November 23, 2014
It does not matter whether they are Muslims, Palestinians, or Israelis. It does not matter if they are with or without strong religious or righteous beliefs. A murderer is a murderer.
Reb Saunders: “The world kills us! The world flays our skin from our bodies and throws us to the flames! The world laughs at Torah! And if it does not kill us, it tempts us! It misleads us! It contaminates us! It asks us to join in its ugliness, its impurities, its abominations!”
Reuven’s father: “Reuven, the silence between Danny and Reb Saunders. It is continuing?”
His face was sad. “A father can bring up a child any way he wishes, “he said softly. “What a price to pay for a soul.”
‒Quotes from The Chosen by Chaim Potok
Anything anyone can say or write about the hatred, ugliness, and violence that defines politics in the Middle East is trite in comparison with the reality of daily life in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Libya, as well as Jerusalem, Gaza, and the West Bank.
We want to do something to treat the insanity, end the suffering of so many innocent people, the senseless, pointless, endless killing.
The hideous truth is that killers are alien life forms that feed on the misery they inflict on others.
They are a twisted version of Descartes: I hate, therefore I am.
They live to hurt the people they hate.
They enjoy killing.
And here’s the thing: it makes them feel righteous. Avenging angels, no less.
What they think they are: Ascendant. Pure. Powerful.
What they really are: Devils. Demonic. Delusional.
Who ARE these people? They are NOT Arabs or Jews. They are NOT Muslims or Palestinians. They are NOT Israelis.
So who are they?
The reason we don’t know who they are is that we can’t agree on what they are.
They are thugs. Hamas. Hezbollah. ISIS. They’re Jewish hate groups who carry out “price tag” attacks on Muslims and Christians and deface walls in Jerusalem with “Jesus is garbage” and other viscerally offensive graffiti.
They’re all the same under the skin. Cold-blooded murderers who think nothing of killing Rabbis praying in a Jerusalem synagogue, kidnapping and torturing Israeli teenagers – Eyal Yifrach, Gilad Shaar, and Naftali Frankel – for no other reason “crime” than being Jewish.
They are sadists who grab a young idealistic medical worker, hold him in captivity while his parents in the US plead for his life, then behead him and put the horrifying videotape on Facebook.
Or they are Lehava (Flame), hate-filled fanatics who call themselves Jews, Zionists, the Chosen. Murderers and sanctimonious purveyors of pure poison who dare to call Rueven (Ruvi) Rivlin, Israel’s president, a man who has built a political career on his reputation as a passionate Zionist, a “disgusting sycophant,” “rotten filth,” “traitor,” and “President of Hezbollah.” They are the right-wing thugs who beat up Asaaf Sharon, a Jewish liberal activist, and whose slogan is, “A Jew is a Blessed Soul, an Arab is a Son of a Whore.”
Murder By Any Other Name…
Don’t call them terrorists. It suggests they have a real cause, possibly even one with which we are in sympathy. Of course, we don’t agree with their methods, but…
See what I mean?
Let’s be clear: They are barbarians. Monsters who grabbed a 16-year-old Palestinian boy, Abu Khdeir, walking down the street, choked him until he stopped struggling, beat his head to a bloody pulp with a crowbar, then poured gasoline over his body and burned him – the postmortem indicated that he was still alive as he burned.
The world is told the perpetrators were Jews. Sympathizers will say they were acting on a Biblical injunction. Exodus 21:24-25 to be exact: “…an eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth, hand for a hand, foot for a foot.”
Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.
They are all thrill-killers. Nothing better.
And there is nothing worse.
To say such monsters are Jews or Muslims, Palestinians or Israelis, totally misses the point. It clouds our thinking, confuses the issue, and diverts our attention from the fact that under the skin they are all alike. It suggests that sadistic killers have something essential in common with the broad community of Jew or Muslims.
Who of sound mind believes that cold-blooded murderers are representative of any religious or ethnic group? Of Jews and Israelis as a people? Of Muslims or Arabs?
We all have to stop calling them anything other than what they. That applies with special force to Jews and Muslims and Palestinians and all other Arabs who treat the murderers they spawn as heroes or simply do nothing, say nothing, and pretend to see nothing.
To call the thugs who commit these unspeakable acts Jews or Muslims is a terrible disservice to both Jews and Muslims.
In a just world, the self-absolving politicians, journalists, media personalities, and other opinion leaders who do not actively try to identify, isolate, and remove these killers from the civil society that sustains them would be held accountable, too.
But the world isn’t just and that isn’t going to happen. Neither is peace in the Middle East going to happen. The murder and mayhem is only going to get worse because the hatred that feeds it continues to spread like the cancer that it is.
In Tunis, where the New York Times reports, “the lure of extremism has touched virtually every part of society, men and women, the poor and the comfortable alike,” five young women (!) were last month killed in an anti-terrorist raid, including 21-year old the Henda Saidi whom her distraught mother described as “obsessed”.
The killing will continue for generations to come. That’s not a prediction; it’s a projection based on the trajectory of modern Middle East history in general – and Palestine, in particular – over the past century.
Face it. There’s no hope for peace in the Middle East, full stop. Not now and not in the imaginable future.
Until we, the many, come to recognize what we all have in common as a species, the few among us, they who utterly debase the coin of humanity and will doom the Middle East – including Israel – to the hellish nightmare it is today.
And there will be no peace in the world. Or, for that matter, in that dark and turbulent place we call our Selves.
It’s the price we pay for a soul…
Bio: Thomas Magstadt earned his Ph.D. at The Johns Hopkins University School of International Studies. He is the author of "An Empire If You Can Keep It: Power and Principle in American Foreign Policy," "Understanding Politics: Ideas, Institutions and Issues," and "Nations and Governments: Comparative Politics in Regional Perspective." He was a regular contributor to the Prague Post in 1998-99 and has published widely in newspapers, magazines and journals in the United States. He was a Fulbright Scholar in the Czech Republic in the mid-1990s and a visiting professor at the Air War College in 1990-92. He has taught at several universities, chaired two political science departments, and also did a stint as an intelligence analyst at the CIA. He is a member of the board of the International Relations Council of Kansas City. Now working mainly as a free-lance writer, he lives in Westwood Hills, Kansas.