January 10, 2009

When Terrorists Smile

Justin Katz

Mark Patinkin's reasonable on the Israel-Palestine conflict:

These were not rogue militants acting on their own. Gaza is now controlled by the extremist Hamas government. The missile firings were allowed, even encouraged, from on high.

At last, on Dec. 27, Israel launched a counterattack to stop the rockets.

Much of the coverage outside the United States has cast Israel as the belligerent villain responsible for killing innocents. There is little mention by sites like Al-Jazeera of how militants hide in mosques, schools and neighborhoods, firing from behind those shields. When Israel fires back, it is called a war crime.

I've emphasized a key sentence in the above, and a vignette in the New York Times comes to mind:

A car arrived with more patients. One was a 21-year-old man with shrapnel in his left leg who demanded quick treatment. He turned out to be a militant with Islamic Jihad. He was smiling a big smile. ...

"Don't you see that these people are hurting?" the militant was asked.

"But I am from the people, too," he said, his smile incandescent. "They lost their loved ones as martyrs. They should be happy. I want to be a martyr, too."

More than likely, this individual is, as Mark Steyn puts it, suffering from "a mental illness masquerading as a nationalist movement," but he might just as well have been smiling about the journalists' capturing the hospital scene. No doubt those above him in the Islamofascist ranks — safely ensconced in bunkers or even in other cities — were smiling because their well-practiced strategy is playing out once again.

Look, the various factions of Islamic fundamentalists have the game of the Middle East conflict down. They poke and provoke Israel until the nation responds; they wait for world opinion to grumble from within its stupor; and they declare that all they've really wanted was some small thing — some incremental step toward their end-Israel objectives.

Eventually it becomes a matter of survival to finally knock the weaselly bully out.

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>>"But I am from the people, too," he said, his smile incandescent. "They lost their loved ones as martyrs. They should be happy. I want to be a martyr, too.">>

Then the questioner pulled out a gun and shot one bullet between the militant's eyes.

"Wish granted."

Posted by: pitcher at January 10, 2009 11:08 PM

If your story is intended to be an allegory, the lesson seems to be to exercise raw power and brute force to solve the problem, the very definition of a bullying act. Most bullies assess the situation, determine that they have an advantage. and attempt to slug their way to a solution. I'd like to suggest that there is another side to the story, one that most of the world acknowledges. You disregard the recent Security Council vote calling for an immediate cease fire and instaed want to throw a haymaker.

Here is another view, which I hope will make you think again before you demand the clenched fist:

Just a few days after the bombing of Gaza started, my rabbi, Rabbi Brant Rosen here in Evanston, Illinois had the courage to write something on his blog* that may forever change his life, and the lives of those around him. As I read it, I could literally feel the earth shift beneath my feet. He said,
We good liberal Jews are ready to protest oppression and human-rights abuse anywhere in the world, but are all too willing to give Israel a pass. It's a fascinating double-standard, and one I understand all too well. I understand it because I've been just as responsible as anyone else for perpetrating it.
So no more rationalizations. What Israel has been doing to the people of Gaza is an outrage. It has brought neither safety nor security to the people of Israel and it has wrought nothing but misery and tragedy upon the people of Gaza.
The earth is shifting on this issue when the people to whom we look for guidance about right and wrong, people like Rabbi Brant, finally speak the truth- that killing will not bring peace. Not for the Israelis, not for the Palestinians, not for anyone. Many people from my own congregation, including my own daughter, wrote him to say "Thank you, thank you for finally saying these words out loud."
I felt something similar when I saw Jon Stewart on The Daily Show on Monday night. While almost all of the mainstream news in the United States has reported the story without any context whatsoever, repeating the lie that this is a simple case of Israel defending its people against irrational attacks, it was Jon Stewart, the main source of news for an entire generation of Americans, who got it right**.
He talked about the "soul-crushing" siege of Gaza, the occupation that has forced Palestinians to go through checkpoints to do anything at all, the perverse logic of trying to "get a war in" just before Obama's inauguration. When I watched this segment, I knew the earth was shifting. And I knew I had to thank Jon, and to make sure everyone I know watches his segment.
We all know that if every Jew in America said no to Israel's occupation of the Palestinians, it would still happen, because it is seen as serving the interests of our country's foreign interests. And it is supported by Christian fundamentalists who believe it is one step closer to the end times. That's why we all need to work together- every single one of us.
So thank Jon ... And then tell everyone you know to watch this video. Tell your friends that if it seems like what is happening now is wrong, that's because it is.
By the way, the last haunting words of Rabbi Brant's post were these: "There, I've said it. Now what do I do?"
At Jewish Voice for Peace, it's our mandate to answer that question. We're planning a broad-based response that we know will make a difference, and the heart of that response will be every single one of you. We'll ask you to have those conversations with everyone you know, to educate yourselves, to let the world know peace with justice is possible.
Stay tuned,
Lynn Pollack
Jewish Voice for Peace
submitted by OldTimeLefty

Posted by: OldTimeLefty at January 11, 2009 6:46 PM


Huh? The enemy comes in and states he wants to be a martyr. What's wrong with letting him have his wish? That's being a bully?

Posted by: pitcher at January 11, 2009 7:04 PM

You missed the point. The "enemy" (whose enemy, by the way?)has also said that he has certain complaints and you ignore them in your game of pick and choose, and then feign ignorance!You are advocating brute force, you are relishing its use and you are too eager to apply it. That is bullying.

Besides, you have made no comment on Lynn Pollack's letter, which addresses the problem in reasoned terms. If you want to act like a morally bankrupt person, that's your prerogative, but think of the damage that your intransigence engenders.

Posted by: OldTimeLefty at January 11, 2009 9:13 PM

No, I made no comment on the letter because I didn't read it and I still haven't. Don't really care to. All I know is that if the same people who attack the US and want everyone in the US killed wants to die, that's fine by me. I completely understand your compassion for US-haters, but that's just the liberal in you.

Posted by: pitcher at January 12, 2009 12:19 AM


Don't waste your time. Pitcher perfectly states that his mind is closed and that nothing else is entering any time soon. Justin justs falls back to Mark Steyn whom he clearly admires for his pithy phrases.
Does it surprise you that there is more criticism of Israel in Israel than here in the US. The left in Israel has quite a bit to say about their governments policies in the occupied territories and how the military is being used. Those voices don't get into the media here though and we should all question why. Thank you for the letter.

Posted by: phil at January 12, 2009 6:22 AM

Your "vignettes" are one sided and the issues involved are multi sided and complex. You are a Pitcher in sheep's clothing, covering your prejudices with rhetoric. Can you comment on Lynn Pollack's letter? I'd love to read it. Your pen pal,

Posted by: OldTimeLefty at January 12, 2009 4:32 PM

I for one read the letter. Thank you for posting it here. I don't know if there will ever be peace in the middle east, but I do pray for it to happen. Rabbi Brant Rosen has taken a very couragious step, to lead by example. It's a lesson most of us could benefit from. May it lead all those involved to a better place, a better life, a better world.

Posted by: bobc at January 12, 2009 7:16 PM
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