Directly below is an op-ed I wrote in 1990, right after the murder in Rishon Lezion of seven Arab itinerant laborers by Ami Popper (who’s still doing life and who unlike homicidal Arabs hasn’t been released to ransom hostages or to win a presumed peace-partner’s goodwill).
Have a read:
Listening to the mournful tones and tunes on Israel Radio in the wake of the Rishon Lezion murder of Arab workers, I have a very heretical confession to make: I am not guilty! I feel no shame whatever! I’ve never taken the life of any creature larger than an insect.
I am not unlike millions of Americans who didn’t beat their personal breasts when a gunman recently mowed down diners at a hamburger joint or when another fired his weapon in a schoolyard. If my memory doesn’t fail me, those incidents made no waves in the U.N. Security Council. Neither did the Ras Burka massacre in Sinai and the slaughter only a few months back of Israeli tourists in Egypt.
They are all gone with the wind. Dead and forgotten – as are the bus passengers overturned into a ravine between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem; Ofra Moses, her unborn baby and her five-year-old son, Tal; Rachel Weiss and her three tots; or the two oldsters stabbed on a Jerusalem bus stop bench by a hero of the glorious intifada.
The stabbing of Ein Kerem restaurant owner Ya’acov Shalom, only a few hours after the Rishon bloodshed, failed to so much as flick our public eyelash. We were too busy mourning the Arab victims of a madman to devote much attention to the Jewish victim of a cold, calculated execution, an act of deliberate hate.
The double standard is undeniable. Jewish blood is cheap, and even we Jews have a far cooler reaction to our dead than the Arabs have to theirs. It is almost natural for Jews to be slain; it doesn’t disturb the order of things. And so our own self-appointed guardians of Jewish morality don’t get overly outraged when Jewish blood is spilled. At most, there is the obligatory lip service about “regrettable violence in the absence of political compromise.”
It’s all really our fault, anyway. If Jewish deaths spark any passion in the Left, it’s because “the incident plays into the hands of the extremist Right.”
I don’t blame the Arabs for rioting. They don’t love us. Their parents’ generation rioted and murdered before we had a state or occupied any territories. We are enemies. Any pretext will do to fuel hatred. Remember the mass hysteria of pre-intifada tales about Arab schoolgirls poisoned by a mysterious Jewish gas?
But our own leftwing ought to know better. They know full well that the Rishon killer wasn’t sent by anyone, that – legally insane or not – he acted as an individual and not as the agent of a group, much less of the government of the nation. The talk about “an atmosphere” conducive to the murder of Arabs is reckless demagogy that could in some eyes justify the murder of Jews.
The fact is that we are the tamest people on earth. After 2½ years of stone-throwing and murder, other nations, including the US, would have gone on a vengeful rampage.
Besides, can anyone guarantee that after the achievement of the idyllic, blissful peace (which the Left envisions after we rid ourselves of all our territorial possessions), no individual gunman would ever run wild? Perhaps the assumption is that after peace comes, only Jews will be mowed down by a hail of bullets.
Like the Left’s reaction, that of Israeli Arabs within the Green Line has given hypocrisy and cynicism a bad name. After the discovery of the body of kidnapped soldier Avi Sasportas, now also conveniently forgotten, some of his Ashdod neighbors had the notion of going out to the highway and stoning Gazan cars. But unlike Arab rage, their rage was understood by no one and roundly condemned by all.
Israel’s Arabs then railed against collectively blaming all Arabs for the acts of a few. Innocent citizens mustn’t be punished for the blood they didn’t spill. Very true.
So why are all Jews now being blamed for what Ami Popper did? If it’s indecent to collectively blame all Arabs even for the dastardly crimes perpetrated by the organization they admire and claim speaks for them, why should I be blamed for a Mr. Popper whom I don’t admire, who doesn’t speak for me and whom I didn’t even know existed until last Sunday?
Why is it now dangerous for me to drive through the Triangle, Galilee, the Negev and even certain sections of Lod, Haifa and Jaffa? These are all located within what the PLO lately purports to recognize as part of the State of Israel and not as territories it claims.
Imagine how Israel’s Arabs and the Israeli Left would have reacted had Jews rioted after a terrorist outrage, as the Arabs of Nazareth did. If the Arabs are so sensitive to the loss of innocent lives, why were they not nearly as outraged when Israeli mothers and their infants were burned alive?
And why are firebombs being hurled in Haifa and Nazareth, within the Green Line? Why were two buses, full of innocent passengers, attacked in Nazareth the day after the Rishon attack?
