Sunday, July 13, 2014

An Asymmetrical Conflict

by Emily Amrousi

When the suspects in the murder of Muhammad Abu Khdeir were identified during the week-long mourning period for the three kidnapped boys, Eyal Yifrach, Gil-ad Shaer and Naftali Frenkel, my blood ran cold. I was overcome with anger and dread. However, the news anchors seemed thrilled by the discovery that the murderers were Jewish extremists, almost relieved at the news: Phew, we almost believed it was an inter-Arab clan war. 

On that same day, Israeli-Arabs, with their blue Israeli ID cards, set the country ablaze. Nothing similar happened in Tel Aviv, but there is a country beyond the glamorous eateries dotting the boulevards of Tel Aviv. Afula, Acre, Dimona, Nazareth Illit, Arad, Carmiel, Omer, Jaffa, Shfaram, Jerusalem, Tayibe and Tira. 

We have had a crazy week here, so we must make sure that we remember. Even before the rockets from Gaza turned the northern town of Zichron Yaakov into the country's south, we got the full package deal when it came to the Arab riots: stones, Palestinian flags, grenades, Molotov cocktails, hate. 

A bus diver on the way to Maaleh Adumim was photographed wearing a motorcycle helmet to protect himself from stones being thrown. In Moreshet in the Gush Segev region, in Poriya near Tiberias, in Einav in Western Samaria, in Pisgat Zeev -- roads were blocked. There was no coming or going. In Sderot, the walls shook. The detached news reporters did not expect the flames to die down: At the height of the rioting, they said they could understand the rage after years of discrimination, and especially after Abu Khdeir's murder.

On Monday, when the Yifrach, Shaer and Frenkel families went to visit their sons' graves, veteran Israeli journalist Rino Tzror wrote: "Israel has never been plagued by a devil so evil as extremist right-wing thugs and their inciters. ... We can and will beat this devil." It's enough to make you lose your mind. The six criminals on the fringes of society who murdered this teen made the situation symmetrical. Murderers here, murderers there, and in Berlin, there's a great soccer team. 

The comforting truth is that our society is disgusted by these acts, while on the other side, such acts are admired. We are doing a better job in all things related to the position of murderers in the social hierarchy. There are 42 cities in Israel that have a street called Hashalom, or "Peace Street." On the Palestinian side, dozens of schools, summer camps, sporting events and streets are named after terrorists. In a square by an Israeli gas station (yes, in the settlements) there is a large inscription on a rock: "I will give peace in the land," (Leviticus 26:6). Not too far from there, a central square in Ramallah is named after Dalal Mughrabi, the terrorist who murdered 37 Israelis. The one Israeli political party that could be said to harbour a shred of racism -- Otzma Le'Yisrael -- did not make the electoral threshold. Hamas, the party of death, won with crushing popularity. 

When three teenaged boys were kidnapped and murdered, the responses here ranged from reading psalms, to lighting memorial candles, to playing sad songs and rallying in city squares. That is the worst of it, that is Israeli society, no matter what the handful of oddballs on Facebook are writing. On the Arab side, after Abu Khdeir was murdered, the reactions ranged from blocking roads to burning light rail stations to pipe bombs, and eventually, to firing rockets at most of Israel.

But the Left has made a sacred cause of finding the symmetry between the sides. Radio broadcaster Razi Barkai made a speech on Army Radio about extremists on both sides, both of them, he said, "wear kippot." Channel 2 news reporter Oded Ben-Ami organized an emotional televised meeting between Gil-ad Shaer's grandfather and Abu Khdeir's father. While the bereaved grandfather expressed sorrow and shame over Muhammad's murder, the father from Shuafat refused to take part in the equation: "I don't know who murdered the three boys -- maybe a Jew did it. No one has confessed to that crime."

The Left have very little shame, and even that small bit disappears during times of emergency. Haartez journalist Avirama Golan proudly refused MK Ayelet Shaked's (Habayit Hayehudi) offer to participate in the lobby for Hebrew literature. Why did she refuse? Because of Ayelet Shaked. "Hebrew literature is very dear to my heart, but these days, it is more important to me than ever to draw the line between what I can and cannot support," Golan wrote.

This is what puts us in emergency situations: There are those who work with national responsibility in mind and encourage unity -- for example, the three mothers of the kidnapped teens who refuse to criticize the system in the name of cohesion -- and there are those who are "drawing lines." The unrestrained attack on Economy and Trade Minister Naftali Bennett at the Haaretz Peace Conference, which ironically took place under rocket fire, is an example of this line-drawing. Who is for us, and who is against us?

The great preachers of tolerance and pluralism turned out to be a violent bunch. And this during a witch-hunt for incitement among the Right. Bennett tried to talk about peace and the crowd shouted "murderer," "facist," "Abu Khdeir's blood is on your hands." Because there is only one kind of peace."There are people here who thought that we needed to speak with [former Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser] Arafat," Haaretz publisher Amos Schocken said in an effort to calm the audience, "It can't be that they won't let Bennett be heard."

Champions at whitewashing the opposite of reality

The Left's Olympian ability to analyze reality in a backwards fashion is becoming even more clear. Former Education Ministry official Adar Cohen wrote of Jewish attacks on Facebook, basing his information on what he heard from Arab friends. While the skies above Samaria and the Galilee were still shrouded in the smoke rising from the burning tires, this former supervisor of civics instruction wrote: "A report from Tayibe: Things are calm, despite the responses to the attempts of Jewish youths to enter the city and carry out price-tag attacks."

This man taught teachers. His worldview is critical. While towns in the south were under fire, he insisted in his naivete on believing his Arab friends that this whole mess is because of price-tag attacks. "Report from Arara: At midnight, settlers entered and tried to kidnap people from the Umm al-Fahm and Arara area. The riots are in response...Two days ago, settlers came with weapons, and since then, things have not been calm. There was also price-tag graffiti in Musmus. The sense of threat is palpable, because only a month ago, their neighbors were just able to prevent a fire started by settlers at the mosque."

The filthy murderers who killed Abu Khdeir did not cause the riots in the Galilee or the air raid sirens in Tel Aviv. The price-tag graffiti in Musmus is not reasonable grounds to punish Israel with stones and rockets. Hamas is determined to make our lives bitter for obscure religious and nationalistic reasons. Solving the murder of the boy in Shuafat is only an excuse. But there are some who think Arab violence is always in response to Jewish provocation. And the biggest Jewish provocation of all is Zionism. Or, simply, being a Jew.

Emily Amrousi


Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

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