We can and we do [b]urn children alive, execute murderous, inhuman, incomprehensible terror. And no, we’re no better than them.... – Sima Kadmon, “We’re no better than our enemies,” Ynet
They are no different than ISIS… this is Jewish jihadism, identical in every detail to Islamic jihadism – Ron Ben-Yishai, Ynet
Israelis stab gay people and burn children. There isn’t a shred of slander, the slightest degree of exaggeration, in this dry description – Gideon Levy, Haaretz
The events of last week cast doubt on the ability of Israel to survive the merciless brutality that surrounds it.
Deplorable acts by fringe elements
The insanity – and there is no other word to describe the frenzy that seized the public debate over acts, however heinous, perpetrated by a handful of individuals (some yet unidentified) – on the outermost fringe of Israeli society, betrayed a dangerous and dysfunctional disability in the nation’s capacity to order its priorities.
For in what is arguably the most fateful 60-day period in recent decades for the Jewish state, when all the nation’s energies should be focused with laser-like intensity on foiling the perilous Iran nuclear deal before Congress, attention has been diverted by sanctimonious hand-wringing and moralistic self-flagellation over crimes of individual perpetrators on the very margins of society.
From the outset, let me state categorically that the torching of an family’s house in the Palestinian village of Duma, by as yet unknown assailants, causing the death of their infant son; the stabbing of participants of the gay parade in Jerusalem, and the arson at the Church of Multiplication on the shores of the Sea of Galilee are all deplorable crimes.
No democratic society can accept them and it is imperative that their perpetrators be sought out, apprehended and punished to the full extent of the law.
But for all the abhorrence one might feel for these nefarious acts – an abhorrence expressed by the entire Israeli mainstream – to blame them on Israeli society as a whole is as deceptive as it is despicable, as mendacious as it is malevolent, as preposterous as it is pernicious.
It is little more than a contemptible and cynical exploitation of tragedy to regain relevance for a political credo that has been regularly rejected by voters at the polls and repeatedly disproven by bloody realities on the ground.
Island of democracy in sea of tyranny
For in actual fact, Israeli society is a remarkable island of liberty and humanity in a sea of tyranny and theocracy, an extraordinary oasis of democracy and freedom in a desert of despotism.
True it has blemishes – like any other democratic country in the developed world.
Israel has one of the most open and tolerant regimes on the planet, located in the heart of one of the most closed and intolerant regions on Earth.
While suppression of women, repression of political dissidents, and oppression of gays are, the hallmark of every neighboring countries, Israel has sustained firstworld standards of individual liberties, political pluralism, press freedom, gender equality, tolerance of sexual preferences and freedom of worship. Moreover, it has achieved all this despite the daunting challenges to its survival from both external enemies and “recalcitrant” domestic ethnic minorities, that might well be conducive to far more authoritarian socio-political realities that have emerged in counties in far less harassing and hazardous conditions.
This is an unequivocal indication of the profound commitment of the vast majority of Israeli society, despite its widely diverse socio-cultural composition, to a fundamental democratic ethos, even under the most trying of circumstances.‘All Israelis are guilty…’
But this is certainly not the image conveyed by the mainstream media over the last few days.
Any uninformed neophyte, exposed to the major news channels in Israel, would have come away with the impression that Israel is a homophobic, xenophobic country, teetering on the brink of totalitarianism; a country dominated by hordes of religious zealots, unshaven, wide-eyed, scraggly-haired, skull-capped hill-top youth, egged on by an evil cabal of omnipotent, bearded, black-clad rabbis, bent on – indeed, on the verge of – dismantling civil society, annulling its current legal system, and supplanting it with a clerical code of halachic edicts.
Of course, for anyone even remotely familiar with the realities of Israeli society – the glut of seafood restaurants offering their fare on Friday nights, the congested highways on Saturdays, the skimpy bikinis on crowed beaches over the weekend, the carnal content freely available in the national media – this is clearly complete claptrap; nothing more than deceitful drivel designed to serve a floundering political agenda that has little to with the Palestinian infanticide or the homophobic homicide.
It is an attempt to paint all ideo-political adversaries with the same brush; to taint with the delegitimizing stain of religious fanaticism, all those, who, for a variety of reasoned arguments – security imperatives, historical significance, national heritage, economic pragmatism – oppose territorial concession and political appeasement in the conflict with the Palestinian-Arabs.
Thus, as the Palestinian mouthpiece Gideon Levy charges, “All Israelis are guilty of setting a Palestinian family on fire,” apparently because Israel does not capitulate to the demands of the Palestinians – both those Israelis who resist such capitulation and those who fail to impose it.‘We’re no better than our enemies...’
Despite Levy’s hugely damaging and wildly distortive attacks on his country and countrymen, in which he portrays the margins of Israeli society as representative of the mainstream, and which are gleefully seized upon by Israel’s worst detractors as proof of their venomous Judeophobic vilification, he is, perversely, warmly embraced by the Israeli establishment. A frequent guest on TV political panels and participant in primetime docu-dramas, the very fact that he is permitted to spread his toxic tirade unhindered – indeed, applauded – is in itself the most categorical refutation of his ludicrous indictments.
One can only shudder at the fate of a Palestinian counterpart who dared criticize – never mind, slander – the Palestinian Authority – never mind, Hamas – in a manner even remotely approaching that of Levy’s disparagement of Israel. There is little doubt that not only his/her journalistic career, but probably considerably more, would be cut – perhaps even literally – abruptly short.
