Into the Fray: The bitter fruits of Israeli self-flagellation

Moralistic self-recrimination plays into the hands of Israel’s worse detractors, and the bitter fruits of Israeli self-flagellation are beginning to ripen.

Israeli policemen stand near a checkpoint close to the West Bank settlement of Otniel (photo credit: REUTERS)
Israeli policemen stand near a checkpoint close to the West Bank settlement of Otniel
(photo credit: REUTERS)
There is no[t] any difference between ISIS and this Jewish group that was lately arrested. They are exactly com[ing] with the same agenda, with the same beliefs. The only difference is that they are Jewish, and they are Arab/Muslims.Carmi Gillon, former head of the Shin Bet, Jerusalem Press Club, January 17, 2016
Enslaving the families of the kuffar [infidels] and taking their women as concubines is a firmly established aspect of the Shari’a... that if anyone were to deny or mock, he would be denying or mocking the verses of the Koran and the narrations of the Prophet. –
from ISIS’s English magazine Dabiq, in “ISIS soldiers told to rape women ‘to make them Muslim’” – CNN, October 8, 2015
State Department’s silence deafening after US citizens engage in Israeli settler violence. The silence of the US government when American citizens are actively engaged in anti-Palestinian terrorism suggests that we condemn Islamist terror while condoning Jewish terror. – Richard Silverstein, MintPress News, January 6, 2016
ISIS has executed more than 10,000 men, women and children in Iraq and Syria since June 2014.... In reality the death toll from ISIS’s murderous campaign is evidently even higher than the already shocking statistics suggest.
– International Business Times, September 24, 2015
On January 17, 38-year-old Dafna Meir, a nurse and mother of six, was stabbed to death by a Palestinian terrorist in front of her teenage daughter, at their home in Otniel, a small Jewish community, south of Hebron.
With excruciatingly bad timing, on the very same day, the former head of Shin Bet, Carmi Gillon, chose to equate acts of Jewish ‘hilltop’ renegades, not only with the current wave of lethal Arab terrorism, but with the gory agenda of ISIS.
Widespread umbrage and outrage
According to Gillon, “The only difference is that they are Jewish and they are Arab/Muslims.”
Many Israelis were deeply offended, even outraged, by the suggestion that there is any hint of equivalence between the two.
This certainly seems to be the sentiment among Jerusalem Post readers. Thus, in a caustic letter to the editor (January 19), reader Ze’ev Shandalov reproaches Gillon for having “the unmitigated gall to make such a statement,” charging that it should earn him “damning condemnation from all sectors.” He asks, not without justification: “How many Jewish terrorists have massacred hundreds of Yazidis? How many Jewish terrorists have dropped gays to their deaths from tall buildings? How many Jewish terrorists have put a bullet in the head of their mother in a public execution?” and concludes, “Gillon’s comments are repugnant, sickening and loathsome, and should be roundly condemned by anyone who has any sense of morality.”
Shandalov was not alone in his indignation. In another letter to the editor, J.W. Krasner points out: “ISIS is for brutal public beheadings, the rape and enslavement of women, and mass punishment and exile for thousands,” asking with evident exasperation: “How can anyone mention Jewish terrorists in the same breath? Where is the gravitas and temperance that should accompany past heroes as they age?” The talkback responses to Gillon’s talk in the Post’s Internet edition, headlined, “Jewish terrorists more harmful to world Jewry than Arab counterparts,” were almost uniformly condemnatory of his inference of equivalence.
Mindless, misleading comparison
Just how staggeringly mindless and misleading Gillon’s comparison is should be clear from the catalogue of carnage, perpetrated by various Islamist organizations such as ISIS, Hamas and Hezbollah.
Clearly, ISIS, with which Gillon equates with the Jewish price-tag/hilltop radicals, is the bloodiest of all – with a billion-dollar budget and a deadly reach stretching across the globe, from the eastern fringes of the Levant and the Arabian Peninsula, through Western Europe (Paris) and across the Atlantic Ocean and the American continent to California’s San Bernardino – see “Recent Attacks Demonstrate Islamic State’s Ability to Both Inspire and Coordinate Terror,” New York Times, January 14.
