Featured Post

The Palestinian pass

The failure to condemn murderous acts is a grievous suspension of moral judgment in favor of abject lunacy

With Israeli ground troops now in Gaza after Hamas refused to hold its fire during a ceasefire (and failed to agree to an earlier one), and more casualties expected after ten days of alternating rockets and airstrikes that makes the border between Gaza and Israel resemble McEnroe vs. Connors on crack, one question always lingers: Why is Palestinian terrorism, perpetrated by Hamas, largely ignored while the world still fights a war on terror?

Every few years Hamas launches rockets from Gaza into Israel indiscriminately. Israel finally retaliates with superior precision and weaponry, which now includes the Iron Dome missile defense system. There are very few Israeli casualties. Palestinian death is disproportionate; women and children are embedded right beside Hamas militants. Killing a child is guaranteed under such asymmetrical, anomalous circumstances.

Israel is condemned for defending itself even though world leaders acknowledge the right of a nation to rid itself of rockets raining down on its people.

Here we are again, another tearjerker movie that can’t be saved with a spoiler alert: the ending is even more familiar than the one in “Gone with the Wind,” except that many viewers actually give a damn about Hamas (and gloss over the casualties it causes) even though it is as despicable and rogue an outfit as any this side of ISIS.

Yes, Israel is typically a hard sell to the mainstream media and a pointless pitch to anti-Semites looking for something new to hate about Jews. Still, that doesn’t explain how little effort is required to bathe Palestinians in a purifying light—regardless of their actions.

Call it the Palestinian Pass: the lack of accountability and low expectations expected of Palestinians—the behavior easily ignored or quickly forgiven—when compared with the high standards of moral perfection demanded of Israelis.

In no other context have liberation movements received such uncritical sympathy. Nearly without exception, the Baader-Meinhof Gang of West Germany, the Basque separatists of Spain, the Weathermen, Black Panthers and Branch Davidians of the United States, and the Irish Republican Army of the United Kingdom, regardless of the merits of their causes, never had their terrorizing actions sugarcoated in order to maintain their popular appeal.

And, frankly, these groups were B-team benchwarmers next to the murderous intentions and deeds of Hamas.

Hamas, an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood, has far more in common with al-Qaeda and ISIS than with any of these far tamer practitioners of domestic terror. And, yet, nobody weeps for the collateral damage killed among the carnage of al-Qaeda—indeed, those figures never even get reported. Shouldn’t all civilians be equally mourned?

Moreover, Hamas’ brand of Islamic fundamentalism is no friend of women, homosexuals, Christians, all infidels and, of course, Jews. Why then would its actions be deserving of a pass? Why would the press resist referring to them as a terrorist organization?

Israel has had a long history with terror. Indeed, what Israel took on the chin for decades ended up as a knockout blow against the United States on 9/11—albeit from a different terrorist source yet with a similar jihadist agenda. Israel’s Olympic team was massacred at Munich, global jets and cruise ships were high-jacked, an invalid tossed overboard; Jewish children were killed, sometimes in their cribs, and, most recently, kidnapped and executed. (And, yes, an Arab teenager was burned alive in a vulgar and aberrational act of vengeance that the Jewish state condemned and for which his killers will be punished severely.)

Israel’s response to terrorism is judged harshly; the provocation giving rise to its retaliation conveniently ignored. Death should always elicit scrutiny—even in the context of a war. But Israel is being overly scrutinized while Hamas’ behavior is bizarrely excused as an externality of a righteous cause.

This is nothing short of suspending moral judgment and critical reasoning in favor of abject lunacy. It betrays the human rights movement that Israel’s critics purportedly embrace. The very same people who wouldn’t be caught dead protesting the genocidal slaughter of Congolese, Sudanese and Syrians somehow find themselves on the front lines of activism in a convulsive rage over a killing in Gaza committed by Israel in self-defense.

Israel may be succeeding in Operation Protective Edge, but it can’t compete in the PR war. It lost its media mojo long ago—and, yes, there was a time when rooting for Israel was not social suicide. Before the Occupation, surrounded by Arab armies and avowed enemies, Israel was once the darling underdog.

That period was short lived; its military success brought it closer to regional superpower status.

Which begs the question: during its glory days, if Israel had indiscriminately fired rockets into civilian population centers and kidnapped teenagers while their own kids celebrated Arab death by throwing candy, would the world have shown them any love at all?

About the Author
Thane Rosenbaum is a novelist, essayist and Distinguished Fellow at NYU School of Law where he directs the Forum on Law, Culture & Society (FOLCS). He is the author, most recently, of the novel, "How Sweet It Is!" His forthcoming nonfiction book is titled, "The High Cost of Free Speech: Rethinking the First Amendment."
Related Topics
Related Posts