But Levy is not alone in the crescendo of misleading and mindless mainstream malignment of the Jewish state. For example, the infuriatingly imbecilic piece by the mass-circulation daily Yediot Aharonot’s Sima Kadmon bleats, “We’re no better than our enemies,” in a base attempt to equate societies that condemn murder with societies that commend it; to liken the morality of those who castigate their murderers with that of those who celebrate them.Disturbing dishonesty
Then there was Ron Ben-Yishai, the veteran military correspondent who, one assumes with a straight-face, wrote: They [Jewish extremists] are no different than ISIS...
this is Jewish jihadism, identical in every detail to Islamic jihadism.”
Identical? Every detail? Yeah, right. Like mass beheading? Like wholesale rape? Like systematic torture? Like billion dollar budgets? Like international reach? It is sad to see such transparent professional dishonesty from someone like Ben-Yishai, who, if anyone, should know that there is not a shred of similarity between sporadic Jewish hate crimes and pervasive jihadist terrorism – either in its aims, scope, capabilities or modus operandi.
It is monstrous mendacity to suggest it is.
This abuse of journalistic privilege has a clear objective.
It is not to secure gay rights or Palestinian toddlers from the maniacal menace of some looming leviathan of Jewish fundamentalism. No, it is far more self-serving than that.
On one level, journalists/publicists have tried to outdo themselves in blanket besmirchment to curry favor and status with the left-leaning bon-ton echelons in Israeli civil society, where one’s level of “piety” is determined by the ferocity of one’s self-righteous attacks, however unfounded and outlandish, on the Jewish settlers/communities across the pre-1967 line.Trying to shut down debate
On another level, the recent attacks have been seized on to try and delegitimize political adversaries on the Right by alleged association with the perpetrators – either endorsing their ideology or not opposing it vigorously enough – thereby shutting down any substantive debate.
For anyone who thinks this is unfounded, I suggest they read Gideon Levy’s column, where he proclaims that “It’s simply not possible to... be shocked by the settlers who set a family on fire [or] to support gay rights [but] hold a founding conference in Ariel... Evil knows no bounds; it begins in one place and quickly spreads in every direction...”
So not only does Levy (unlike the police and the IDF) “know” that the unidentified arsonists at Duma were “settlers,” but he equates the evil of burning babies with that of holding a conference across the pre-1967 line in a “settlement” like Ariel which was established by the Labor Party in 1977, and where Yair Lapid launched his new party, Yesh Atid, in 2012.
Moreover, for Levy: “The first breeding ground of those who torched the Dawabsha family was the Israel Defense Forces... After all, what’s the difference between lobbing a fire bomb and dropping a bomb? In terms of the intention, or the intent, there is no difference.”
So there you have it. Building a Jewish city, defending Israeli citizens against rockets, and incinerating Palestinian babies are part of the same inevitable causal chain. What could be clearer than that? Jewish hate crimes are NOT Arab terror
Of course as usual, the political representatives of the Right have once again shown that they have neither the intellectual depth nor the ideological commitment to hold their own and have folded in face of this assault from the Left. From the prime minster, Netanyahu, through Defense minister Ya’alon, to Public Security Minister Erdan, all obediently adopted the mendacious mantra of the Left that Jewish hate crimes, vandalism and hooliganism are the equivalent of Arab terrorism, and hence equivalent extrajudicial measures must be used to combat them.
This is a massive misrepresentation. For while the two phenomena may have some similar features, to draw any equivalence between them would be like equating a rhinoceros with a chihuahua, simply because both are quadrupeds.
The government may well have justification for employing extrajudicial measures, such as administrative detentions, against Arab/Muslim terrorist organizations, for they are backed, financed and equipped by foreign governments and thus have capacities far beyond those of any private individual or association of private individuals.
Since its inception, Israel has been assailed by terrorist organizations that have enjoyed the active support of various Arab governments including Egypt, Jordan, Syria and Iraq.
Today, unlike Arab terrorist organizations, Jewish extremists have no equivalent of Iran to equip them or Qatar to finance them; they have no international offices with communications/supply infrastructures spanning the globe. Accordingly, the security forces need to be provided with powers to deal with Arab terrorist organizations that they do not (or at least, should not) require to deal with Jewish extremists.
It is enough to look at the scrawny youths, arrested by administrative decree, without formal charges, to realize how pathetically misplaced any comparison between the ideologically driven crimes of Jews and the genocidal aims of the jihadist Arab terrorist organizations is.Rare agreement with Gal-On
Those urging equating Jewish hate crimes/vandalism with Arab terrorism claim that preemptive extrajudicial measures could have prevented past transgressions.
Thus Ben-Yishai claims, “Had they treated Jewish terrorists the way they have been treating Arab terrorists, they could have prevented many of these acts of murder, arson and vandalism. Had they kept these “price tag criminals” in administrative detention for years, as they do with Arab terrorists when there isn’t enough evidence for a conviction, the Jewish terrorists could have been stopped from carrying out their plans.”
Kadmon expresses similar sentiments: “Don’t condemn the criminal acts after they happen. Prevent them.”
But that can be said of any crime and any suspected wrong-doer.
Are their victims any less deserving of preemptive protection than Palestinian victims of Jewish ideological malefactors? And if not, why not use extrajudicial measures to ensure their safety? Clearly then, the logic of those who would equate Jewish extremism with jihadist terrorism shows no real regard for democratic governance – only fierce political partisanship.
In a rare moment of like-mindedness I found myself agreeing with Meretz chairwoman Zehava Gal-On, who, commenting on administrative detentions declared: “It cannot be that the solution for the police’s ineffectiveness is arrests without trial and due process.”
I never thought I’d say this, but Gal-On is right.Martin Sherman (www.martinsherman.org) is founder and executive director of the Israel Institute for Strategic Studies (www.strategic-israel.org) .