Immoral Equivalence

The conviction Monday of the murderers of Arab teen Mohamed Abu Khdeir highlights the difference between Israel’s zero-tolerance for the killing of innocents, and the Palestinians’ encouragement of terrorism against Jews.

A day after the funerals of Naftali Frenkel, Gilad Shaer and Eyal Yifrach, Hy”d, the three youths who were abducted and murdered the summer before last, an adult and two minors set out to “seek vengeance.” They found Abu Khdeir, 16, on a street in eastern Yerushalayim and brought him to the Yerushalayim Forest where they beat him unconscious and murdered him in the most heinous fashion.

With all the anger felt by the Israeli public at that time over the killing of the three boys, with the bitter disappointment felt by a nation that had poured out its heart in tefillah for their release, and had come to know and admire the brave parents, there was no support for the killing of that Arab boy. To the contrary, there was wall-to-wall revulsion.

Vengeance is in the hands of Hashem, not human beings. There is no sane person in Israel who would carry out such an act. Indeed, the only adult among the three killers has undergone a psychiatric evaluation whichvbnm found that he was not responsible for his actions at the time of the murder.

Compare this to what happens in Palestinian society when one of theirs murders a Jew. First, the governing power, the Palestinian Authority, actually encourages the killers by promoting an incitement campaign in the schools, the mosques and the media. Instead of educating toward peace, coexistence, the chance to build a better future in a Palestinian state living alongside Israel, they have taught from textbooks that don’t include a map of Israel and delivered impassioned sermons by imams holding knives and beseeching them to go out and murder Jews.

Second, Palestinian society doesn’t condemn the killings. To the contrary, it hails the murderers as heroes, naming city squares after them and paying salaries to them and their families throughout their prison sentences (the pay scale offers more to those who have killed more Jews). Palestinian leaders issue condemnations only after pressure is applied, and even then, it is half-hearted.

Third, while Jews see the Palestinian Arabs as people and feel pain at the murder of a youth like Abu Khdeir, or the family that was firebombed in Duma resulting in the loss of life of three family members, including an 18-month-old baby, the Palestinians celebrate. They distribute candies in the street. Not only do they not recognize Israel — pledging to return to Yafo, Haifa and Yerushalayim — they don’t recognize Jews as people with a basic right to live.

Fourth, when Palestinians kill Jews and know they’re going to get caught, they turn themselves in to the Palestinian Authority, where they know the judicial system will treat them with extreme lenience. There is no such thing with the Jewish terrorists. They are tried and punished in Israeli courts to the full extent of the law.

Finally, there is the difference of scope that cries out to the heavens. The number of Palestinians killed by Jews is infinitesimal compared to the number of Arabs who have killed Jews in terror attacks. Palestinian terror has claimed so many Jewish lives, has left so many widows and orphans, including Sarah Techiya Litman, who was married last week, without evoking any remorse from Arabs, not even those serving in the Knesset.

There are no human rights groups in the Palestinian Authority calling for peace with Israel, no Palestinian mothers calling on their compatriots to end the bloodshed.

Given all of this, it is infuriating to hear world leaders equate Arab terrorism with that of Jews and speak about “terrorism on both sides,” or ending the “cycle of terrorism.”

State Department spokesman John Kirby recently called on both Israel and the Palestinians to reduce tensions by ending “incitement.” If Israel is inciting to the murder of Palestinian civilians, it is obviously doing a very poor job of it.

But the immoral equivalence goes further. “Certainly, individuals on both sides of this divide have proven capable of and, in our view, are guilty of acts of terror,” Kirby said.

The three who murdered Abu Khdeir are guilty of a crime worse than murder. They are guilty of the worst possible chillul Hashem.

In convicting two of the three murderers of Abu Khdeir — and ordering an additional psychiatric evaluation that may lead to the conviction of the third — the courts are saying there is never any defense for murdering a young Arab boy, not even in the aftermath of the funeral of three youths who had won the hearts of the country.

It is high time that the nations of the world sit up and notice the difference between Arab terrorism, which is a national pastime, and Jewish terrorism, which is the act of the unbalanced few. To the contrary, it is a testament to Am Yisrael that despite all the murders it has endured, there have been so few instances of misplaced vengeance being sought.