An absence of morality

The Palestinians, as a people, appear not to see suicide bombings as acts of barbarism.

teen bomber 88 (photo credit: )
teen bomber 88
(photo credit: )
It is hard to imagine a people for whom blowing oneself up in a crowd of innocents is not considered an act of barbarism. Yet it is hard to escape the impression that the Palestinians, even today, remain such a people. This clearly was the case at the height of the terror offensive against Israel, during which suicide bombings were officially and unofficially lionized by Palestinian society. But how else is one to interpret the antiseptic Palestinian response to yesterday's atrocity in Netanya, in which five were murdered and 55 wounded? "I believe that this harms Palestinian interests and is another act to sabotage efforts to revive the peace process and to sabotage the Palestinian elections," said Saeb Erekat, giving the official reaction to the attack. But is it wrong? Is there anything morally wrong with slaughtering innocent Israelis? The recent Palestinian political jockeying has, unfortunately, only reinforced the sense that the relative lull in terrorism is not related to any second thoughts as to its morality. Marwan Barghouti, who is serving multiple life terms in an Israeli jail for his direct involvement in specific terrorist attacks, and who is widely considered a key architect of the "militarization" (a term that itself reflects the Palestinian sanitization of terrorism) of the attacks against Israel, was the big winner of the first Fatah primaries. Similarly, Hamas is expected to do so well in the parliamentary elections scheduled in January that PA leader Mahmoud Abbas is widely expected to postpone them indefinitely. It is certainly possible that the political tailwind Barghouti and Hamas are enjoying has more to do with the unpopularity of the PA, either because of corruption or the general chaos, than it does with popular support for terrorism. But we Israelis can hardly ignore the fact that the most popular Palestinian groups and individuals seem to be those most associated with terror against Israel. In the rest of the world, particularly since the withdrawal from Gaza, there seems to be a slight increase in sympathy for Israel's position. But even in our current post-9/11 day and age, after suicide terrorism has proven not to be just Israel's problem, there is a barely-veiled acceptance of the equation of "occupation" and terror, and therefore of the right of the Palestinians to "resist" as they wish. There are many realities that should have broken this equation long ago. Israel has repeatedly proven its support for a two-state solution, while the Palestinians have repeatedly demonstrated - signed agreements aside - their refusal to accept their own state if that means accepting Israel's right to exist. But even more fundamentally, the Palestinian refusal to break with terrorism is not just an assertion of a right to oppose Israel but an expression of the true objective of that struggle. Put simply, genocidal means are an inseparable sign of genocidal ends. The notion that Palestinians arrogate to themselves the right to impose and execute a death sentence on any and every Israeli man, woman and child says to us that, in Palestinian eyes, we have no right to exist. What the president of Iran and the leaders of Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and Hizbullah say openly - that Israel should be "wiped off the map" - the terror attacks clearly attempt to put into practice. To this, the world responds, we must redouble our support for Palestinian "moderates" who are the only bulwark against our genocidal enemies. But how much support can these "moderates" expect from us when they cannot muster the slightest objection to terrorism in principle, not just in practice? As it turns out, the Palestinian descent into barbarism has turned on that society doubly: both in that they are now dominated by the same armed gangs that attack Israel, and in the form of the recent terror attacks in Jordan, a country whose majority considers itself Palestinian. Yet there remains a stark contrast between the protests in Jordan against those attacks - perhaps the first mass popular outcry against terrorism in an Arab country - and the still common moral Palestinian acceptance of terror against Israel. If the Palestinian public feels moral revulsion at the terror perpetrated in its name, it has yet to make that condemnation plain.