Sunday, July 6, 2014

How Mainstream Israelis Cope with Jewish Terrorists

Moral chauvinism is the view that a certain people is morally superior to another. It’s hard to find peoples or nations that aren’t afflicted with it. I believe that we Jews are especially afflicted with it because, traditionally, we have had to compensate for our lack of political power, and we have had to explain to ourselves why we were the chosen people, despite the fact we were living as a minority under a majority religion.  They were stronger; we were more moral.

Moral chauvinism has taken a beating in Israel the last few days, and here are some of the psychological mechanisms that will enable Israelis to cope with the revelation that Jewish terrorists are (still allegedly) responsible for the murder of Mr. Abu Khedir. 

1.  Shock. “Omigod, there are Jewish terrorists?”  This is a particularly bizarre reaction, since there have been Jews killing innocent Palestinian Arabs throughout the history of Zionism, whether in or out of uniform.  In fact, honor/revenge killings, or other criminal activity, is as Jewish as cholent – or as Arab as humus. Jews are people, and people, especially ignorant and barbaric people, take revenge in this way. Why should Jews be any different?  I hear this reaction every time Jews commit crimes of this sort. Nobody remembers the Jewish Underground. Nobody remembers Ami Popper. Nobody remembers Barukh Goldstein. Nobody remembers the Jewish terrorists before the state. And I am not even talking about the ones in uniform. 

2. Emotional over-reaction. Rabbi Daniel Landes of Pardes Institute wrote in my opinion a particularly wrong-headed post in which he said that Jewish terrorists should be punished the way Palestinian terrorists are punished, by blowing up their family houses, etc. This is supposed to be fair? The fact is that justice is served in neither case. If blowing up a house as retribution/deterrence is wrong – and it is wrong, period – then why blow up anybody’s house, Jew or Arab?

3.  Belittling. We are going to see a lot of this in the coming weeks. “Sure, this was a despicable deed, but we have so few terrorists compared to them.” How many people are going to argue, “Considering we have an army, and a border police, who carry out “retaliatory” actions and collectively punish Arabs under the name of deterrence, the fact that this is not good enough for some of us speaks volumes about who better controls their lust for vengeance, Jews or Arabs.”

4. Sympathy for the families of the terrorists.  I remember this from the 1980s and the Jewish Underground.  In the beginning, the perpetrators were condemned, then money was raised for their families (why should they suffer?) and the criminals’ defense (aren’t they entitled to one?) and little by little, they underwent a rehabilitation, without expressing remorse and regret. That, and presidential pardons, did the trick. Those who were collecting money for the families of Jewish terrorists would never think to do that for the families of Arab terrorists.

5. “Should our sister be made a harlot”? Condemn the perpetrators not for taking revenge, but for taking revenge in the way that revenge was taken.  After all, isn’t Jewish honor a supreme value? (Answer: no.)

There is a pattern in these things that repeats itself: shock, condemnation, outrage, vows of punishment, then as time passes, commuted sentences, pardoned perpetrators, and life goes on. This is particularly true of those murderers who have political clout, such as those in the Jewish Underground of the 1980s. There is noise every time there is a price-tag crime, and occasionally suspects are rounded up. But how many trials and how many convictions, and how many people are actually sent to jail? Only the lone wolves,  without any political lobby,like Ami Popper.

And the most prevalent way of coping:

6. Change the channel to the Mondial.


wkovacs said...

didnt you once wear the uniform of the idf? are you admitting to terrorist acts?

are you admitting to committing murder?

turn yourself over to the state dept post haste

i do not want a murderer walking free on my streets

Reines Zionist said...

