Thursday October 30, 2014
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30.10.2014
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Richard Baehr

Some murders are different

The world press is hot on a story it wants to cover -- a Palestinian teenager is forced ıinto a car, and is found murdered hours later. A verdict has been rendered -- ıthe murderer had to have been an Israeli settler, seeking vengeance after the ıkidnapping and murder of three Israeli teenagers two weeks earlier. It may well be ıthat this murder went down exactly as it is described. In any sense, it is ghastly, and ıIsraeli officials have been quick to condemn it, however it happened. ı

The bigger story is the wave of relief this latest murder has created for the ıinternational press, since it has enabled them and the rest of the "international ıcommunity" to turn the page from the horrific slaughter of the three young Israelis for which there is ılittle doubt about responsibility, to one that better fits their biases and beliefs.ı

The latest murder, if in fact a tit-for-tat killing, is one that will get the storyline back ıto where it needs to be and where the international community is in its comfort ızone -- that settlers, and the occupation are at the bottom of all the troubles in the ıarea. The reporting in American newspapers on the kidnapping, and then the ıdiscovery of the bodies of the three Israeli teens, almost never failed to mention ıthat the boys were settlers, despite the fact that only one of them lived in the West ıBank, and the boys were not the decision-makers in their families as to where to ılive or study in any case. Presumably from the media coverage, it is problematic for ıJews to even study at a yeshiva in the area. Of course the area in which they were ıabducted (Gush Etzion) contained Jewish villages before the partition plan passed ıby the United Nations in 1947, and that plan allowed Jews to continue to live there ıin the new Arab majority state that was created, as Arabs were allowed to live in ıthe Jewish majority state that was created. It was Jordan's occupation and then ıannexation of the West Bank after that war (in which they and other Arab armies ıinvaded the new Jewish state to destroy it), a seizure and colonialist expansion ınever recognized by anyone except Britain and Pakistan, that led to the area ıbecoming Judenrein. But Jews never lost their right to live or work or study in the ıarea, despite the media's ignorance of history, and international law.ı

Israeli officials believe they know the identity of the murderers of the three Israeli ıteenagers -- two Hamas members from the Hebron area, who went missing the night ıof the abduction. The kidnapping was ılikely planned and executed to force Israel into another disproportionate prisoner ıexchange, as occurred after five years with the captive solider Gilad Schalit, ıexchanged for over 1,000 Palestinian prisoners, some of whom have since ıreturned to terror activities soon after their release. ı

The participation by Hamas members in such an operation, was embarrassing to ıthe Palestinian Authority which had recently achieved the latest in a series of unity ıdeals with Hamas, this one sold as creating a new government filled with ıtechnocrats, rather than say murderers of, or apologists for and planners for the ımurder of Jews in Israel or the territories. The technocrat malarkey was enough ıfor President Barack Obama, who pledged continued U.S. aid to the Palestinian Authority ıdespite legislation that seemed on its face to bar aid to a Palestinian government ıwhich included Hamas. Then again, why should compliance with established law ıbe more important for the president in this circumstance when the administration ıhad so cavalierly and consistently ignored other laws on immigration, health care, ırecess appointments, and the operation of federal agencies (e.g., the Internal Revenue Service) when it ısuited him? ı

The PA, perhaps sensing a new financial risk to the international aid dollars that ımake it the world's greatest welfare dependency, criticized the abduction, and ıallowed some PA security forces to assist Israel in its search for the missing teens ıı(who apparently were killed within minutes of their abduction). Hamas applauded ıthe abduction, and its members and supporters carried on as they normally do ıwhen these things occur -- celebrating and ululating, and passing out sweets, to ıshare in the joy of Israeli families' misery. Of course, these Palestinian mothers ıinclude some who had willingly sent their children out to carry out mass murder ıwith suicide vests attached to them, and then pledged their devotion to providing ıfuture jihadists to the noble cause of murdering Jews. ı

