By Chaskel Bennett
Another in a series of horrific terrorist attacks was perpetrated this past week against innocent Jewish worshippers in the heart of Jerusalem. President Obama, to his credit, immediately condemned the attack but, as has become the norm, concluded with the usual call for restraint on both sides. “Tragically, this is not the first loss of life that we have seen in recent months,” the president said. “Too many Israelis have died. Too many Palestinians have died. . . . I urge both sides to work together to lower tensions.”
To be sure, Mr. Obama’s swift condemnation was appreciated and justified, but it is deeply disturbing that each new attack against innocent Jews seems to be met with preposterous calls for “restraint” and a plea for “both sides” to lower tensions. Both sides of what, exactly? Terrorists hardly shudder from the hyperbole of Mr. Obama or Ban Ki-moon. These calls are crafted to handcuff Israel and numb any appropriate response, and they always hit their mark. Israeli leaders, no matter how strident, must take heed of the American administration.
Well-known Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz didn’t mince words in strongly criticizing the president’s statement. “It was moral equivalence. It was the wrong statement. It had all the wrong tone. It had all the wrong content. At this point in time, you unilaterally condemn only the Palestinian Authority and Hamas for incentivizing and inciting this kind of thing. You don’t bring it together with how many Palestinians may have died because they were being used as human shields.”
The UN, for its part, has continuously failed in distinguishing right from wrong or decisively siding with good over evil. It bears enormous culpability for the escalation in Palestinian and global Islamic mayhem. Moral equivalence is the calling card employed by callous diplomats and professionally applied at the UN and, regrettably, by our own State Department. It has proven to be a dreadful approach with devastating consequences. It was an absurd application when teenagers Naftali Frenkel, Eyal Yifrach, and Gilad Sha’ar were abducted and murdered this past summer. It was misused and abused during the ensuing Hamas missile onslaught that terrorized hundreds of thousands across Israel. And it is dead wrong today. Jews are always the target and the world refuses to admit it and confront it.
Barely mentioned in the purposefully ignorant international news media is a marked rise of brazen attacks by Palestinian terrorists that has led to the deaths and severe injuries of many Jewish civilians over the past several weeks. Cars and trucks are now intentionally targeting pedestrians in Jerusalem and knife attacks are on an alarming rise across Israel. Mercifully, suicide bombings, long the trademark of Palestinian terror groups, have so far been prevented, but for how long?
The depraved attack in a Har Nof synagogue now confirms the obvious. Jews are no longer safe anywhere, even at dawn in a quiet synagogue in West Jerusalem. Diplomacy in the guise of moral equivalence has again short-changed and betrayed the Jewish people. Brutal honesty is required to match the brutality of Jew-hatred, and Americans, especially Jews, need to hear their president say it. So does the world.
Palestinians point to recent provocations by Temple Mount activists as the root cause of the violence. While those agenda-driven advocates may be a convenient scapegoat, the long history of Arab terror against Jews says otherwise. Who is to blame for the murder of Naava Applebaum, blown up in a Jerusalem café alongside her father, the night before her wedding? How do terrorists legitimize the Sbarro pizza shop suicide bombing during lunch hour? What possible Israeli “sin” justified the massacre of seven young students at Merkaz Harav Yeshiva? And the awful list goes on and on. In no rational universe does the ascent of a handful of Jews on the Temple Mount (ironically, against the explicit edicts of senior Jewish religious decisors) explain, let alone justify, thousands of Arab attacks on Jews over the past century.
When the Fogel family was slaughtered by terrorists a few years ago, their perceived “capital crime” was peacefully living in the West Bank town of Itamar. It is clear to any impartial observer that the Fogels’ residence in a settlement outside an imaginary colored line was merely a pretext for their brutal slaughter. It would have mattered not had they lived in Jerusalem, Casablanca, Buenos Aires, or Brooklyn. Jewish blood has always been cheap. Call it the way it is: the Fogels were murdered for being Jewish. Naftali, Eyal, and Gilad were shot at point-blank range because they were Jewish. Three-month-old Chaya Zisel Braun was run over and murdered last month because she was Jewish. And yes, in case there was any doubt, Rabbi Moshe Twersky, Rabbi Aryeh Kupinsky, Rabbi Kalman Levine, and Rabbi Avrohom Goldberg were butchered by ax-wielding fanatics because they were Jewish.
Reminiscent of Nazi Germany, the wanton murder and maiming of innocents, wrapped in their prayer shawls during early-morning prayers, is due to pure and unadulterated hatred. This massacre was fueled, as these attacks always are, by the hatred of Jews that permeates the Arab and Muslim world. The heinous rhetoric broadcast throughout the Islamic media—encouraged and incited by “moderate” Arab leaders—inevitably cheapens all life and leads to enormous bloodshed. No peace talks, bilateral accords, or calls for restraint can alter this unfortunate and undeniable truth. The Temple Mount today, Jewish settlements before that; the Arabs’ only trigger is self-evident—their virulent anti-Semitism.
Those diplomats who issue shallow condemnations, qualified by equivocations and rationalizations, are partially guilty of facilitating this hatred. Equally guilty are intellectuals who dangerously equate the murder of innocent civilians with the unavoidable deaths of innocent children intentionally used by cowards as human shields.
So as Jews once again bury their dead and a climate of fear reemerges on Israeli streets, leaders of civilized nations must know that all of humanity, not just Jews, have been betrayed by a flawed and failed diplomatic system that propagates moral equivalence and enables further Islamic terror.
Chaskel Bennett is a New York City activist who serves on the boards of national and communal Jewish organizations. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.