An Arab Palestinian child, a one-and-a-half year-old baby, was killed and four other people were wounded as a result of an arson attack on a house in the village of Duma, northeast of Ramallah. To the best of our knowledge the perpetrator of this horrific crime has yet to be named or arrested. Whoever committed this crime should pay dearly for their crime whether Jew or Arab and that is the truth. The international outcry and the hand wringing within the Knesset, the President’s residence and from the Prime Minister is righteous anger and is completely and honestly expressed, or at least we pray their concern is as they have acted. The strange thing is that this is what it took to get them to condemn violence against people simply out of what we have thus far assumed was interracial violence out of pure hate. It is refreshing to have them demonstrate such human emotion and abhorrence to such violence but it begs a question, why all of a sudden and only now when their public outcry had been muted by comparison when the perceived violence has been in the other direction. Before waiting for the answer, allow me to try and see if I can venture a guess. It is due to the apparent first instinct that this was committed by a Jew against the family whose house was incinerated and whose infant died as a result of this criminal and hateful act and that is an aberration and completely unacceptable by Jewish laws and we are shocked beyond words so instead we issue an avalanche of condemnations even before we know who committed this crime.
May the wounded be given speedy and total recovery from their wounds by the tender mercies of Hashem as any human suffering is to be eased wherever and whenever possible. May the perpetrator of this heinous crime be caught and brought to trial for this crime. Beyond that there is little we can honestly assume or conclude in order to condemn this act with any more or less severity than we could have any other such horrific act where the life of one so young was snuffed out so early that they barely were able to get beyond the innocent amazement moment to moment as the wonders of the world were unfolding beyond their curious eyes and experiencing new sounds at every bird chirp or leaves rustling in a breeze. Such a senseless loss of one so innocent is always seemingly more horrific a loss but a life taken is a life taken and when it occurs accidently it is a tragedy and when done as a result of an act with malicious intent it crosses into abhorrence and our shock is doubled. This should be true no matter whose infant is so cruelly taken and the mourning should be just as heartfelt whether the loss is a Jewish child or a Arab child as a child so young has no hatred within them and only wonder. Much of the reaction to this loss by the Jewish leadership is due to the shock at the possibility that this act of spite and hatred may have been committed by a Jew making this a truly shocking act in an additional manner. I understand that should this have been an act resulting from an act of a Jew they are to be spit out of our community and ostracized for committing an act unacceptable no matter the reason motivating the individual.
That is the difference and why the reactions appear to be so out of place and amplified beyond our normal reaction to violence taking the life of an infant, an innocent from amongst the families of all mankind. We as Jews suffer the end of the life of an innocent whenever such occurs in our neighborhood for we love life and abhor senseless death of any kind. When it becomes apparent that such taking of a life of an innocent may have been committed by another Jew our abhorrence for the act is increased astronomically as we all feel we are guilty by association. We are reacting to the possibility that the stain of this act may fall on our heads as we are all to some extent feeling the extra pain of responsibility. There is the truth behind the reactions we are witnessing within our community. If the perpetrator of this horrific act does indeed turn out to be a fellow Jew there will be no candies handed out in our streets, no street named for this shameful person, no celebratory parades honoring this act, no praise for a victory in some perceived struggle, and no excuses made as we will meter out justice probably with just that extra amount of force and severity in the punishment and all because we, each and every Jew, feel the abhorrence and pain that such an act could emanate from amongst our community. This is what is behind the gnashing of teeth and the heads hung in shame.
What is also apparent are the reactions from outside Israel which came and each one felt as if the target was each and every Jew in Israel. The truth is that many of the accusatory fingers were pointed in just that accusatory manner blaming the entirety of Israel for this crime. That is what was different in the outside world’s reaction to this murder, an extra seeming feeling that this lost life was somehow worth just a little more of a loss than the deaths of previous infants. There were true expressions of pain and somehow no call for restraint as they expected and desired no restrain, just a wholly vindication as this one potential criminal act if perpetrated by a Jew now vindicated every crime committed against the Jews as they are now deserved. This outcry from the rest of the world was the equal of the outcry for the death of Mohammed al Dura and the special editing performed by some French media to the taping of the event in order to make it appear to fit the scripted tragedy which never occurred. When the investigation eventually revealed the hoax the reaction by much of the world was a big sigh and the comment that well, it could have been real. There is a continuing outcry heard in Europe and the United States at rallies against Israel where the cry goes out demanding remember ‘al Dura’ and the appropriate yells abound.
Now there will be an echoing outcry for this loss and all the more so should the evil person who committed this crime prove to be a Jew and even continued if not committed by a Jew because a Jew was suspected of committing this criminal act. This additional outcry is the result of the need to blame the Jews so that the next fifty such crimes against Jewish children will be excused because of the incrimination abounding now, simply because this may have been an act of Jewish terrorism and thus so much more of an abhorrence. Remember why it is such a greater abhorrence if a Jew committed this horrific act, it is a greater abhorrence because it flies against everything that is expected of Jews to never take an innocent’s life. The difference in the outcry against this act as it stands as potentially an act of Jewish hate is decried by both the outside world condemning this act and the equally loud condemnations from the Jews who doubly are outraged by this possible act by one of our own. When the victim has been a Jewish child the outcry usually comes only from inside the Jewish community while the outside community denounces the act couched within a demand for diminished action and for understanding of the motivations of the perceived act of vengeance more so than an act of hate.
