Sunday, July 06, 2014

The Barbarians within Our Gate

Mohammed Abu Khudair (The Jewish Press)
First I want to clearly state that people are entitled to a trial and are presumed innocent until proven guilty. What I am about to say should be taken with that in mind. That said it unfortunately now appears that a terrible crime was committed by Jewish people.

If that is the case then woe is to us. How low the Jewish people have fallen. I feel like tearing Kriya. This is what one does upon the loss of a parent, a child, or other close relative. I am beyond anger. I am in state of grief. It appears that the young Palestinian boy was killed by Jews as an act of revenge.  From The AssociatedPress (via the CBC): 
Israeli authorities have arrested a number of Jewish suspects in the killing of a Palestinian teenager whose death set off days of violent protests in Arab areas of Jerusalem and northern Israel, an official said Sunday. 
It wasn’t just murder. It was a brutal torture murder.  An autopsy shows that 16 year old Mohammed Abu Khudair was burned alive. So badly burned was his body that DNA was used to confirm his identity. The boy was still breathing while he was burning… and died as a result of those burns.  Burns that covered 90% of his body.

His family must be in tremendous pain right now. Knowing the means of his death and the certain pain and suffering that he went through as he was dying must be unbearable. I don’t know how they can take it. Their precious young innocent child was captured, burned alive, and thrown into a ditch.

I did not think it was possible for any Jew to do something like this. We are not barbarians. Yes, Jews are human and capable of murder. And we are capable of revenge. But this kind of torture killing… I did not think any Jew was capable of. Least of all the supposedly idealistic settler type Jews that are so devoted to settling the land of Israel often at great personal sacrifice.  

They are not Mafia types who exact revenge against their rivals for personal gain. They are not street gangs fighting rival street gangs over turf to sell drugs. They are not drug crazed addicts looking for a fix. They did this for idealistic reasons… as an act of revenge. They must have purposely done it in a such brutal way to send the message, that Jewish blood is not cheap. 

No it isn’t. But this is not the way to send this message.

Justice is moving along swiftly for these killers. At least so far. If they are found guilty, no doubt they will be given mandatory life sentences with no possibility of parole (Israel has no death penalty). This may not bring solace to the family of Mohammed Abu Khudair. But it will at least bring some semblance of justice. I only hope the killers of the 3 Israeli teens can be found quickly and justice can be served quickly there too.

In the meantime the Arab street has gone mad. In this particular instance, I can’t say that I blame them. This morning I saw a video of some Israeli police badly beating a young Arab American who is a cousin of Mohammed Abu Khudair. That too was difficult to watch. Fortunately there was no permanent damage done to him. I am not going to judge that because videos like that can be deceiving and was possibly heavily edited.  Israeli Ambassador to the US,  Ron Dermer  responded with the following:
Dermer said his country condemns the use of excessive force but that Tariq Khdeir “was not an innocent bystander pulled out of school yard.” He said Khdeir was masked and joined several others in attacking police. “But that doesn’t excuse the use of excessive force,” Dermer added.
That incident will be investigated. Nonetheless the video will - in the minds of the Palestinian in the street – add insult to injury and potentially increase the violence against us. If any Jews are further hurt by Palestinian reaction to all this, it will all accrue to those who perpetrated the heinous murder of that young teenage Palestinian. So much for showing the Arabs that Jewish blood is not cheap.

Woe to our people that we have sunk to such a low that those who are idealistic among us can do such a thing. I am not one to call for introspection. But in this case, I think we need to. How is it possible that any Jew would think that something like this is justified? Even if revenge were somehow to be justified, it should be directed to the guilty, not the innocent!

The community from which these suspects came need to ask themselves that question.  I do not dismiss the century of Arab hatred of the Jew that causes Jews in Israel to feel persecuted. Especially after the Holocaust. But there is a right way and a wrong way to handle that. The right way is to build up a country that can protect its citizens from harm with a physical army and a spiritual one. A society that is just. Israel has done that. No it is not foolproof since from time to time innocent people are killed. But nothing is ever 100%. And what these people did doesn’t change that. It does the opposite!

What has happened here has casued great harm to the Jewish people. Not just the potential physical harm that inciting Palestinians causes, but the  spiritual harm of any Jew thinking that torturing and murdering innocent people is ever OK. I am not in a position to say whether they have lost their Olam Habah. But I’m not sure what kind of Teshuva can be done to atone for something like this.

We cannot allow ourselves to become savages. We are not barbarians. We are a holy people. And we should not tolerate those who undermine that holiness with barbaric acts - or those who support them. Nor should we tolerate those whose ideals can lead some of them to do something like this.  

Just as we were united for 18 days with respect to the 3 murdered teens, so too should we be united now with respect to educating the entire Jewish public that acts like these are beyond a Chilul HaShem. It is cold blooded torture and murder. And it will never be tolerated under any conditions. Rabbinic leaders from all stripes need to reinforce that in the minds of every single Jew.

Four innocent young people were brutally killed last week. Four families now suffer the personal loss in brutal ways of their innocent children. In an odd way, they are all now united in grief because of the extremists among them. It would be a wonderful show of sympathy if the Jewish parents of those 3 boys would somehow meet with the Palestinian parents of Mohammed Abu Khudair. It would show the world that not only is Jewish blood not cheap, neither is Arab blood.

There is no longer any doubt. From JTA:
Three of the six suspects arrested in the July 2 kidnapping and murder of 16-year-old Mohammad Khdeir of eastern Jerusalem to avenge the slaying of three Israeli teens have confessed to the crime and reenacted burning and dumping the body in the Jerusalem forest, Israeli media reported Monday.
There are no words...