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Article by Irving Moskowitz

The Jewish Press
Vol. XLIV, No. 9
Week of March 4 to March 10, 1994
Adar 21 5754

The Real Lessons From Hebron

by Irving Moskowitz

When 241 American Marines were massacred by a Hezbollah car-bomber in Lebanon, the world was horrified - for a few days. Then the story faded from the headlines, the public lost interest, and before long, the State Department was again pressuring Israel to refrain from hitting Hezbollah bases for fear of "increasing tensions in the Middle East."

When 270 Americans aboard Pan Am flight 103 were massacred by an Arab terrorist bomb, the world was shocked - until evidence began to emerge that Syria and a faction of the PLO (the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine - General Command) were involved. Suddenly it became politically inconvenient to find out who was guilty. Those who are devoted to pressuring Israel to make concessions to the PLO and Syria - the United Nations, most of the media, and of course the State Department - immediately began drawing attention away from the PLO and Syria and focusing it on more convenient targets like Libya and Iran.

Yet when Arabs murder and maim Jews every day in Israel, and a lone Jewish man, overwhelmed by his grief over Arab terrorism, strikes at the Arabs - the hue and cry from around the world is deafening. Accusing fingers are pointed at all of Israel. The Israeli government is pressured to make concessions to the Arabs to "atone" for a deed it did not commit. There are calls to expel all Jews from Hebron, and from all of Judea and Samaria.

Of course all violence and killings are bad. In an ideal world, one could simply condemn all such behavior and that would suffice. But we donít live in an ideal world. We live in a world in which Israeli Jews are constantly victimized. Thirty-three Israeli Jews have been murdered since the signing of the Israel-PLO accord last September. Countless others have been injured. Jewish blood is shed every day in the land of Israel, although it does not often make it to the pages of the New York Times. Jewish holy places are frequently desecrated. In Hebronís Cave of the Patriarchs on the evening before the killings, a mob of Arabs disrupted the reading of the Megillah with shouts of "Itbach al-Yahud," or "Slaughter the Jews."

"Itbach al-Yahud" is a slogan that has special meaning for the Jews of Hebron. It was the rallying cry of the raging Arab mobs that tortured and slaughtered 59 Jews in Hebron in the summer of 1929. Not one lone individual, pushed over the edge by watching his friends die in his arms, but huge mobs of frenzied, hate-filled Arabs - in other words, virtually the entire Arab community was bent on massacring peaceful Jewish civilians.

If last weeks events in Hebron were to be judged by an American court the results would not be black and white. The American justice system, quite properly, takes into consideration the factors that drove the perpetrator to commit his deed. Those factors do not absolve the perpetrator of guilt - but they do define the level and quality of guilt. There was a hung jury in the trial of the Mendez brothers because of evidence that they acted out of fear and desperation due to years of abuse. Lorena Bobbitt was declared not guilty by reason of temporary insanity, after the jury found that what drove her to extreme behavior was the violence she had suffered from her husband. Surely a Jewish doctor who constantly treated victims of Arab terrorism, and who literally held in his arms his dying friends, would be found to have experienced as much suffering as the Lyle Mendezes and Lorena Bobbitts of this world.

In the wake of the latest violence, the Israeli government has announced tough new measures to enforce law and order. The problem is that the wrong people are being targeted. In the Arab-Israeli conflict it is the Arabs who are the aggressors, the Jews who are the victims. But the new decrees, which seem primarily designed to appease world opinion, are directed at the victims rather than the aggressors. Jews who have not killed anybody are being disarmed - while PLO terrorists, now called "Policemen," are being armed. Jews are being thrown into jail without charges, under the euphemism of "administrative detention," while 1,000 Arab terrorists who have engaged in anti-Jewish violence are being let out of jail. Jews who have committed no crime are to be prevented from living in Judea and Samaria - while PLO terrorists who have devoted their lives to attacking Israelis are being given control of Judea and Samaria. And all this comes at a time when the Israeli Army has already been with drawn from key roads and regions in the territories, depriving the Jewish residents of any meaningful security.

Rabinís crackdown on the Jews in the territories may be intended to establish law and order, but it is likely to achieve just the opposite. Making concessions demonstrates to the Arabs that Israel is weak, and that Israelis can be terrorized into making further concessions. Depriving the Jews of basic security makes them sitting ducks for Arab killers. Taking guns out of the hands of the Jews and putting them in the hands of the PLO guarantees that the terrifying cycle of Arab terrorism and Jewish retaliation will only continue.

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