Michael Jackson

Arab life value; Jewish life value 

Humanists state that an Arab life is worth the same as a Jewish life.  No more; no less.

How simple!! How naive!!

Let’s start with Hamas.  The Hamas charter states that they aim to kill Jews.  So for them, an Arab life is more valuable than a million Jewish lives.

When I posed the hypothetical question  “How many Gazan kids should die to free one Israeli hostage?” on a TOI (Times of Israel) blog post, one reply I received was “no upper limit”.  Granted only one person, but this fanatical inhumanity exists among Palestinians, Israelis, Jews, and Arabs.  Some senior Israeli government officials in the early days of the war talked about inflicting suffering on Gazans and how all Gazans were guilty. 

I am not going to discuss the genocidal actions of Hamas on October 7th.  It is clear where they stand on this issue of the life value of Jews.  There are a substantial number in the Palestinian, Arab, and Muslim world who concur in this cheap valuation of Jewish life.  These folk will not read these words;  very few, if any, are denizens of the TOI blogs.  In discussing Hamas, I am not making a comparison of Hamas to Israel in terms of valuing human life.  I mention Hamas merely to avoid “what-aboutism” comments.  This is as foolish as comparing Israel’s admittedly flawed democracy against that of the surrounding autocracies and saying Israel is much better.  Of course, this is a pretty low bar for comparisons..

Ami Ayalon, director of Shin Bet from 1996 to 2000 stated “The cabinet, the prime minister, they signal to the Shin Bet that if a Jew is killed, that’s terrible. If an Arab is killed, that’s not good, but it’s not the end of the world.” (quoted in New York Times magazine).

I have written three TOI blog posts on tribalism: ,  .   Much of this inhumanity is driven by tribalism.

 My concern is the Israeli, Jewish diaspora, and Western positions on the value of life.  Is a human being a human being?  Are we human beings before being Jewish beings?   

Many American secular Jews, Reform Jews, and Conservative Jews appear to have moral issues about the loss of Gazan civilians (mainly women and children).  Their criticisms of Israel’s military tactics in Gaza range from qualms and skepticism to anger and disgust with all emotions in between.  A relatively small number of Israeli Jews have similar positions.  Most Orthodox American Jews are highly focused on the hostages and the victims of the October 7th atrocities.  They pay scant attention to the over 22,000 dead Gazan civilians (mainly women and children).  It appears to me, as an American Jewish viewer, that most Israeli Jews feel this way also.

Those Jews who are of this my-side-alone-matters mentality will talk of the hostages, hostage negotiations, hostage families, Israeli soldiers killed, Netanyahu’s plans, Israeli warnings to evacuate, the inaccuracy of Gazan death count, Hamas using human shields, the Hamas money spent on the tunnels, recolonization of Gaza, lack of support for Israel by other countries (including the US), and specific Israeli concerns.  They will rarely, if ever or unless directly questioned, talk about Palestinian kids’ deaths, 2,000-pound bombs, closed hospitals, inadequate supply of medicinal drugs, the lack of food, famine, disease, constant relocations, or the multitude of hardships afflicting Gazans.  Nor will they dwell on wider aspects of the conflict such as settlement expansion, Jewish settler pogroms against West Bank Arabs, and West Bank Palestinian killings by the IDF.

In wartime, people flee from their common humanity, dwell in their ethnic sanctuary, and ignore the humanity of their opponents.  So for many Jews, an Arab life is worth less than a Jewish life.  For many Arabs, it is the exact opposite.  Perhaps the ultimate inhumanity is not seeing the human in the enemy, even civilians.

About the Author
Born in London in 1949. Studied Maths at Warwick University. Came to Israel (WUJS program at Arad) in 1971. I became a citizen and served in the army in 1973. Returned to the UK in 1974. Worked in Information Systems. Married an American Orthodox woman in 1977 and moved to America. For a few years I have led a retiree philosophy class.
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