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Israel Is Losing The Moral High Ground
Wed, 07/09/2014

The deeply upsetting news from Israel this week that several Jewish extremists are being held in connection with the murder of a Palestinian teenager should not be as shocking as it has been for many, particularly in this country.

For years now there have been very small but dangerously extremist Jewish groups in Israel preaching, and at times carrying out, threats against the Palestinian population. Some were known as The Hilltop Youth, living in isolated Jewish communities in the West Bank and increasingly confrontational with the Israeli army and security forces as well. These and other young people have been associated with “price tag” acts, ranging from racist graffiti to vandalism to violent encounters in retribution for Palestinian — or IDF — acts against the settlements. Some attribute this sense of alienation among young people to the fact that their rabbis preached that the Israeli pullout of Gaza in 2005 would never happen. Disillusioned, they have acted out against the army as well as against Palestinians.

In addition, there have been accusations that Israel’s Border Police are a particularly thuggish group, handling demonstrations with an iron hand. Now, with footage of a teenage American Palestinian cousin of the murdered boy being beaten severely by Israeli policemen, the issue of excessive force is there for all the world to see.

To be clear: we are not equating the behavior of Israeli Jews to that of their Palestinian neighbors. Far from it. As Prime Minister Netanyahu made clear in his remarks on Sunday, the Jewish reaction to the murder of the Palestinian teen was one of revulsion and embarrassment. Statements condemning the act in the harshest terms were immediate, heartfelt and outspoken. This is not the Jewish way — that message rang out from Jerusalem and was echoed among countless Jewish organizations and rabbis around the world with passion and eloquence.

Where large numbers of Arab officials and religious leaders continue to preach hatred of Jews and praise and celebrate violent acts, even against Jewish civilians, including children, Jews mourn the deaths of all innocents.

But not all Jews, we were reminded this week.

And the murder of Muhammad Abu Khdeir, burned alive after being whisked away from his neighborhood, is cause for deep and honest self-reflection. “We need to face up to the fact that our ongoing rule over Palestinians, apart from endangering Israel as a Jewish democracy, is corroding us, blackening our hearts,” wrote The Times of Israel editor David Horovitz in an essay called “A Sobering Moment For Complacent Israel.”

In the Orthodox community, Rabbi Binyamin (Benny) Lau, a widely respected voice of tolerance, this week was planning to organize a day of prayer and fasting on Friday at his Ramban Synagogue in Jerusalem. He told us his goal was to have rabbis from the settlements among those participating in an effort to help “break the division between right and left.” (See Editor’s column, page 7.)

Next Tuesday is the Fast of Tammuz, which marks the beginning of the Three Weeks, an annual period of sober reflection in the Jewish calendar, culminating with Tisha b’Av, which commemorates the destruction of the Temple in ancient times. But Rabbi Lau said the urgency of the situation could not wait to combine a service marking the death of the Palestinian boy with the Fast of Tammuz.

It is that sense of immediacy that should shake us out of our self-satisfaction. As editor Horovitz noted: “They started it? They’re worse. They all hate us? Well, maybe they did, and maybe they are, and maybe they do. But those arguments don’t help us. Those are not arguments that are going to save our society.”

editor@jewishweek.org

 

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Sure u condemned The Killing of The arab boy But when Israel searched for The 3 kidnapped Israel boys they destroyed The homes of Palestine people as revenge . No Israel homes got destroyed when you arested The murders of The arab boy . And im sure those murders eill be releaed in like most 10 years . Couse. As i see it u have one way of see an Israel Criminals and another way of see an Palestine one.
Im no fan of Hamas i Think they are a bunch of murdering thugs . But when u have Israel people that sit up on Hills and cheer when 1000 of children and civilian peple in Gaza get killed u need to start to wounder What kind of people u foster in Israel today .

You are right that there is no moral equivalence between Israel and the Palestinians. Palestinians are defending their homes or trying to get back homes that were stolen from them by Zionists. Israel exists on stolen land. The Zionists justify this on the basis that Palestine is the original homeland of the Jews. This ignores the fact that the Hebrews originated in what is now Iraq, migrated to Canaan, slaughtered the inhabitants, pillaged the cities, and destroyed all the indigenous religious symbols -- just as Al Qaeda did recently when it destroyed ancient Buddhist statues. The Hebrews were a gang of murdering, plundering tent-dwellers. The Jewish religion encourages this kind of monstrous behavior by teaching that the Jew's are some kind "chosen people" by their great war-god Jehovah. Fortunately, the world is waking up to the truth about Zionism and, in my opinion, Israel's days are definitely numbered. Perhaps one day the Jews will settle down and live like normal people. But I tend to doubt it, because they do seem to love to stir up trouble.

We do not want the type of "normal" that you Kevin like, we think your type of "normal" is "abnormal".
Please try to understand this.
If hamas was smart they would choose life. They are digging themselves into the ground, literally.

Kevin,
Detachment from reality and mental disorder are not an excuse. Take your meds.

So if Israelis and Jews are so horrid, why would you be reading articles on this site? So you can spew your hatred? Take it somewhere else where the truth doesn't matter.

where in the Arab world, and in fact in the White House, was the same level of condemnation of the killing of three Jewish boys? The callousness of the White House towards the deaths of these Yeshiva boys should have been your editorial, not some ghetto Jew sob story of how "terrible" we are.

Every day I feel the pain of the times in my life when I was nasty, violent, jealous, insensitive, and altogether, a bad person. I never forget those moments; they always hurt. Nevertheless, I wake up every day with the hope and intention of being a good, compassionate person. I try, but I am human.
I have no doubt that every Jew in the world was mortified by the torture and murder of the Arab boy. You are right about losing the moral high ground. But Jews are human. We make mistakes; commit crimes. As soon as I heard about the murder, I knew the heinous crime would be condemned by Jews around the world. I am proud of that. Jews want to be good people. But the missile attacks on Israel's territory continue. Israelis will have to wake up tomorrow and defend their land, trying to be good people. No doubt Jews should hold themselves to the highest standards, but there is also no doubt that serious, ugly lapses will occur.

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