There is the difference as the Jewish community is in a search of our communitive soul seeking where the cancer of hate may have invaded and we seek to excise this hate before its vileness has the chance to spread. Jews react with horror at even the possibility that such an act could have come from within our societal body and we seek it out in order to remove it from the body of our community and fulfil the act of punishment of the perpetrator and punishment we will mete out to ourselves as if a Jew committed this barbarism then we all have a small part in this act of animalistic hate. As Jews we feel the responsibility of our community when such hatred appears to have emanated from one of our own and we seek to find and denounce the perpetrator of this crime. We refuse to accept any excuse from within our community as such barbarity is never to be accepted from a Jew, and this is the additional outcry from every corner. The sorrow is that similar calls for communal purging are seldom made when the act is in the opposite direction. We are witnessing the long held belief that ‘Arab Palestinian Lives Matter’ and they apparently matter more if a Jew is to blame for their death. On the other hand we seldom see the opposite that ‘Jewish Lives Matter’ being expressed anywhere outside the Jewish community as a reaction to equivalent acts against Jews as there is always some mitigating reason which makes the act against a Jewish life somehow partly the fault of the Jews, even if it is only for being the victim.
How many people remember an act of equal if not superior barbarism in Itamar? How about the overturned car resulting from a rock attack on a vehicle on Route 60 near Hevron which took two lives, one not quite two years in age? Does anyone remember the tragic last year of the life of Adelle Biton who was struck in the head by a rock crashing through the family car window in an ambush where we eventually were to learn that the infant barely two years old was actually targeted when the gang of youths saw a child in an infant seat in the back of the car. The young Adelle Biton hung on to life for a little over a year succumbing to her wounds just after her third birthday. The list of Jewish children murdered are never listed as reasons to mitigate the criminal act such as this case because their deaths are irrelevant except as a metric to understand the difference in the reactions both within and outside the Jewish community and within the Arab community. The contrast that needs be made is the official reaction over time between the criminal, vicious and murderous act against an Arab child will be echoed on by those choosing to exploit those rare, though not rare enough, acts of hatred potentially by a Jew compared to an apparently similarly motivated criminal act brought against a Jewish child where immediately upon it being committed by somebody from outside the Jewish community the uproar consists more towards the demand that the Jews just suck it up and take it as just another act of senseless violence.
In a different look, Iosif Vissarionovich Dzhugashvili, also known as Joseph Stalin, has been credited with making the callous statement that, “One death is a tragedy, a million deaths merely a statistic.” While a slightly differently quote attributed only as coming from a Frenchman in a review written by Charles J. Rolo writing in “The Atlantic Bookshelf” section of the magazine claimed the quote was, “Scourges as immense as fascism and war present the novelist with a knotty problem of ways and means. A Frenchman has aptly remarked that ‘a single man killed is a misfortune, a million is a statistic.’” Giving credit once again to Stalin when as Commissar of Munitions during a meeting of what was described as some of the highest ranking Commissars discussing the continued deaths from hunger in the Ukraine, as the figures were being listed Stalin interrupted exclaiming vociferously, “If only one man dies of hunger, that is a tragedy. If millions die, that’s only statistics.” In another instance during an interview where Stalin was questioned by Lady Astor presumably with George Bernard Shaw present according to the article in the Christian Science Monitor dated 1932, as she queried, “Mr. Stalin, how long are you going to continue killing people?” to which Stalin calmly and sternly replied, “As long as it is necessary.” The original quote of “One death is a tragedy, a million deaths merely a statistic,” can be said to apply as an explanation of the uproar largely due to the suspicions that this heinous crime was perpetrated by a Jew places it in the “single death being a tragedy,” while the murdering of Jewish infants or children fall under, thanks to a long history of such events being merely recorded rather than denounced and protested, fall into the category of “a million deaths merely a statistic.
My last commentary will be on the reported quotes of the graffiti found at the scene of the arson attack where the scrawling were in Hebrew, not necessarily damning by itself, but still the main lead putting the sleuths to seek a Jewish perpetrator, as only Jews are capable of writing on walls of crime scenes in Hebrew. The graffiti, which according to Walla! News read “יחי מלך המשי” which translates to, “long live King Messiah” as well as the word “revenge” while next to each phrase was the Jewish star. Revenge is a universal concept and is more often than not insufficient an excuse for taking matters into one’s own hands. Revenge can be the motivation for any arsonist though arson is rather peculiar method for extracting revenge though such has been the case. The other quote, “יחי מלך המשי”which translates to, “long live King Messiah” strikes me as somewhat odd as in Judaism the Mashiach has yet to come, though we are to live our lives as if he will appear in the next moment such as we have no way of determining the arrival of the Mashiach and thus must always be in a state of holiness just in case the improbable occurs and the Mashiach were to appear. Since the Mashiach, the Messiah, has yet to arrive one really cannot wish them long life and anyways, the Mashiach is an eternal entity and thus has infinite life, or at least life for as long as there is existence which we all pray is infinite despite the mutterings of physicists and astronomers or, dare we say, astrophysicists. I may be out on a limb all by myself on this one but it just struck me as rather a strange thing to write, especially at the scene of a horrific act of arson and murder. Hopefully the perpetrator of this unspeakable horror which caused the death of a one-and-a-half year-old baby be brought to justice and through the ordeal learn that revenge lies not in our hands but only in the hands of the state and ultimately in the care by Hashem.
Beyond the Cusp