Bret Stephens described the pride and joy he heard from some ıPalestinian mothers of earlier terrorist suicide bombers and concluded:ı

ı"As for the Palestinians and their inveterate sympathizers in the ıWest, perhaps they should note that a culture that too often ıopenly celebrates martyrdom and murder is not fit for statehood, ıand that making excuses for that culture only makes it more ıunfit. Postwar Germany put itself through a process of moral ırehabilitation that began with a recognition of what it had done. ıPalestinians who want a state should do the same, starting with ıthe mothers."ı

This rebuke to the culture of martyrdom flies in the face of the ıconventional wisdom on what is really perpetuating the Arab-ıIsraeli conflict. The font of established international wisdom on ıthese matters, New York Times columnist Tom Friedman, had ıthe answer for Stephens -- that in the Middle East, there are ıı"arsonists and firefighters." Arsonists include the kidnappers of the three Israelis ıı(to be fair, Friedman was unaware the boys had been murdered ıat the time he wrote the column), and Israeli cabinet members ıwho back new housing for Israel's growing population (the ıhighest birth rate in the world among developed countries):ı

ı"The Palestinian extremists who recently kidnapped three ıIsraeli youths were arsonists, aiming to blow up any hope of ırestarting Israeli-Palestinian peace talks and to embarrass ıPalestinian moderates. But they had help. Radical Jewish ısettler supporters in the Israeli cabinet, like Naftali Bennett ıand Housing Minister Uri Ariel, are arsonists. Ariel ıdeliberately announced plans to build 700 new housing units ıfor Jews in Arab East Jerusalem -- timed to torpedo Secretary ıof State John Kerry's shuttle diplomacy. And they did."ı

Kidnappers and murderers are extremist. Cabinet members ıwho support new housing in communities that would almost ıcertainly remain as part of Israel, if Friedman's beloved two-ıstate solution were realized, are radicals. There is not much ımoral difference for Friedman between kidnapping teenagers ıand brutally murdering them, and building more apartments ıin areas that are now and will almost certainly remain part of ıone's country. As for the argument that the two Hamas ıkidnappers/murderers were merely trying to blow up the nonıexistent peace process, Friedman assumes that other parties ıare as obsessed with the "process" as he is -- some working to ımove it along (firefighters), others trying to destroy it ıı(arsonists). When you believe that this process is critical to ıeverything that goes on between the Muslim world and the ıWest, it makes sense to make such an argument, even if there ıis little or no evidence to support it. ı

Neither Friedman nor his paper would ever even consider ıthat Islamists' hatred of Jews might be an explanation for the ırecent murders of Jews in Belgium, France, and Israel. For ıhim, it is always the occupation and settlements. The murder ıof Jews around the world by Arabs is collateral damage for ıthe real crime, the original sin of building new housing units ıin Jerusalem. ı

Not surprisingly, The New York Times, which has become the ımost reliable path to understanding the thinking of the ıcurrent U.S. administration, published another articleı attempting to equate the mothers of the Israeli kidnap victims ıwith the mother of a Palestinian boy who was killed while ıharassing and confronting Israelis searching for the three ıteenagers. There is always moral ıequivalence, and the suffering on the two sides will go on until ıthe new housing stops getting built. ı

Obama condemned the murder of the three Israelis, ıand also called for Israel to avoid any destabilizing responses. ıThose apparently include striking back at Hamas, continuing ıthe search for the killers, and building new housing. Secretary ıof State John Kerry wasted no time condemning the murder ıof the Palestinian teenager, seemingly certain of the ıperpetrator and the cause:

ı"The U.S. denounces in the strongest possible terms ıthe sickening and despicable and senseless abduction ıand killing of Muhammad Hussein Abu Khdeir.ı ... Those who undertake acts of vengeance only ıdestabilize an already explosive and emotional ısituation."ı

We will find out more in the days ahead about both of the ıabductions/murders. But the guilty parties will be seen as ıdifferent kind of villains for much of the world. Some murders ıare different.ı

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