JEWS AND JUSTICE
by Louis Rene Beres
Professor of International Law
Department of Political Science
18 November 2002
I am the faculty advisor of Israel Council at Purdue, a student organization dedicated to combating misrepresentations of Israel. On Sunday, November 17, the day of our major conference, THE ETHICS OF THE MIDDLE EAST CONFLICT, an article appeared in our Lafayette, Indiana newspaper about the Hebron massacre of Jewish worshipers two days earlier. The title of the AP (Associated Press) piece, written by Nasser Shiyoukhi, was "Palestinian Militants Kill 12 Israelis."
Here is the way in which the systematic murder of Jewish worshipers by Arab terrorists was described in the article. First, the killers were identified as "militants." Curiously, if the article had been about an Al Qaeda attack upon Americans emerging from prayer it would surely have referred to "terrorists." In this connection, I don't recall the September 11th attackers being sanitized in the press as "militants."
Second, the victims were not described as men, women and children, or even as Israelis, but as "settlers." The innuendo is clear. "Settlers" are not innocent human beings; rather, at best, they are monstrous usurpers, neocolonial oppressors of the vulnerable Arab masses. Even the infants. In essence, when one reads between the lines, one can hear the words: "They had it coming to them."
Third, the writer makes clear that the attackers had a distinct and possibly permissible rationale. Islamic Jihad, says Nasser Shiyoukhi, was "avenging the killing of its northern West Bank commander, Iyad Sawalha, by Israeli troops" several days earlier. So the terrorists and those who fight terror are presented on exactly the same moral plane. The violence of the defenders is no better than the violence of the murderers. Terrorism is no worse than counterterrorism.
Fourth, the special volatility of Hebron is explained in terms of unique intergroup orientations. According to Shiyoukhi: "The Muslims here are among the most devout, and the Jewish settlers among the most radical." Now, one might ask, why aren't the adjectives reversed? Why aren't the Muslims described as "radical" and the Jews as "most devout?" And, again, why "settlers?" The answers are obvious.
Fifth, the writer ends his piece with a reference to a recent Israeli defensive operation in Anzar, a Palestinian village near the West Bank town of Jenin. Here, says Shiyoukhi, "Israeli troops killed Mahmoud Obeid, 28, an ACTIVIST in Arafat's Fatah movement." An "activist." Not a terrorist. Not even a militant. What was the revolutionary specialty of this "activist?" It was the premeditated murder of Jewish women and children, by shooting and burning. The writer must have forgotten to mention this.
I am reminded of the always wonderful novel and movie EXODUS. Awaiting hanging at the end of a British rope, the elder Irgun leader reminds his small band of followers: "Jews and justice can never be uttered in the same breath." Truer words were never spoken. These words should never be forgotten by friends of Israel, not until much has changed on this dangerous planet.
And what words shall we associate with Palestinian "militants" and "activists?" What words do they use in dealing with what they sometimes openly call "The Jewish Problem?" Here are some current examples:
"Kill the Jews, wherever you are, in any country." This is the advice of Sheikh Ahmad Abu-Halabaya, in a recent sermon in Gaza, a sermon that was broadcast repeatedly on official Palestinian Authority television. The Sheikh is part of the Arafat-appointed clergy.
Some more words of Arab "militants" and "activists." PA schoolbooks teach that "all Jews are evil." PA newspapers print cartoons of bloodthirsty, hook-nosed Jews hovering threateningly above Arab women and children. The PA newspapers portray Jews as insects or animals. Palestinian Authority radio programs openly accuse all Jews of atrocities and warn insistently against Jewish conspiracies to poison Arabs. PA summers camps train Arab children to "slit the throats of Jews." Streets in PA-controlled cities are named after murderers of Jews. The PA sponsors rallies honoring the murderers of Jews as "heroes," "martyrs," and "stars."
Jews and justice? Hardly. The grotesque inversion of right and wrong is made even worse by the witting or unwitting complicity of "liberal" and "enlightened" Jews with their enemies. Even now, even after the manifest deception of Oslo is plain for all to see, many Jews - either through indifference or group self hatred - identify openly with those who despise them. This inexcusable identification can be found in Europe, in the United States, and even in Israel - wherever Jews are unable to understand the meaning of an implacable enemy.
Jews and justice? The juxtaposition does not have to be ironic or inconceivable. There can be justice for Jews in this world, but only after each individual Jew feels a responsibility to fight back against pertinent journalistic manipulations and to recognize the still-exterminatory goals of Arab war and terror. A "Final Solution" for the Jews is an ineradicable part of certain Arab/Islamic strategies against Israel. To pretend otherwise is to ensure the utter meaninglessness of "Never Again."
LOUIS RENE BERES was educated at Princeton (Ph.D., 1971), and has published widely on international law and Israeli security issues. He is the author of twelve books and several hundred articles in scholarly journals. Beres is the academic advisor to the Freeman Center For Strategic Studies.