For those individuals — such as nearly all members of the world news media — who, in light of Israel’s invasion of Gaza — see moral equivalence between Israel and the Palestinians, here are some clarifying thoughts.
First, it would be difficult nearly to the point of impossibility, to find Israeli or other Jews who celebrate the deaths of Palestinian civilians. Jews both within and outside of Israel cringe when they see pictures of dead Palestinian men, women, and children in Gaza. For thousands of years at their Passover seders, Jews have removed wine from their cups to ceremonially weep for the Egyptians — their erstwhile slave owners for 400 years — who died during the Jews’ exodus. Jews have never stopped weeping for enemies.
The opposite is the case with the large majority of Palestinians. It would be quite difficult to find many Palestinians who do not celebrate the deaths of Israeli Jews or non-Israeli Jews. This is not only reflected in Palestinian polls that show majority support for terrorism — and terrorism means killing innocent Jews — it is also reflected in Palestinian media, Palestinian schools, and Palestinian mosques that routinely glorify murderers of Jews, and refer to all Jews as “monkeys” and the like.
Take for example, Palestinian reaction to the 2001 Palestinian terror bombing of a Jerusalem Sbarro pizzeria in which 15 Jews, five of whom were two sets of parents and their children, were murdered and an additional 130 people were injured, some permanently maimed.
As reported by the Associated Press, a month later, “Palestinian university students opened an exhibition that included a grisly re-enactment” of that mass murder. The students built a replica of the Sbarro pizzeria, with fake blood, splattered pizza, a plastic hand dangling from the ceiling, and a fake severed leg wearing jeans and a bloody black sneaker.
“The exhibit also includes a large rock in front of a mannequin wearing the black hat, black jacket and black trousers typically worn by ultra-Orthodox Jews. A recording from inside the rock calls out: ‘O believer, there is a Jewish man behind me. Come and kill him,'” paraphrasing a verse in the Koran. It became a popular tourist attraction for Palestinians, to which Palestinian parents took their little children.
Here’s the question: Can anyone even imagine Jews, in Israel or anywhere else on earth — no matter how right-wing they are politically or religiously — doing something analogous to celebrate the death of Palestinian civilians? I have spoken to Jewish groups on both U.S. coasts since the Israeli invasion of Gaza, and when the subject of Palestinian civilian deaths is mentioned, all I hear is regret and sadness.
This moral chasm that separates Israel from its enemies, and separates the Jews from their enemies, merely confirms what Hamas repeatedly says about itself: “We love death more than the Jews love life.” This motto is so true that Hamas not only doesn’t weep for dead Israelis, it doesn’t weep for dead Palestinians. It uses living Palestinians as human shields and uses dead Palestinians as propaganda. The moral disequilibrium is such that Jews weep for dead Palestinian far more than Hamas does.
The second point to be raised is about perspective.
If during World War II, Western news media had reported German and Japanese civilian casualties in the same detail and with the same sympathy they report Palestinian civilian casualties in Gaza, it is doubtful that the Nazis and the Japanese militarists would have lost that war. Certainly, at the very least, the anti-Nazi, anti-Fascist war effort would have been severely compromised.
The analogy is entirely apt. Hamas is on the same moral level as the two World War II enemies. Do those who condemn Israel for its attacks on Hamas fighters that have tragically resulted in hundreds of civilian Palestinian deaths also condemn the Allied bombings of German and Japanese military targets that resulted in far more civilian deaths? I suspect not since most critics of Israel still regard World War II as a moral war. The overriding issue, therefore, is whether fighting Hamas is moral. If it is, then the unintended death of Palestinian civilians is a tragedy, not an evil (except on the part of Hamas, because it situates its fighters and its missiles among civilians, including schools).
Third, if Hamas had the same ability to bomb Israel as Israel has to bomb Gaza, would the number of Jewish civilians be in the hundreds? Or would there be the Holocaust in Israel that Hamas and its Iranian sponsors dream of?
The answer is so obvious that this consideration alone renders moral Israel’s war to destroy Hamas. In a short period of time Hamas will have more accurate missiles and longer-range ones. One of them could kill a thousand or more. Another one could destroy passenger planes coming into Ben-Gurion Airport, thereby causing foreign airlines to stop flying into Israel. It is that inevitability that Israel is fighting to prevent. But in the morally confused world we live in, only with thousands of Israelis dead, would Israel’s invasion of Gaza be “proportional,” and therefore acceptable. But Israel is more interested in living with world condemnation than in dying with world sympathy.