Tuesday, July 08, 2014

“Very, Very Difficult”

I recognize that I must write, but it’s difficult to know what to say. For what I – and to a person those I deal with and relate to here - would have considered impossible has allegedly happened: Jewish boys have killed an Arab teenager in a horrendous fashion.
I know only what news reports are feeding us.  In spite of my best efforts, I have accessed no inside information.  Six boys have been arrested.  At least one has allegedly confessed and implicated others.  Reportedly there has been some description of the murder.
People are asking me how this could have happened, but I cannot answer.  Indeed, I ask myself.
From where I sit, there are still too many unknowns and we’re still too early into the legal process.  The boys – at least some of whom are minors of 16, and none of whom have been named - do have lawyers from an organization called Honenu.  I am not certain that the lawyers have even seen them yet – yesterday one of the lawyers said they still had to look at the evidence.  There have been no indictments yet.  Which does not mean there won’t be.
But I and my associates continue to wait to hear more about the unraveling of this situation.
What has thrown us so – what had us breathless with astonishment – is that this feels so much a not-Jewish way to do things.  And, at the same time, the method of murdering the boy, which involved burning him while he was still alive, falls within the norm of Islam.  The very best information we have on the victim is that he was a homosexual.  And within Islamic culture, this is the greatest of sins, meriting death.  As I wrote recently, it’s written in Islamic law – that burning alive is an appropriate (indeed the preferred) means of executing homosexuals.
And all of a sudden we’re being told that six boys did this for “nationalistic” reasons.”  Why this boy? Why this method of killing him?  Purely out of a “nationalistic” revenge motivation? We don’t have answers now.  I do not know if we ever will.  There are those who will say that they picked this boy, and did it this way precisely so that Arabs would be suspect.  I don’t know.  But in the end we will have to accept and live with the realities, or, more accurately, as close to reality as we can get – however it grieves us.
The latest news on the boys is that they have been involved with “criminal activity” (of what sort is unclear) in the past, and are being sent for psychiatric examinations.
There are several significant issues of great concern that follow in the wake of this tragedy. 
First are the accusations of “moral equivalency” that are being leveled at Israel now – sometimes with a self-righteous tone on the part of those making the charges:  See. see what these Jews are capable of, exactly what the Arabs do. 
But this is a libel, a false accusation of the greatest calumny.  When the three Jewish boys were kidnapped, there were candies passed out in Arab communities.  The mother of one of those presumed to be a kidnapper said, “If it turns out he did it, I will be very proud of him.”
Here there has been breast-beating, and stunned grieving that such a thing could have happened.
Netanyahu put it very well:
“I know that in our society, the society of Israel, there is no place for such murderers. And that’s the difference between us and our neighbors. They consider murderers to be heroes. They name public squares after them. We don’t. We condemn them and we put them on trial and we’ll put them in prison.” (Emphasis added)
Our prime minister, in fact, expressed condolences by phone to the parents of the murdered Arab boy.  Can you imagine Abbas or any of his ilk doing the same in reverse?  Other officials and the Jewish families mourning the loss of their sons did the same.
Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon declared himself "ashamed and shocked by the cruel murder of the teenager Muhammad Abu Khader...
"these despicable murderers do not represent the Jewish people and its values...”
Moral equivalency?  Not on your life.  
If you wish to help Israel, fight these charges of moral equivalency wherever and however you can.
Then we have the rioting mobs of Israeli Arabs inside of Israel.  Ostensibly they have been rioting because of the murder of the boy, but I see it as an excuse for violence.  Period. Without justification.
Arab rioting in Jerusalem
Credit: Flash90
They forced the closing of roads and pelted buses.  They destroyed property and used firebombs.
Police arrested a good number of people and used mob control techniques, but there are very serious questions about how to deal with these rioting Arabs – and much criticism that they are being handled with insufficient firmness.
They cannot and must not be permitted to disrupt our society. The feeling, my friends, of being besieged from within by people who truly hate us is not a pleasant one, I assure you.
The significant point here is that we’re talking about people who are Israeli citizens.  Said Netanyahu (emphasis added):
"There's no place in the State of Israel for those who throw rocks at police; there's no place for those who throw Molotov cocktails; there's no place for those who block roads or damage property
"You can't enjoy social security payments and child subsidies on one hand and on the other hand violate the most basic laws of the State of Israel."
There have been suggestions made about removing the citizenship of some and/or deporting them to Gaza.  I mention it here but will return to this if and as appropriate.  It is difficult not to feel bitter about being accused of being “apartheid,” when we have in our midst persons with full rights who wish us ill.
I must turn now to the final, very significant issue: That of the rockets from Gaza and the question of our going in for a serious military operation.
As I wrote last, the barrage of rockets has continued.  Our Air Force started going into Gaza again, after remaining quiet for a period of time on Friday, in order to respond to rocket launchings – taking out a couple of Islamic Jihad terrorists in the process. 
And yet, to the despair of many including yours truly, Netanyahu did not order a major action.  What seems apparent from my perspective is that the barrage continued because Israel is seen as weak. While Netanyahu, for his part, is behaving with regrettable reluctance because of the murder by Jews of the Arab youth.
Yet the fact of this murder should in no way impinge upon our right to defend ourselves. Nor can we worry about the world thinks of us.  Both Naftali Bennett and Avigdor Lieberman criticized Netanyahu’s weakness in acting, as did others. 
Today Lieberman took a major step: He separated his party, Yisrael Beitenu, from the Likud. (Likud and Yisrael Beitenu ran together in the last election.) The issue of Netanyahu’s response to Hamas in Gaza was a primary motivating force. I see it as a good move.  Yisrael Beitenu is remaining in the Coalition, and so the government is not threatened.  It is Likud that is weakened.
Now tonight, in a short interval of time, a far greater barrage of rockets and mortars – somewhere between 40 and 70 depending on the source – was unleashed upon Israel.  Sirens went off in multiple locations and rockets headed towards Ashkelon and Ashdod. 
Hamas claimed credit for this rocket barrage.  Israel has called up 1,500 reservists and increased action inside of Gaza by air.  An invasion of Gaza seems imminent, although it has not yet been set into action.  I am reading that the Security Cabinet is calling for “phased escalation,” although it’s not entirely clear what this entails. 
In light of what Hamas is now demanding, I do not see how anything other than full war can follow although Israel is taking her time getting there (emphasis follows):
a senior Hamas official told The Times of Israel that the group does not accept the idea that ‘quiet will be answered with quiet’ in the Gaza Strip, saying that if Israel wants peace in the South it must release all the prisoners freed in exchange for Gilad Shalit who were recently re-arrested following the abduction of the three Israeli teens...
“Omri Ceren of the advocacy group The Israel Project said, ‘Now they’re refusing to stop the rocket barrages until Israel lifts all restrictions on bringing materials into Gaza. The odds of that happening are exactly zero percent. This was a condition meant to give them a pretext for continued rocket attacks.’
“Ceren said, ‘It’s becoming fairly clear that Hamas thinks it’s their interest to escalate. Militarily those moves risks a full-blown war with the Israelis.”
To write more is pointless, as the situation is in flux.
© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by Arlene Kushner, functioning as an independent journalist. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution. 
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