Indeed, the shocking fatality figures cited in the opening excerpts (from the International Business Times) only partially convey the full extent of the gruesome picture.
As the report admits, it “doesn’t account for thousands more victims... who have been killed in suicide bombings and captives fleeing the horrors of life in Raqqa... It also excludes the slaughter of 5,000 Yazidi people in Iraq’s Sinjar province last August who were shot down by ISIS fighters...”
There is of course not the vaguest similarity between the scope of savagery, the capabilities or global ambitions of jihadist Islamist terrorism and the few score Jewish youth, who according to Gillon, live in remote caves, have no organizational structure and operate without cellphones.
Killing Jews ‘only human’?
But one need not invoke ISIS to illustrate how absurd any purported equivalence between alleged Jewish “terror” and Arab terrorism is. For that, a cursory glance at the grim statistics of the recent wave of Judeocidal Arab violence is sufficient.
Since the end of July, when the arson in Duma, supposedly perpetrated by a Jewish radical (or radicals), and which took the lives of three Arabs, there has not been a single Arab harmed – never mind killed – by any act of Jewish ideologically motivated crime.
In stark contrast, since mid-September, due to institutionalized incitement from official Palestinian organs, 30 Israelis have been killed at the hands of Arabs, and 10 times that number injured (almost 30 seriously), in 170 separate attacks – over 100 of them stabbings.
This, of course, is in no way merely a spontaneous expression of individual grievance, induced by years of “occupation,” as apparently UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon would have us believe, when he seemed to insinuate that killing Jews was only human: “It is human nature to react to occupation, which often serves as a potent incubator of hate and extremism.” (Security Council session on the situation in the Middle East, January 26)
Institutionalized Judeocidal incitement
It would be intriguing indeed to learn what “occupation” he would invoke as an “incubator” for the staggering scope of fratricidal, intra-Islamic “hate and extremism” in Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Libya, Sudan, Afghanistan and Pakistan, to name but few blood-drenched loci within the occupation-free Muslim world.
Indeed, to dispel any illusion that the current wave of attacks is the spontaneous, undirected response of aggrieved individuals, let me, once again, draw attention to the recent analysis of “lone wolf” terrorism in the Post (November 1, 2015) by Prof. Boaz Ganor, head of the International Institute for Counter-Terrorism in Herzliya.
In it, he describes the “institutional incitement and training” underpinning the phenomenon: “The Palestinian terrorist organizations... stepped up their incitement on the Web and published instructions on how the attackers could be more effective.”
Ganor adds: “The instructions are usually accompanied by video clips with recommendations on the kind of knives to use, where to stab the victims, from which angle to attack and so on. In some instances, the terrorist organizations suggest attacking in pairs or in larger groups, seizing rifles from prospective military victims and opening fire in all directions.”
He states, quite unequivocally: Israel is in the throes of a nationalist and religion-driven wave of terror fueled by incitement...,” noting that the “mainstream voice was the catalyst that drove inflamed young people into the streets... randomly killing Israelis.”
There is, of course, no equivalent phenomenon in the Jewish mainstream, making any moralistic self-incrimination, over some nonexistent parallel, wildly inappropriate – and needlessly detrimental.
Jewish graffiti is terrorism; lethal Arab stones are not?
But things get even worse.
The day before Gillon’s talk, Jerusalem’s Dormition Abbey, a Benedictine monastery on Mount Zion, just outside the walls of the Old City, was defaced by crudely anti-Christian and admittedly reprehensible graffiti in Hebrew. No one was harmed in the incident. Yet in referring to it, Gillon informed his audience of foreign journalists that “the sabotage of the church in Dormition [Abbey]... in my eyes, is a terror act.”
But when it came to Arabs hurling stones intended to kill or main Jews, he remarked: “Speaking about Palestinians who threw stones, the Shin Bet doesn’t deal with that. This is not a terror act.”
Some might find this diagnosis astonishing.
After all, stones thrown at Jews by Arabs, merely because they were Jewish, have resulted in a number of fatalities – most of them of young children.
