We Jews have cried many bitter tears over the last six months. From the brutal murder of the teenagers killed by Hamas terrorists earlier in the summer to the terror attack this week which killed five including rabbis praying at a synagogue and everything in between, this past half year has been tragic for Jews. Whilst the murder of fellow Jews affects me more deeply because it is closer to home, I admit to also having shed tears for Palestinian children killed during the Gaza conflict over the summer. The girls that were kidnapped by Boka Haram in Nigeria as well as the victims of ISIS brutality similarly breaks my heart. The idea that parents will never see their children again or that kids have had their parents ripped away from them is simply devastating. The fact that the people suffering such tragedy are not part of our community or live thousands of miles away makes it no less heart-wrenching.
When we found out that a mentally disturbed Jewish man killed a Palestinian teenager over the summer every segment of the Jewish community both in Israel and in the diaspora was outraged. Our hearts went out to the victim and his family and we all condemned this murderous act as un-Jewish and terribly wrong on every level. Even the murderers own family have disowned him because of what he did. Despising death and murder does not make Jews special, it makes us human. To be human means is to feel the suffering of others. Humans empathize with each other, we try not to do unto others that which we don’t want done unto ourselves.
All this makes the celebrations that erupted all over Palestinian society following the brutal murder of four rabbis this week all the more disturbing. What kind of people celebrate the hacking to death of four innocent fathers, grandfathers, husbands and teachers? What type of perverse society not only encourages its young people to hack others to death with meat cleavers but then celebrates when they do so? Only a depraved society that lacks the most basic features of what it means to be human does this.
It is important to be clear eyed about the nature and values of the society amongst whom we live. In this weeks Torah portion (Genesis, 26) for example, we read the story of Isaac who while living in Gerar hid the fact that Rebecca was his wife and instead told the men who lived there that she was his sister. He did this because he know the people of Gerar lacked moral values and he was therefore afraid they would kill him so that they could then take his beautiful wife. Clearly it is important to be honest about who one’s neighbors are so that relevant precautions can be taken.
When talking about any settlement with the Palestinians it is similarly important that we understand the nature of their society. Clearly they do not value peace or human life. This is a society that is driven by hate to the degree that they celebrate when more Jews become orphans and widows because of the dastardly acts of their own children.
Unfortunately, the president of the United States does not understand this. While condemning this weeks terrorist attack he cautioned us to remember that the majority of Palestinians want peace. This comment demonstrates complete ignorance of the facts on the ground and the nature of the Palestinian society in general. Recent polls show that eighty-one percent of Palestinians favor Hamas’ violent way of resisting “occupation” over a more peaceful approach. Seventy-two percent of Palestinians favor the transfer of Hamas’ armed approach to the West Bank (http://www.pcpsr.org/en/node/496). This hardly demonstrates a desire for peace by the majority of Palestinians.
This ignorance by the leader of the free world is not only inexcusable it is extremely dangerous. As Isaac knew in the biblical story mentioned above, not comprehending who your neighbor really is can cost you your life. In this case Barack Obama’s ignorance about the nature of the Palestinian society and by extension of radical Islam and regimes such the Ayatollah led Iranian government is putting all of us directly in harms way.
We must stop dreaming about the partner for peace we would like to have and be honest about the neighbors we actually have and continue taking precautions accordingly. We must not stand for it when people like Barack Obama and John Kerry try and force an incorrect version of reality upon us, one that gives us false hope and causes us to let our guard down. Every time we are hear such platitudes it is our responsibility to combat then firmly with the facts.