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August 06, 2005

The Israeli Terrorist

On Thursday, a deserter from the Israeli army opened fire on a bus in Galilee, and killed 4 Israeli Arabs (including the bus driver). Then the people on the bus and a crowd from the outside (because the bus was stopped) surrounded the gunman and began to beat him with stones. The mob was over 200 strong and the gunman was killed.

There are many issues here, the first being how this is covered in the press, since it was an Israeli gunman fighting for Israeli rights. Here are some quotes from the Boston Globe:

The attack was one of the deadliest by an Israeli on Palestinian civilians in years, and it followed predictions by security services that some opponents of the Gaza withdrawal would take extreme measures to prevent it as the Aug. 17 starting date approaches. In particular, Israeli authorities have said, opponents might launch attacks on Palestinians to draw reprisals against Israelis and reignite fighting between the two sides -- perhaps forcing the government to reconsider the plan.

I don't know, but I don't think that Palestinians need an excuse to blow up Israelis. Let me be clear that I think this man was wrong to open fire on this bus and I have no sympathy for him. But the Globe seems to be showing more sympathy for Palestinians as victims in this one paragraph than the press as a whole has ever shown to Israeli victims.

However, they are kind enough to include this quote:

Many settlers and their supporters plan to resist soldiers and police officers sent to remove residents. But leaders of the main settlement movement have vowed not to resort to violence.

"Such incidents cannot be part of the democratic struggle in Israel," a settler leader, Bentsi Lieberman, said to reporters near the Gaza Strip, where thousands have protested in recent days.

It's clear that Israelis understand they can't resort to violence in their protests - terrorist style violence anyway. I would like to see some recognition of the fact that Israelis themselves are stepping up to say that what this Israeli gunman did was wrong. Why is this so hard for Arabs to understand?

Here is Prime Minister Sharon's statement, condemning the attack. It's good to know that Sharon condemns all terrorist attacks, even the Israeli ones. As James Taranto said yesterday:

In the typical terrorist attack by Palestinian Arabs, Palestinian officials, if they criticize it at all, do so only on the ground that it's counterproductive, and the parents usually hail their child's "martyrdom." So, while Jewish terrorists are every bit as despicable as Arab ones, Israel's response to this atrocity shows that Jewish civilization is vastly superior to its Arab counterpart.

I agree. Jewish civilization is superior to Arab civilization. It's more respectable to not honor terrorists or superficially condemn them just because they share your race. However, what sort of "civility" do we see in Israel if a crazy mob comes and kills someone like that? I understand that the Israeli people live in constant threat of a bus bomber, that they have for years and that they've pretty much had it with terrorists in their country. They started fighting this war against terror years before September 11. But does all of this necessitate the crazy mob mentality?
I mean, even if, right after 9/11, a similar thing had happened on a New York bus, right near Ground Zero, would we see this kind of mob? Would we see Americans beating a gunman to death, rather than restraining him, dipping their hands in his blood rather than calling the police?

It's a whole different culture in the Middle East. I heard someone say on the news the other day (Oh, maybe it was Rich Lowry) that Muslims in India don't have the same culture of hate for Jews and other non-Muslims, that there is something particular to the Arab world that makes the interpretation of the Koran more deadly.

It's different in the Middle East. More different than I think we've been willing to admit in our desire for peace and unity. The Israeli government may indeed be more civil and responsible than its Arab counterpart when it comes to condemning terror in all forms. However, what passes as civil and humane among the citizens themselves is far different from what we would imagine here in America.

Of course we wouldn't dance in the streets over another country's tragedy either.

Posted by Abigail at August 6, 2005 12:21 PM

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