Back to Black and White

Ask a group of regular, rational-minded people which of the following two they think is the greater evil: A person who breaks into another’s property and builds a house in their backyard, or a person who breaks into their house and slaughters their family. Which would you rather endure: Theft or murder?  The answer is simple, isn’t it?

Ask this same group of people whom they think are more criminal: Is it a group of people who pray in the wrong place? Or is it a group of people who run over, stab, and ax people to death for bearing a certain identity?

Now let’s ask about the difference between settlements and radical Islam: which of these is a bigger obstacle to peace? At first, in its simpler form, this question was a black and white one. Somehow, with the added context of regional politics, it apparently became a grey one.

Although the difference between good and evil can indeed be complicated, sometimes it is awfully simple. The western political mind has forgotten how to identify simplicity – and that needs to change.

There are a growing number of people who have great difficulty with and indeed refuse to simply say that difference exists: that black is different to white. Due mostly to political correctness, they are weary of even saying the terms ‘black’ or ‘white’ (or Radical Islam, for that matter) at all, for fear it might be offensive.

This refusal to acknowledge difference is not a noble commitment to equality as much as it is blindness: equality is contingent upon responsibility; blindness, on the other hand, is what ultimately results in the failure to identify the difference between a country that honors the sanctity of life and a terror organisation that relishes in death.

In this color-blind outlook on the world, white people are said to be the same as black people, Jews the same as Muslims, Gays the same as straights, Palestinians the same as Israelis, settlers the same as terrorists – Saying anything different would be offensive, after all.

Yet they are not. Jews are not the same as Muslims. Blacks are not the same as whites. Gays are not the same as straights. Is one better than the other? No. Is one different to the other? Yes. That is all: simply different.  Difference does not automatically imply that one is better than the other, what it does imply, however, is that one is not the same as the other.

Today’s attack in Jerusalem was a tragic manifestation of the real, definitive obstacle to peace in the Middle East: Radical Islam. Radical Islam is what encourages ax-wielding lunatics to massacre Jews while they pray and while they sleep; it is what motivates people to run over babies as their parents wait for a tram; it is what materializes as a culture in which the murder of Jews is glorified on mainstream TV, idealized in textbooks, and celebrated in the streets; it is what blames murder on housing. And worst of all, it is what fools us in to thinking that there is no difference between black and white.

Hamas, Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad and their ilk, I regret to say, have already started to win the conflict at large. I say this because in a few weeks from now, this attack will have blended into what analysts call the ‘cycle of violence.’ Subsequent terror attacks will be viewed as retaliations instead of provocations; we will be duped into thinking that what we are seeing is the natural result of the collective frustration of a marginalized people.

Mahmoud Abbas, the alleged moderate, will have us believe that Jews uttering prayers at the Temple Mount is indeed a “contamination” of the Al Aqsa Mosque. The house demolitions and revoking of citizenship of the terrorists’ families responsible for today’s butchering will lose their context and instead become statistics – used deceptively by “human rights” NGOs and anti-Israel organisations to tell a story of “occupation and humiliation.” Black will fade subtly into white.

Hamas and Hezbollah know that we, the fools in the west, are incapable of identifying the most obvious of truths – even when they stare us directly in the face. If they had any doubts about how foolish we were, they now certainly have no doubts left. They saw how confused we were during this July’s war. As they deliberately blended into civilian clothing, homes, schools and hospitals, so too our standards of wrong and right blended with them. We called Israel’s disproportionate care for enemy civilians “disproportionate force” against enemy civilians and confused Hamas’ spokespeople’s lies with their true genocidal intent in its charter, open for all to see.

In order to eliminate evil, we must first be able to identify it. In order to identify it, we must be able to tell it apart from good. When the difference between good and evil is so blatantly clear, and yet still we refuse to acknowledge it due to political correctness, evil will win.

We must wake up and see what is truly going on in the Middle East. Sam Harris asked one of the most important questions about the conflict this year: What would each side do to the other, if they could do what they wanted. Hamas, according to its own charter, blatantly seeks the annihilation of the State of Israel and all its inhabitants, yet its rockets and tunnels proved insufficient to achieve this goal. Israel, on the other hand, could have flattened Gaza within an hour but didn’t. Why?

Maybe it’s because at the very root lies a fundamental difference. Good versus evil: The defense of civilians – enemy civilians included – and the massacre of civilians – own civilians included. As simple as that.

We need to be able to identify this difference and have the courage to speak about it. Israel needs to be allowed to finish wars that are started against her, and to be able to obliterate terror without high and mighty one-sided moral authorities breathing down her neck.  A lot of innocent lives may depend on it. If not now, when?


About the Author
Josh is the former Chairman of SAUJS (South African Union of Jewish Students) Cape Town; and former Board Member of the SAJBD (South African Jewish Board of Deputies) Cape Council; and Tikvah Fellow