Barely had Israel assimilated the shock and grief over the murder of the three kidnapped Jewish teenagers, Naftali Fraenkel, Eyal Yifrah and Gilad Shaer, than it had to confront a horrible new development.
At the time of writing, it is not known who abducted and murdered an Arab boy, 17-year-old Muhammad Abu Khdeir, the night after the funerals of the three Jewish teens. This did not stop many, including the US Secretary of State John Kerry, from irresponsibly inflaming passions by denouncing a Jewish “revenge” attack while serious Arab rioting escalated in the capital.
If Jews did murder this boy, that would be appalling. No excuse whatever could be made for it. Jews do not do vengeance. Jews do justice.
Whoever murdered him, ugly Jewish violence broke out after the three teenagers’ funerals, with rioting and attacks on Arabs in central Jerusalem and a Facebook campaign, now taken down, calling for vengeance.
Any such violence is a stain on the Jewish conscience. The police must root out and stifle all such Jewish extremism. They must do this first and foremost because it is right.
It is also hard to exaggerate the damage such Jewish extremists do to Israel’s cause.
The Western world falsely casts Israel, the victim of never-ending Arab attempts to exterminate it, as the aggressor in the region and the killer of innocents.
It would cut no ice at all to point out that there can be no comparison between a tiny fringe element of Jewish ultras committing violence against Arabs, condemned by most Israelis and pursued by the Israeli justice system, and the systematic incitement to hatred and murder of Jews by Palestinian society.
Many in the West are already indifferent and even hostile to that distinction, desperate instead to deny the reality of Jewish victimization. Regardless of police uncertainty over the Arab boy’s murder, they instantly decided upon Israel’s collective guilt. Such people simply refuse to acknowledge savage reality.
The murder of the three Jewish teenagers was the product of a psychotic, systematic Jew-hating death cult masquerading as nationalism and “resistance.”
The mother of one of the two suspects has said she would be proud of her son if he had murdered the Jewish boys. Who can be surprised? Incitement is embedded in Palestinian political and religious culture, propagated by the laughably designated “moderate” Palestinian Authority as well as by Hamas.
The PA glorifies the murder of Israelis, naming streets, soccer stadiums and summer camps after those who slaughter them. PA-controlled media and educational materials teach Arab children to hate and murder Jews.
Deals exchanging Arab prisoners for kidnapped Israelis have been openly encouraged by Mahmoud Abbas.
This culture of death is subsidized and sanitized by Britain, Europe and the US. The EU helps fund the PA’s genocidal propaganda as well as NGOs spewing out incendiary lies about Israel and its history. UK development money is being used by the PA to finance terrorists imprisoned in Israeli jails.
Those Western politicians shed crocodile tears this week for the three murdered Israeli boys.
President Obama said he could not imagine the “indescribable pain” of their parents – before warning in the next breath against Israeli self-defense measures that might “further destabilize the situation.” Yet this same Obama has himself helped destabilize it by rushing to recognize the newly Hamas-linked PA – a link which surely helped reduce security around the time that the teenagers were kidnapped.
The British Prime Minister David Cameron struck a more robust note when he said, “Britain will stand with Israel as it seeks to bring to justice those responsible.” Yet this is the same Britain whose Foreign Office helps fan the flames of anti-Israel incitement by falsely claiming that Israel’s “occupation” and “settlements” are illegal, while in fact the Jews are legally entitled several times over to inhabit the disputed territories.
No leader in the UK, USA or EU speaks out against the Western delegitimization of Israel. None speaks out against the tsunami of anti-Semitism now engulfing the Muslim world and the West. None speaks out against Palestinian lies and incitement.
They give a free pass to the Palestinians – who therefore know that, as far as the West is concerned, they can kidnap and murder Israeli children with impunity.
But they have a yet greater weapon. While the Jews sanctify life, Palestinians glorify death. The asymmetry is lethal. For contrary to the calumny spread by its enemies, Israel’s self-defense is hampered by the moral scrupulousness that instructs its military wherever possible to avoid killing civilians. By infernal contrast, Palestinians deliberately put their own civilians into harm’s way and seek out Jewish civilians to kill, especially the young.
The great outpouring of collective grief over the murdered Jewish teenagers shows this is indeed where Israel is most vulnerable.
Few outside Israel comprehend the constant dread of Israeli parents whose children are conscripted into military service, facing untold horrors and possible death all because the Arabs refuse to allow the Jewish people to live in its own homeland.
A barbaric and psychotic enemy killing Jews with impunity while an indifferent or hostile world looks the other way is the recurrent Jewish nightmare. When will they let us live, weep the Israelis, reeling from yet more slaughter. We are with you, soothes the world, as it lets the Jews once more swing in the wind.
This is wickedness piled upon evil. But in the center of this horror, the families of the murdered Israeli boys lit a flame in the darkness. Their strength of character, courage and undimmed faith moved us to tears because, even from the depths of their agony, they were affirming life itself. That’s what Jews have always done: In the face of persecution, torture and genocide they choose to live and not to die.
Ultimately that should be the weapon against this evil. Islamic fanatics threaten not just Israel but the free world. Israel can lead the common defense by doing the one thing the Islamic world fears most: reaching out in particular to Arab and Muslim women and young people, opening their eyes to truth and freedom and teaching them to love life rather than death.
Islamic fanatics do not fear death. They seek it out. We should be finding imaginative ways of doing what really will destroy them: using the weapons of the modernity they so deeply fear to subvert the cult of death that threatens us all.
Melanie Phillips is a columnist for The Times (UK)