Eight young men, unarmed and in the relative security of their Jerusalem yeshiva, are gunned down in cold blood. In Gaza, thousands take to the streets to celebrate. Their government encourages them to do so.
How toxic is a society when the governing party suggests celebrating a massacre of teenaged boys?
The brutality of Thursday's massacre at the Mercaz Harav Yeshiva exposes some ugly truths about the blood lust that has been fostered by leaders in Palestinian society and the unwillingness of most American Muslim political organizations and the mainstream media to confront it.
When the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development (HLF) is accused of raising money for Hamas terrorism, the defendants and their allies say they merely sought to relieve Palestinian suffering. But the silence from the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA) and others shows their unwillingness to condemn the terrorist act and its glorification.
The best hope to alleviate the suffering of Palestinians is to stand against the cycle of violence, not to be complicit in its continuation. That requires a loud and persistent call from American Muslims for Hamas to stop deliberately inciting Israel. That incitement is not the biased perspective of those of us who oppose terrorism, but of former Hamas foreign minister Mahmoud Zahar:
Rockets against Sderot will cause mass migration, greatly disrupt daily lives and government administration and can make a much huger impact on the government.
No country would accept showers of incoming rocket fire without responding. Israel did just that Feb. 27, in an operation targeting Hamas terrorists that killed 120 people. Sadly, dozens of civilians also were killed.
This triggered no celebration in Israel and the operation ended within days.
Every life lost is a tragedy. But to pretend there's a moral equivalence between the attacks which set out to kill innocents versus those in which civilians are caught in the crossfire is a cruel joke that serves only to perpetuate the violence and keep any hope of peace a distant fantasy. In its rocket barrages and in the yeshiva attack, civilians are the target.
In an editorial, the Jerusalem Post points out the distinction.
Article 28 of the Fourth Geneva Convention states, "The presence of a protected person [a civilian] may not be used to render certain points or areas immune from military operations." In other words, the idea that Israel must fight Hamas without endangering civilians is contrary to the letter and spirit of international law.
But the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC) tries to blur the vastly different motivations, describing Thursday's attack as "the recent situation in Jerusalem" and using the opportunity to condemn "all forms of violence regardless of the background of the culprits or the victims." Its statement continued:
Experts in the region are asserting that what happened in Jerusalem today was retaliation for the killing of over 120 (Palestinians) in Gaza last week. Whether true or not, it is the U.S. government's responsibility to assert its leadership role in ending the violence now.
What "experts" are these, beyond MPAC officials and Hamas sympathizers? The Action Alert urged people to call their congressmen, "to demand that Israel halt its brutal round of violence against the citizens of Gaza."
It made no call for anyone to demand Hamas cease firing Qassam rockets into Israel. According to Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, "1,018 rockets and 937 mortar bombs have been fired at Sderot and the western Negev" since Hamas took control of Gaza in June.
CAIR, an unindicted co-conspirator in the HLF trial, has been silent on the attack. MAS issued no statement, but did postpone a planned rally outside the Israeli embassy in Washington. It wasn't out of deference for the murder victims, rather, a release said "It has come to our attention that heavy rains are expected throughout the afternoon and the rush hour."
CAIR has been exposed by evidence at the HLF trial as part of a "Palestine Committee" operating in America on behalf of the Muslim Brotherhood. The committee's objective is to advance the Hamas agenda in the United States. Hamas' stated goal is the elimination of the state of Israel. It accepts no negotiated settlement in which the Jewish state survives.
When American Muslim organizations refuse to condemn Hamas, they sign on to a charter that sees violence as the only "solution" to the conflict.
Give credit, however, to MAS civil and human rights director Ibrahim Ramey. He posted a column about the yeshiva attack Friday, asking:
Should Muslims in the United States also feel a sense of joy and vindication? No. We must recognize the attack for what it was: an act of murder. And we must now ask ourselves the difficult question of how we, as activists in support of the people of Gaza and Palestine, can go forward in the wake of an act of senseless brutality that could threaten to derail some significant support for the cause of ending the occupation and respecting the human rights of the people in Gaza and the West Bank.
While Ramey is concerned about the reaction, he seems equally worried about public relations damage "by opponents who are all too anxious to equate the Palestinian cause with savagery and terrorism."
Also encouraging was MAS President Esam Omeish, who previously praised Palestinians for learning "the jihad way is the way to liberate your land." He posted a statement on his blog Thursday condemning "in the highest manner the violence the slaughter of the 15 & 16 year old students that took place in Jerusalem. Sadistic violence like this has no place in our religion and is certainly not ‘heroic.'"
Apparently, it wasn't a terrorist attack either. At least not according to major American newspapers. In its story on the yeshiva massacre, the New York Times used the word terrorist only when quoting an Israeli government official and referred to the killer as a "gunman" four times, not including the headline.
The Washington Post also decided a Hamas-claimed attack on eight Jewish students was not a terrorist attack, but the work of a "gunman." The Post, however, did note the glee the indiscriminate murder generated in Gaza:
Hamas, the radical Islamic movement that controls Gaza, praised the Jerusalem attack. "It was a natural response to Israeli crimes in Gaza," the organization said in a statement. "We bless this act. It won't be the last one." Thousands of Palestinians in Gaza City celebrated in the streets, firing guns into the air in jubilation, as word began to spread.
This is the Hamas that CAIR, MPAC, MAS and virtually every other national Muslim political group refuse to condemn. Until they do, nothing will change.
The same is true for the poison spewed forth daily on Palestinian media, teaching toddlers to strive for "martyrdom" while spewing vile toward Israel. Where are these self-appointed leaders of the Muslim American community speaking out against the Palestinian culture that fosters such a blood lust? Where is a program teaching the next generation the benefits of peace?
Hamas-controlled television has introduced a series of death-glorifying, bloodthirsty children's characters on "Tomorrow's Pioneers." They include Farfour, a Mickey Mouse look-alike who CNN described as dancing "with an imaginary gun in his gloved hands and encourages kids to drink milk, study hard -- and engage in violent acts of ‘resistance' against their Israeli neighbors and America."
Farfour was "martyred" last June after trying to liberate the land "from the filth of the criminal, plundering Jews," only to be replaced by Nahoul, a bee who wants to follow Farfour's path "of heroism, of martyrdom, and of the muijahideen." Nahoul's death was shown to Palestinian children last month, a result of the blockade on Gaza.
He was replaced by a rabbit named Assud, who tells children "I, Assud, will get rid of the Jews, Allah willing. And I will eat them up, Allah willing, right?"
Then there's "The Gifted," a back-to-school program that showed a small boy, identified as a 2-year-old, skulking around in military garb and aiming an assault weapon "at the occupying terrorists."
"We'll wear the battle-vest of self sacrifice and follow the path of the Shahids," a child narrator says as the younger boy, his face hooded, stoops down with his weapon.
Showcasing these indoctrinations of hate and death, the duplicity of groups like CAIR in standing by Hamas, often brings back accusations of bigotry. And the death toll climbs.
An Israeli was injured by yet another rocket attack Thursday night. Who will demand it all stop?