Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Why aren't murdered Jewish children news anymore?

The silence from much of the world over the slaughter of the Fogel family in the West Bank is very telling. Apparently now, a murderer slitting the throat of a three-month old baby and a four-year and eleven-year old boys with their parents is cause for celebration among the Palestinians and averted eyes among Europeans. As Bret Stephens writes,
Just what kind of society thinks it's "natural" to slit the throats of children in their beds?

The answer: The same society that has named summer camps, soccer tournaments and a public square in Ramallah after Dalal Mughrabi, a Palestinian woman who in March 1978 killed an American photographer and hijacked a pair of Israeli buses, leading to the slaughter of 37 Israeli civilians, 13 children among them.
But Europeans are silent. And Stephens finds their silence as part of the tendency of European leftists to cheer some of the worst leaders of the past forty or fifty years.
But I also wonder whether a similar question will ever occur to the Palestinian movement's legion of fellow travelers in the West. To wit, how did they become so infatuated with a cause that they were willing to ignore its crimes—or, if not quite ignore them, treat them as no more than a function of the supposedly infinitely greater crime of Israeli occupation?

That's an important question because it forms part of the same pattern in which significant segments of Western opinion cheered Ho Chi Minh and Fidel Castro and Robert Mugabe and even Pol Pot. The cheering lasted just as long as was required to see the cause through to some iconic moment of triumph, and then it was on to the next struggle. It was left to others to pick up the pieces or take to the boats or die choking in their own blood.

Whether similar tragedies would unfold for Palestinians in the wake of their own "liberation" remains to be seen, though the portents—the experience of the postcolonial world generally and of the Gaza Strip specifically—aren't good.
As long as they can knock the western powers or the Israelis, there are no similar moral expectations for the behavior of the Palestinians. And that lack of moral demand has unleashed a society that celebrates and hands out candy to celebrate the murder of children.
Even worse is that Palestinians have grown accustomed to the waiver the rest of the world has consistently granted them over the years no matter what they do. Palestinians ought to have expectations of themselves if they mean to build a viable state. But their chances of doing so are considerably diminished if the world expects nothing of them and forgives them everything.

It is precisely in this sense that the frenzied international condemnation of Israeli settlements and settlers does the most harm. Having been accorded the part of George Orwell's Emmanuel Goldstein—perpetual target of the proverbial two minutes of hate—they have drained whatever capacity there was to hold Palestinian actions to moral account, to say nothing of our ability to understand the nature of a conflict that is more than simply territorial. The demonization of the settlers has made the world not only coarse but blind.
The moral degradation of these elites who will praise any thug as long as it gives them an opportunity to bash the West of Israel has led to a Palestinian culture that justifies slaughter and celebrates murder. These are the same people who danced in the street after 9/11. Do those silent European elites think that these dancing Palestinians wouldn't dance at the news of slaughter in European capital cities?

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