In the evening, before I go to sleep, I enjoy listening to Rabbi Yaakov Spivak’s program on the Talkline Communications Network. Last week Rabbi Spivak expressed concern about a CNN program produced by Christiane Amanpour titled “God’s Jewish Warriors.” I posted a couple of critiques from CAMERA and HNN yesterday.
The three-part program—the other two being on Christians and Muslims—was an effort at painting religious zealots with the same sordid brush of extremism, intransigence, and violence. Rabbi Spivak was especially incensed by the equation of a small, marginal, and prosecuted group of individuals (violent Jewish extremists) with broad-based political movements whose ethnic and national representation are based on shedding Jewish blood. I am referring, of course, to Hamas, Fatah, Islamic Jihad, etc. etc. etc.
I finally had a chance to view the video online—I don’t have CNN at home—and felt the need to post. My main concern—and it is an incredibly important point—is that Jewish extremists are a marginalized group in Israeli society. If these zealot settlers had such immense political power, they never would have been forced out of Gaza. As we all know, they were. Further, when Jewish extremists commit acts of violence, they are tried in Israeli courts and face a prison sentence. On a political level, Jewish groups and parties that advocate violence against Palestinians, such as Kahanist organizations, are illegal in Israel.
Contrast this with the situation in Gaza, Judea and Samaria (or, the Occupied Territories, if you prefer). Among Palestinians, violent organizations are accepted as legitimate political entities. Indeed, in the last democratic elections held in Gaza, a majority of residents voted for Hamas, a party that openly calls for the murder of Jews in its platform. Political violence against Jews is accepted and encouraged. The perpetrators of these acts do not face any court sentence or condemnation by the broader society. To the contrary, terrorists are celebrated as heroes and martyrs in Palestine. This is not a minority view, this is the mainstream perspective.
That’s why so many Jews are offended by the program. Not because it provides a glimpse into the world of Jewish zealots—whose actions are certainly open to criticism—but because the comparisons and equivalencies drawn are so inaccurate and inappropriate. These individuals and groups, while active and quite vocal, are a small minority in Israeli society. They certainly do not represent the mainstream. Palestinian
militants terrorists, by contrast, do represent the mainstream.
I realize this makes many left-leaning folks uncomfortable because they want to think “deep down inside, we are all the same” or “we all want the same things out of life.” Well, truthfully, we are not the same and we do not want the same things. We are not guided by the same norms of behavior or the same conceptions of “the good.” The sooner people come to this realization, the better.
[For a refutation of the notion that material deprivation causes terrorism click here.]