But the brutal truth we must face is that Israeli Arabs are rioting not because they value human lives so highly but because they hate so intensely. We can be trendy and turn a blind eye to hate, but that won’t make it go away.
As to our own moralists, let them not subscribe to the age-old anti-Semitic axiom that Jews may not have deviants among them, as is natural to all other groups. Genteel anti-Semites will tell us that they put us on a pedestal and expect us to abide by higher moral standards. Less-sophisticated bigots simply say that what is OK for others is forbidden to us. And so, any transgression committed by one Jew automatically stigmatizes all Jews and makes them liable to the severest punishment.
By these double standards, I am culpable for the shooting in Rishon. I feel as heavy a burden of blame and shame for it as I do for the crucifixion of Jesus or the baking of matzot with the pure blood of innocent Christian babies.
It couldn’t get more eerily déjà vu. The above piece could have well been written today.
History’s repetitious patterns are no less than scary. Apart from negligible details – like names, places and dates – events replicate themselves with uncanny precision, as if painted from the identical stencil.
It was no surprise that the discovery of the remains of three slain Jewish schoolboys produced whoops of joy on both the streets of Ramallah and Gaza, that candy and sticky pastries were distributed to elated passersby, that celebratory gunshots and fireworks were set off by neighboring Arabs during the solemn funeral, that the gloating three-finger salute gained such popularity among Arabs everywhere during the agonizing18-day search for the abducted teens.
Likewise, it was no surprise that Arabs within sovereign Israel already rioted before the nauseating revenge murder of Muhammad abu-Khdeir became a cause célèbre. They blocked highway 65 near Umm el-Fahm, pulled drivers from their cars and checked their identities. The Jews among them were beaten up and their vehicles burned.
No one condemned this as racist because by skewed postmodern criteria, racism can be only attributed to Jews – never to Arabs.
After Muhammad’s body was found, it was a foregone conclusion that the riots would escalate, that all Jews would be held liable, that Arabs would naturally run amok and that anyone who ventured into their midst – even in Jaffa – was at grave risk.
Nobody denounced this, although unlike supposedly moderate Mahmoud Abbas, Israel doesn’t seek to set loose duly convicted murderers. Unlike Abbas, Israel doesn’t defray hefty monthly wages to mass-murderers (both behind bars and after they had been sprung).
Unlike Abbas, Israel doesn’t confer murderers’ names on central city squares, streets, schools and miscellaneous institutions. Unlike Abbas, Israel doesn’t glorify murderers in its educational system as role-models and it doesn’t shower perks and benefits on the killers’ kin.
The media, schools and mosques that Abbas controls have even lionized the two beasts who essentially decapitated three-month-old Hadas Fogel and who butchered her parents and two young brothers in their bedrooms.
Israelis were sincerely shaken to the core to learn that Muhammad was murdered by Jews. Yet, rather than be extolled, his murderers are reviled as the renegades they are, as going against our grain – as actually playing by Arab rules.
But here’s where we encounter our enemies’ cynical lopsided logic. By their own rules of engagement – assuming for argument’s sake that we submit ourselves to them – we should be perceived just as entitled as Arabs to pursue vendettas. This is the elementary protocol of the blood-feud.
Yet even hypothetical Jewish retribution is censured a priori as illegitimate. What is valid – in fact a sacred duty – for one side, is intolerable and entirely villainous for the other.
Unlike our own, Arab society is unbothered by the pluralistic niceties of moral-relativism. Allah is exclusively on their side and they are the only interpreters of his will. The murder of Jews is divinely decreed and this isn’t only Hamas ideology.
By this precept, Jews must die and have no right to resist. That’s their lot. Not only do they possess no right to avenge, they posses no right to self-defense, to at all fight. Their very existence is a provocation, a casus belli.
This is key to understanding today’s Mideast. It’s axiomatic that Arabs have the right to inflict incalculable harm on all Jews – and to do so in the most sadistically inventive ways – but the Jews’ attempts to deflect such blows are evil, outrageous and deserving of merciless punishment.
Failure to admit how selective Arab rules of warfare are precludes making sense of anything in our region and dooms to failure any so-called peace drives and mediation initiatives. The tragedy is that not only is the fundamental asymmetry between Jewish and Arab mindsets not comprehended abroad, but there’s no inclination to even consider it. Worse yet – one-sided ferocious Arab indignation inevitably arouses empathy overseas.