I'm sorry for you, that your vision of coexistence is falling apart. Magnes vision was irrelevant 75-100 years ago, and it's even more irrelevant not. Obviously, Jews and Arabs can't AND won't live together. You are trying to preach to something that is a fiction. It didn't work even for Jews that have lived in Arab countries. One have to wonder, how come most extreme left Jews are of Ashkenazi origin, while most of right wing Jews in Israel, including the murderers of the Arab kid, are Mizrahi, people who lived among Arabs for centuries...
Apparently, what is needed is a total separation. Total. Not nice to say, but with both land and population shifts on both sides. As they say - Only good fences make good neighbors. And only then, maybe again 75-100 years from now, the two people could live together.
One more thing. It looks a bit hypocritical to me how the murderers of the Arab kid are portrayed as Jews rather than Israelis by extreme leftys and anti-Israelis. while Arab murderers and rioters are not Muslim nor Arabs, but Palestinians. That coming from people who say Jews are not a nation but a religion or ethnic group (not entitled to a state, etc), hold double standards when it comes to demonizing Jews or Israelis

Jerry Haber said...


I didn't say that every IDF soldier is a terrorist. But the IDF has been guilty of war crimes, as has most armies, and since the occupation is a very long one, they have been guilty of many war crimes.

Avoid generalizations. That's a generalization, of course.

Jerry Haber said...

Reines Zionist. Aside from the fact that you do not honor the memory of Rav Reines, z"l, who never held the views you do, you are factually incorrect. Jews and Arabs did live together, very well, most of the times, not so well, at other times.

Jews who lived in Arabs lands, on the whole, had very positive attitudes towards them, and this has been noted by many historians. As for the Zionist kool aid you seem to have drunk, you may start by reading Rachel Shabi's, "We Look Like the Enemy: The Hidden Story of Israel's Jews from Arab Lands". True, she is the daughter of Iraqis, who, aside from the Farhud pogrom, were highly integrated. A less polemical and scholarly work is by Orit Bashkin, The New Babylonians: "As the book reveals, the ultimate displacement of this community was not the result of a perpetual persecution on the part of their Iraqi compatriots, but rather the outcome of misguided state policies during the late 1940s and early 1950s." Surely, Zionism and nationalism, not to mention the expulsion of the Palestinian refugees, had much to do with negative attitudes towards Jews (and non-Muslims, in other cases.)

But the myth that Jews and Arabs cannot get together is just that, a myth, and if you talk to people who lived here during the Mandate period, you will find a different story from what you have been taught. After all, Jews were not only massacred in Hebron in 1929, but many were protected by their neighbors, and when Jews attacked defenceless Arabs in Jerusalem there were other Jews who protected them. Coexistence was the rule; ethnic strife was the exception, except when Zionism took over.

Jerry Haber said...

I should add, of course, that each Jewish community was different. The last comment was about Iraqi Jews.

The suspects in the murder case were not Jews from Arab lands; they were born and raised in Israel, and, apparently, educated in Shas institutions. Why do they hate Arabs? That's a question for sociologists of youth from lower socio-economic strata, with an intensely bigoted and tribalistic education. It's not where you are from that determines this; it's how much education you have received. Study after study show that the more education, the less prejudice and violence.

But I would be very careful about making generalizations. That in itself is a value that has to be taught.

Jerry Haber said...

You are the first person I have met who thinks that the Bible assumes that Amalek is innocent, or that there are innocent people within Amalek! Can you give me a source for that?

Unknown said...

I am very thankful for Jerry Harber. I am an American Jew who has visited Israel several times. I love Palestinians as much as I love my own people, and boy do I love my own people.

Jerry Harber is a tzadik. In addition to being wise and driven by compassion and justice, tzadiks speak out knowing that his or her words will be twisted, parsed, and misunderstood. Part of the strength that allows them to keep educating and guiding comes from a deep understanding of the human heart. Particularly, the knowledge that the human heart desires to be right more than it desires to be righteous.

The desire to murder children is also embedded in this poisoned chamber of our heart, but, thankfully, only in severely contorted hearts.

As another jewish's tzadik said thousands of years ago,"Forgive them father for they know not what they do."

On all sides of this conflict we need more Jerry Harbers to help us find our heart. And, then, moreover help us confront its most bitter and recalcitrant aspects.

Andreas Rubinstein