Sago Boulevard

Saturday, August 06, 2005

How Israel Responds to Jewish Terrorism

The news of Friday's terrorist attack in Shfaram left me staring blankly at the computer screen. I vaguely remember Baruch Goldstein's rampage, killing 29 Muslim civilians during a prayer service. But at the time, I wasn't as aware of current events and don't remember the news coverage and commentary that immediately followed. About last week's attack, though, I have a sense of what it means and it's making me sick.

I wasn't alone in feeling disgusted. The entirety of Israeli society condemned the attack without reservation - the kind of condemnation that's rare in Middle East today. It's Israel's response, I think, that sets it apart from its neighbors. I was referred to this editorial in the New York Sun:

Prime Minister Sharon immediately denounced the killings as "a reprehensible act by a bloodthirsty Jewish terrorist." The leader of the settlers' council, Bentsi Lieberman, said, "Murder is murder is murder, and there can be no other response but to denounce it completely and express revulsion."

Contrast these absolute condemnations to a recent response of the Palestinian Arab leader, Mahmoud Abbas, to terrorism against Jews. Last month, after two grandparents were shot dead by Palestinian Arab gunmen, Mr. Abbas said, "The Palestinian Authority will make every effort to stop these useless operations." Not because murder is murder and murdering is wrong, but because they are "useless." Because Israel doesn't buckle to terrorism and a different tactic is needed.

There was no dancing in the streets of Tel-Aviv and Jerusalem, like the celebrations in Arab villages after 9/11, no Israeli politicians or religious leaders blaming Palestinian violence and oppression, nobody making excuses for what is, in fact, cold-blooded murder. Israeli society looked the tragedy in the eyes and said "I'm sorry." May God forgive us.