Along the Tracks

Friday, March 29, 2002

Terrorizing Jews

As I sit in The Leader office, looking out the big picture window onto Montpelier and the wider world, a darkening sky and rain harken back to another Friday after Passover long ago. Tension, confusion, cruelty and violence were the order of the day in Israel. Some things just refuse to change.

The comments I’ve read from most “world leaders” and some commentators in our own country on both the Right and the Left are calling on for an immediate cessation of hostilities and a return to the “peace process.” They are, of course, all directly aiming their statements at Israel, not Arafat and the Palestinians. They see Israel’s tanks rolling into Ramallah, yet somehow they missed the 22 civilians killed at a Passover Seder, the several settlers stabbed and killed on the West Bank, and the two shoppers blown to bits by another suicide bomber in Jerusalem - this all in the course of under 48 hours. What possibly could be the cause of this moral blindness?

The reaction of Arabs and the larger Islamic world is at least understandable: They are blatantly anti-Semitic. They teach it in their schools, run it in their newspapers, broadcast it on their television stations and sing about it in their pop songs. They hate Jews, simple as that.

The motivations of our “friends” is more difficult to discern. They live in an “enlightened” world, where crass stereotyping and scapegoating are supposed to be safely locked in the past. They are not beholden to religious directives by superiors that claim hatred as a matter of faith. Indeed, a large number would proudly claim the title of “bleeding-heart” (minus those like Pat Buchanan on the far Right, of course). So why does the same group which cries out for a cessation of bombing during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan stare straight past a direct attack on Jews during one of their most sacred ceremonies?

There can only be two possibilities. The first is a belief in “peace and stability at all costs.” For most in the anti-Israel crowd, this is probably the best description of their mindset. This “principle” bears some explanation.

For starters, “peace” does not mean a lack of violence, but merely a lack of state-initiated military action. By this definition, terrorism does not “disrupt the peace.” Thus, Israel is the problem at present.

“Stability” merely means an environment which does not interfere with trade. Suicide bombs can go off until kingdom come as long as the Middle East oil keeps flowing and France can keep helping Islamic theocracies with their nuclear reactors. It won’t affect the “stability” of the region - unless Israel does something crazy like blockade the territories and upset the oil cartel. Once again, a loss of “stability” would be Israel’s fault.

The real clincher is the “at all costs” part. The anti-Israel cabal hates to see innocent Israelis die - or for that matter, innocent Iraqis, girls in Saudi Arabia, Christians in the Sudan, etc. - but it is a sacrifice they are willing to make in the cause of “peace” and “stability.” “All costs” fall on those outside of the anti-Israel party and the dictators and thugs with whom they do business. Therefore the costs are bearable.

There are, however, a few for whom this first possibility does not hold water. They are not necessarily against military actions per se, are not economically entwined in the status quo and are inclined to support the downtrodden in other parts of the world. What of this small but present group?

Evil has a way of lurking. It doesn’t disappear, cannot be eliminated. It must constantly be chopped back, uprooted and burned. Among the worst expressions of human evil is racism, and perhaps the most robust form of racism is anti-Semitism. Despite the direct witness of the revolting horror of anti-Semitic hatred less than 60 years behind us, there are some who continue to be tempted by its power to unify the many against the few. They may not speak it directly but they send out the code words and feelers which draw together an unholy alliance which offers the opportunity to make a grab for political power. If not exposed, they will continue to build a coalition of evil right in our midst, aided by those duped into believing money comes before morality - the first group of which I spoke. We have seen what happens when the anti-Semites succeed: Sorrow, pain, blood and death for Jews, yes, but also for all other good and moral people on the planet. People of conscience must stand up to the stupidity of those who put faith in mammon and the evil of those who would fuel their rise to power on the blood of scapegoats.

Jesus was killed by the Romans to terrorize Jews who wished for independence (even if it was a spiritual independence that many, including the Romans, did not understand). Today, Jews continue to be killed for the exact same reason.

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