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The Moral Gulf

The Moral Gulf

Here is the difference between Israel and its Arab enemies.

by Jonathan Kay

Here, in a nutshell, is the difference between Israel and the terror-worshiping cultures that besiege it. When terrorists kill Israeli women and children with bombs or missiles, they regard it as a triumph worthy of celebration; sweets are passed out; the terrorists themselves are venerated as martyrs. When Israeli soldiers deliberately kill Arab women and children, on the other hand, most Israelis regard it as a disgusting aberration, and a legal investigation is launched.

Last week, the director of an Israeli military institute leaked unproven testimonials from soldiers who claimed they'd engaged in -- or been urged to engage in -- reckless and inhumane tactics during the recent Gaza campaign. In one instance, it was claimed a sniper had shot an elderly woman. In another, an Israeli gunman was alleged to have killed a woman and two children. All four of the victims, the testimonials allege, were killed because they approached Israeli positions or violated Israeli battlefield orders, despite the fact they posed no military threat. Other accounts leaked from the same military institute, all taken from a taped discussion among Gaza war veterans, feature claims that Israel had recklessly destroyed Gazan property; and that rabbis had distributed unsettling propaganda to the soldiers prior to Israel's incursion.

None of the accounts have been verified. But no one should be surprised if some turn out to be true. No army -- even one serving a humane, democratic nation such as Israel, tragically well-practiced in the art of counter-terrorism -- is staffed by unbroken legions of angels. There are always bad apples. Thousands of Israeli soldiers fought in Gaza in late 2008 and early 2009. No doubt, a few of them fell under some of the lunatic impulses that have been known to grip soldiers in times of war. (We should be far more skeptical of the related claim that Israeli units actually were commanded to maraud Gazan civilians and their homes. If that were true, the civilian death toll in Gaza would have been orders of magnitude higher than it actually was.)

What is more remarkable is how this all has been handled in Israel itself. As soon as the allegations surfaced, Israel's military advocate general launched an investigation. As with the United States following Abu Ghraib in Iraq, and Canada following the Airborne Regiment scandal in Somalia, the sadists will be identified and, where justified, punished. Israel is an open society in which ordinary soldiers often discuss their combat experiences in op-ed articles, blogs and radio programs. Indeed, this whole story was originally broken by Israeli newspapers. The prospect of a cover-up is remote.

Nevertheless, we all know how Israel's enemies and critics will play this news. From the opening days of the Gazan campaign, the blood-libels of "massacre" and "genocide" have flown thick and fast. From the moment this story appeared on the front-page of Thursday's New York Times, it was obvious that the Israel-Apartheid crowd had found its latest talking point.

Well, here's another talking point worth considering. In April, 1979, a Lebanese terrorist by the name of Samir Kuntar murdered a 31-year-old Israeli father and his 4-year-old daughter -- dispatching the latter by smashing her head against a rock. (A 2-year-old sister also died -- from suffocation, as her mother tried to quiet the toddler's screams so as not to alert Kuntar to their presence.) Kuntar's crimes are now 30 years old. But recent events suggest they remain instructive to this day: Last year, after spending three decades in an Israeli jail for the killings, the murderer was sent back to Lebanon in exchange for the remains of two Israeli soldiers. Upon his return, Arabs greeted Kuntar with confetti and applause. The head of Al Jazeera's Beirut office called the man a "pan-Arab hero," and feted him at a special party. A few months later, in Nov. 2008, the Syrian president gave Kuntar his country's highest medal.

Such a sick spectacle could never unfold in Israel, of course: In the case of the soldiers alleged last week to have killed Gazan civilians, the reaction from Israelis has been what one would expect in a civilized culture that values human life: outrage, disgust, and a legal investigation. It is this contrast -- not the isolated outrages alleged to have been performed by Israeli soldiers -- that tell us all we need to know about the moral gulf between the Jewish state and its terrorist enemies.

This article originally appeared in the National Post.

March 22, 2009

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Visitor Comments: 20

(20) Wassim, April 1, 2009 5:18 PM

#19 - one Arab's response

"By it's behavior the Arab has lost the right to humane treatment because it has left the human family"... really? and the spanish (re: inquisition) and the russians (re: pogroms) and the germans (re: holocaust) are still in that wonderful family? The same wonderful family that talks about saving the resilient planet while turning a blind eye to human poverty. The same wonderful family that for thousands of years has glorified the soldier, the warrior, the killing machine. It's always been a sick family if you ask me. I'm pro Israel, but I'm Arab too, and I won't lose any sleep over being an outcast from such a family almost drowning in its sickness. "Arab has simply lost its status as a human being and must be subjected to a different kind of treatment"... what? You'd do the same thing to any enemy regardless whether they were Arab or not. And where's your Torah-guided higher understanding of the human condition. Can't some Arabs be friendly to Israel, is that impossible for you to hope for? I think you're being too harsh and using the word "Arab" instead of "militant palestinian".

(19) David S. Levine, March 30, 2009 4:00 PM

Article is Ideal, BUT...

Golda Meir once said that the worst thing the Arabs have don is to make so many Israelis (and by extension other Jews) think violent thoughts like them. I'm afraid I'm one of them who has so moved away from the ideals of the article. By it's behavior the Arab has lost the right to humane treatment because it has left the human family. Whether it's firing rockets into Israel, murdering Senator Robert Kennedy (not one of my heroes) or the "nonviolent" act of closing a music program in Samaria because its students played at a Holocaust concert the Arab has simply lost its status as a human being and must be subjected to a different kind of treatment. Sad to have to say but the present condition unfortunately merits it. Far from building confidence in a future of peace the Arab has shown it only believes in murder.

(18) Seamus MacNemi, March 29, 2009 9:19 PM

Hypocracy indeed

As a getile I am sick of listening to antisemites complain about being called for what they are. I grew up with their nonsensical babble and I've heard it in all of its various forms from the blood liabel to the world Jewish conspiracy and if I can't recognise a lie when I see it then I must be blind. I know only too well the motivations that lie behind such bahavior: Laziness, jealousy, greed and larceny and the worst of all human faults, ignorance and fear.

(17) Mike Lampard, March 29, 2009 12:01 PM

Let every voice raised against Israel be proved to be in the wrong.

I regard Israel as the kind of state where I would like to live. I abhor the critics and enemies of Israel, as, not only are they vindictive, they also rely for their opposition on lies and deceipt. Israel has a right to defend itself as vogorously as it knows how. When Hamas and Hizbollah try to liquidate israel, then Israel fights. People get hurt. That is the responsibility of Israel''s enemies, not Israel itself. I do wonder why idiots who oppose isrwel do not understand this. It is simple, really.

(16) Shaun Camilleri, March 29, 2009 9:27 AM

The Article is right

Where is this so called United Nations condemnation when the Arabs do wrong? Why does this organisation treat them with kid gloves? It is an evil organisation under a grand name.

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