Eisenbud's Odyssey: Machine guns and teddy bears

Perhaps the most telling and disturbing example of the profound cultural and moral incongruity between Israelis and Hamas came after the rockets stopped being fired, and each respective society tended to its children.

Hamas children 370 (photo credit: REUTERS)
Hamas children 370
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Much like the rest of the world, I was haunted by the massacre of 20 children and six adults in Newtown, Connecticut, on December 14, at the hands of Adam Lanza, a severely mentally ill young man who clearly embraced and romanticized murder.
It was a horrific tragedy – the likes of which will indelibly scar the United States, and rightly resulted in unprecedented unity to protect and nurture the nation’s most valuable and vulnerable population: children.
For me, and millions of others living in Israel, though, the parallels between that sick young man, whose actions shocked the world, and Hamas – which does everything in its power to raise tens of thousands of Adam Lanzas – were all too familiar.
However, the critical distinction between Lanza and Palestinian terrorists is that Lanza was evidently taught right from wrong, doted on – even spoiled – by loving, well-educated parents, yet was clinically disturbed.
Conversely, the vast majority of Palestinians who commit similar acts of brutality do not share Lanza’s clinical ailments, but rather are taught to become mass murderers through a perverse, culturally enforced indoctrination system, overseen by their own parents and teachers.
Indeed, their hate is passed along through their mothers’ milk, then reinforced in school, making such institutionalized barbarity far more insidious than an errant mad man doing the unthinkable.
PERHAPS THE most illustrative example of this homicidal conditioning – of the profound moral incongruity between our two worlds – came after the rockets stopped being fired following eight days of hellish war, and our respective societies tended to our children, many of whom were thoroughly traumatized by the mind-numbing violence.
As Samuel Heilman, distinguished professor of sociology at Queens College, powerfully pointed out in a November 27 op-ed piece published in The Jerusalem Post, after Operation Pillar of Defense, the “therapy” provided to the children of each region was jaw-droppingly different.
And telling.
Extrapolating from a BBC radio interview with a female Gazan teacher, Heilman wrote the following: “To allow them to express their feelings, the little children were taken to a public square and lined up. Some were dressed in the green uniform of Hamas fighters and were ‘armed’ with toy machine guns that they were encouraged to shoot in the air at Israelis.”
He continues: “Then an Israeli flag was placed on the ground in front of them and set ablaze while all the youngsters stamped on it and screamed epithets of hatred toward Israel and Israelis, with the encouragement of their teachers, as passersby in the square watched.”
This act, the Gazan teacher concluded, allowed the children to “give voice to their feelings so that they would not remain bottled up inside.”
Heilman then related the aforementioned interview with a story in the Post detailing children from Israel’s nearby southern Hof Ashkelon region, who were “welcomed by a clown and a man dressed as a panda bear who hugged them and danced with them...in order to ‘lighten up the atmosphere.’”
Heilman concluded the following: “In these episodes, we can see the future. For the children of Gaza it is one in which hatred of the Israeli supersedes all else. For the children of Israel, it is a need to be taught again to smile, however briefly, in the face of trauma.
“As long as the dream of a Palestinian boy is to join a brigade whose only goal is to lob bombs and rockets at Israelis and to die as his father did doing the same thing – or Palestinian youngsters heal themselves by pretending to shoot Israelis and expressing loathing for them – there is neither hope for peace, nor the likelihood of a decent future for the Palestinian people.”
THIS JUXTAPOSITION should – and must – speak volumes to a generally indifferent and hypocritical international community that cannot begin to imagine the gravity and depravity of battling tens of thousands of trained Adam Lanzas, in perpetuity.
Of battling terrorists.
Hamas, the elected government of Gaza, has made it a cultural norm and mandate to propagate a definitively virulent and corrosive society, defined by psychopathically homicidal intolerance and uncompromising hatred.
Most shamefully, they have made sure this ethos is indelibly conditioned into the minds of their children.
The inescapable question, then, becomes: How should Israelis deal with an enemy that not only raises its children to deify mass murder against them, but then sacrifices them as human shields – as media props – to conjure perhaps the most maddeningly evil form of propaganda ever conceived?
As World War II and the ongoing battle against al-Qaida and other Muslim extremists have taught us in no uncertain terms, the only way to win a war against such an incomprehensibly evil enemy is to cut them down one by one – until they cease to exist, or finally renounce their contemptible ideologies.
Until no more Newtown massacres can happen again.
YET ISRAEL is expected to “negotiate” with the very same monsters that other Western nations have made their mandate to destroy to prevent them from continuing to attempt mass murder against their children and civilians.
Therefore, the final question the world needs to ask is this: How does one negotiate with an army of deranged, trained killers? With evil personified?
The answer is simple: You don’t.
It's an obscene double standard that Israel is expected to do that which no other nation should, or would.
In the end, the prescient words of Golda Meir remain true, and will continue to haunt us all: “We can forgive the Arabs for killing our children. We cannot forgive them for forcing us to kill their children. We will have peace with the Arabs when they love their children more than they hate us.”
Indeed, when all is said and done, the ultimate judgment of a society – of its place in history – is predicated on how it raises, protects and nurtures its children. The future itself.
Nothing else matters, and horrors such as the Newtown massacre will remain an ongoing reality in Israel until Palestinian children cease to be trained to become remorseless, hate-infused mass murderers.
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Reader’s note: Eisenbud’s Odyssey, formerly published in The Jerusalem Post Magazine, will now be published biweekly in the op-ed section of the newspaper.