Thus, Haaretz reported:
- “The 64-year-old Israeli, Alexander Levlovitz, died and two passengers were hurt after attackers pelted their car with rocks in Jerusalem.” (September 14, 2015)
- “Adele Biton, the four-year-old child who was critically injured in a stone-throwing incident near the settlement of Ariel two years ago, died in Petah Tikva’s Schneider Hospital...Her mother and two sisters were moderately injured in the attack.” (February 17, 2015)
- “Fatal West Bank car crash caused by Palestinian stone-throwing. Israel Police confirm Kiryat Arba crash that killed Israeli father [Asher Palmer, 25] and infant son [Yonatan, one] was [a] terror attack despite initial IDF report claiming crash was an accident. (September 25, 2011)
- “Yehuda Shoham was aged five months [and died when] his skull was fractured by Palestinians who pelted his parents’ car with rocks near Luban as they drove home.” (August 24, 2001)
So non-lethal Hebrew graffiti is an “act of terror,” while lethal rocks, launched with the intent to murder or maim Jews, are not?
What is wrong with this picture?
‘Jewish terrorists are more dangerous for Israel than Hamas…’
But perhaps the most disconcerting remark from Gillon was this: “Those Jewish terrorists, they are more dangerous for the State of Israel than the Hamas and the Palestinians terror groups... Hezbollah and so on.... The sabotage of that small Jewish group would make, for the State of Israel, is much more dangerous.”
In many ways, this proclamation is as breathtaking as it is bewildering. For although similar allegations have been bandied about liberally of late, no one actually seems able to stipulate the mechanism by which that great danger will be precipitated, other than by speculating about future intentions, which the meager band of sparsely scattered nomads, whose most formidable weapon hitherto has been, allegedly, a box of matches and a bottle of inflammable liquid, are clearly incapable of perpetrating.
Clearly, I do not wish to downplay the repercussions of the anger an attack attributed to Jews on a sensitive non-Jewish target might generate. However, it is difficult to see how such an attack, given the paltry resources available today (or in the foreseeable future) to price-tag/hilltop renegades, could be, in anyway, comparable to the damage Arab terrorist organizations can wreak on the country and its citizens.
Is that threat comparable to the threat posed by Hezbollah? With an estimated 100,000 rockets/missiles (compared to around 14,000 in 2006, which kept over a million Israelis huddled in shelters for weeks), along with unmanned aircraft, antitank weapons, antiaircraft and land-to-sea missiles that it possesses today, Hezbollah terrorists are likely to rain up to 1,200 projectiles a day down on Israeli civilians .
Much the same could be asked about Hamas in the south, with the rapid replenishment of its rockets and the renewed tunnel activity increasingly evident...
Or the growing ISIS-affiliated jihadist insurgency in Sinai, pressing against the long southern border, threatening to cut off land access to Eilat...
Jewish “terror” more dangerous than Arab terrorism? Really?
The bitter fruits of self-flagellation
In the past I argued against artificially inflating the threat posed by a marginal, and marginalized, band of radical Jewish renegades. Portraying Israel as a threatened society, teetering on the brink of becoming a theocratic, tyrannical monarchy, is as misplaced as it is misleading.
I urged against attempts to draw any equivalence between Arab terrorism and the terrorist organizations that promote/perpetrate/ propagate it, and the groups of Jewish theo-ideological extremists. I cautioned against blurring the very real distinction that exists between them, and of the detrimental consequences that drawing inappropriate parallels might entail for Israel. After all, how can Israel hope to invoke international sympathy or solidarity in its struggle against Arab/Muslim terrorism – and international understanding for the policies it requires to contend with it – if it, itself, is guilty of harboring equivalent malfeasance? I warned that moralistic self-recrimination plays into the hands of Israel’s worse detractors, and as the introductory excerpt from the bitterly inimical Richard Silverstein shows, the bitter fruits of Israeli self-flagellation are beginning to ripen.
Remarks like those of Carmi Gillon can only increase the noxious harvest. They will be pounced on by those bent on harming Israel. As such, it – and he – will have done Israel a great disservice.
Martin Sherman ( is the founder and executive director of the Israel Institute for Strategic Studies.