanding, is missing something basic, something prior to ritual and intellection, namely, ethics; as in, thou shalt not kill.

• Holocaust education in Israel, at least in some circles, is woefully inadequate. The burning of a human being is something that every Israeli should know about and viscerally recoil from — not that the violation of thou shalt not kill in any form is less horrendous.

• The death penalty in Israel for terrorists, regardless of ethnicity, must be seriously examined. The release of murderers from prison only spurs more murders, including, it now seems, by Jews.

• The moral high ground in Israel, occupied for weeks courtesy of Palestinian kidnappers and murderers of Israeli teens, is, in its own way, repugnant and obtuse — repugnant, because there is no value in Jews gaining sympathy and support once again for being the pitied victim; and obtuse, because no one outside Israel cares whether the country occupies the moral high ground or not.

• The reality in Israel — the miraculous realization of Jewish economic, intellectual, political and social ideals, but also the home of a deep alienation, a drastic ignorance of Jewish moral and ethical values — must be faced. Israel needs more than unthinking support from the Diaspora, symbolized by the ridiculously idealized image of Israel pushed by Birthright. Friends do not let friends drive drunk.

II.

Hardly the most important matter at this moment, but necessary by way of perspective, is the matter of chronology.

In the aftermath of three murdered Israeli teens, of one murdered Palestinian teen, and of Hamas’ launch of still another war against Israel, perspective is imperative. We have been so overwhelmed with one layer of horror after another that chronology is imperative to be able to distinguish between seemingly related events. And so:

The rocket attacks on Gaza began before the discovery of the body of a murdered Palestinian boy. The rocket attacks began weeks earlier, before the kidnapping of three Israeli boys, last June 12, became known. The rocket attacks were calculated acts of war, intentional acts of hatred.

Not: Hamas rockets as revenge for an Israeli murder.

Not: Cause-and-effect.

It’s anyone’s guess why Hamas timed its new war close to the kidnapping of the three Israeli boys. Was this an attempt to engender support for the West Bank supporters of Hamas? Was this an attempt to diminish understanding for Israel’s search for the three boys? Is there any rationality at all amongst the leaders of Hamas, sworn to Israel’s destruction, long accustomed to regard their own suffering as secondary to their hatred for Israel?

Whatever — the new Hamas war was not a response to the murder of the Palestinian boy, not a stage in a “cycle of violence,” as if there were any logic, even a perverted logic of violence and revenge, to the attacks on Israel by Hamas. These attacks need no logic. In 2005, Israel withdrew from every square inch of the land of Gaza that Hamas occupies and rules — and still the attacks continue. If Israel and the Palestinian Authority reached an agreement for Palestinian independence, these attacks would continue.

They are acts of war and hatred. Nothing else.

One targeted Israeli assassination of a Hamas leader brings another bravado-animated Hamas leader to the fore. His fate, often as not, is sealed in the same way. No matter — the hatred continues. It knows no logic. That is depressing because irrational hatred knows no productive counterproposal. But recognition of the irrationality of Hamas’ hatred for Israel would be liberating. Acknowledgement that only Hamas can save itself from itself would save the likes of naifs John Kerry and others from worsening the Israel-Palestinian conflict by raising wholly unrealistic expectations of a comprehensive solution.

Not every problem has a solution; not, at least, a solution from without. A change of heart, a radical excision of anti-Semitism from the manifesto of Hamas, can only come from within.

Meanwhile, Jews and Israelis are left with their own internal work to do — Jewish boys apparently  burning a Palestinian boy to death! It is more than a disgrace. It is a wakeup call.

Copyright © 2014 by the Intermountain Jewish News

 

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