The Sacrifice of Isaac:The Palestinoan Version / Ben Dror Yemini

For the author of this article, the current round of Israeli-Palestinian violence is dictated by hatred of a brand not easily comprehended in the more developed world. If the Palestinians only had their way, then a new Eichman would be most welcome, ending the lives of six million Jews-this time concentrated in the same country.

"Schadenfreude" is a German word that means "rejoicing over another’s ill fortune." