Israel has been wracked by violence, conscience, and not a little hypocrisy in recent days.
Assailants, widely thought to be extremist Jews, firebombed a Palestinian home in a West Bank village, killing a year old child and severely injuring other family members.
An ultra-Orthodox Jew, recently released from prison for a similar offense, broke into a gay pride march in Jerusalem, stabbed and severely injured several of the participants. The most severely injured, a 16 year old high school student, has died of her wounds.
Both events brought severe condemnation from leading officials and others of high status, and produced protest demonstrations that drew thousands in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, and smaller numbers in Haifa.
Another Knesset Member and a prominent journalist have indicated their membership in the gay community.
International media, the UN Security Council, and numerous political figures highlighted the attack on the Palestinian family. Palestinian and Jordanian officials demanded an international committee of inquiry.
With all the condemnations against both events that are appropriate, hypocrisy was not hard to find.
Daily attacks against Jews in the West Bank, and the stoning of Jerusalem trams as they approach or leave stations in Arab neighborhoods, produce no demands for international commissions of inquiry. The Secretary General of the United Nations speaks against all violence, but has not been as clear in attributing guilt to Palestinian who commit, incite, or endorse violence. If you think this is a balanced statement, you may also believe in pink elephants.
"The Secretary-General strongly condemns today’s murder of a Palestinian child in the West Bank and calls for the perpetrators of this terrorist act to be promptly brought to justice. He expresses his deepest condolences to the family of Ali Dawabsha, who were themselves severely injured in the arson attack. Continued failures to effectively address impunity for repeated acts of settler violence have led to another horrific incident involving the death of an innocent life. This must end.The absence of a political process and Israel’s illegal settlement policy, as well as the harsh and unnecessary practice of demolishing Palestinian houses, have given rise to violent extremism on both sides. This presents a further threat to the legitimate aspirations of the Palestinian people for statehood, as well as to the security of the people of Israel. The Secretary-General urges both sides to take bold steps to return to the path of peace."
Palestinians who are successful in killing Israeli civilians and die as a result, receive honor as martyrs, have public squares and other sites named for them. A substantial portion of what the Palestinian Authority collects as aid from international sources goes to pay monthly pensions to the families of those serving prison sentences for killing Israeli civilians or soldiers.
It's also not hard to find hypocrisy among Israelis who claim to suffer from the violence of others. Left wing activists, including prominent intellectuals, have used the most recent occasions to recite what they have been saying for years, that it is all the fault of right wing governments and settlers. Organizers of the demonstrations in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv refused to allow Knesset Members of the religious party, Jewish Home, to speak against violence unless they signed a statement supporting a gay life style.
Palestinian politicians play in similar ways among themselves. Just as left wing Israelis use the latest events to blame their adversaries, so do Palestinians. Hamas is condemning Fatah and Mahmoud Abbas for cooperation with Israelis, and calling on its people in the West Bank to send suicide bombers against the Jews.
And let's not forget the Muslim claim that Jews never had a Temple in Jerusalem, and justify acts of violence against Jews who visit its site.
With all the condemnations appropriate against the two acts violence, both come from contexts that are not going to disappear.
Jewish extremists who act against Palestinians come from a setting where individuals are convinced that security forces do not do enough to protect them from Palestinian violence. Each side adds to the stimulus of the other. We can condemn them all for their lack of humanity and good sense, without expecting either to disappear.
Estimates are that perhaps less than 100 Jews actually participate in random violence against Arabs, but there are many more who speak out against those who condemn them.
Homosexuality remains a problem for religious Jews, no less than for religious Christians and Muslims. Israel's Chief Rabbi, and Knesset Members of religious parties have spoken against violence without endorsing what is forbidden according to religious law.
Issues of gender and sex are more severe for individuals and family members as one moves rightward along the spectrum beyond Reform and Conservative, and into Orthodox, and ultra-Orthodox Judaism.
The pluralism that has a long history in Judaism allows individuals, and individual rabbis, including some who are Orthodox, to speak out in ways that are not conventional, but it does not solve all the problems of individuals or their families. We hear of gay men and women who have come out of the closet to friends but not to family members, or to some family members but not to others.
Ha'aretz was most explicit in linking the violence to right wing politicians and settlement. Its cartoon showed Frankenstein coming out of a factory labeled Settlement Industry.
Israeli Hayom, Ma'ariv, Yedioth Aharonoth, and Jerusalem Post headlined the violence and demonstrations against it. Media affiliated with religious parties or settlers focused on other issues. The settler media Arutz 7 headlined a complaint by a right of center MK that he required protection when trying to speak at the Tel Aviv rally. The SHAS paper, Yomleom (from day to day), did not mention either act of violence or the demonstrations on its front page. The paper of the Ashkenazi ultra-Orthodox covered the violence and the demonstrations, but also featured an article headlined, "Why cannot the left try to understand Yishai Shlisal (the stabber)?"
Critics have cited the security services for insufficient attention to Jewish terror. More extreme critics have accused the political establishment of fostering Jewish terror, or not showing concern for apprehending the guilty.
Officials complain about the sophistication of Jewish extremists, and the lack of access to their cells. The excuse appears weak for an organization that has penetrated activists across the boundaries of language, religion, and culture, within Israel, Gaza, and the West Bank, and further afield.. Security services tap informants among Palestinians to identify those involved in violence, often within hours of an incident.
If the problem derives from unequal resources devoted to the Arab and Jewish sectors, the imbalance reflects the incidence of violence from both sources.
Recent events suggest greater concern for terror among Jews. It did not take long for authorities to apprehend individuals who kidnapped and killed an Arab youth from a Jerusalem neighborhood in 2014, or those who torched a historic Christian Church alongside the Sea of Galilee earlier this year.
It hasn't been a normal few days, but they haven't been all that different from the general picture hereabouts.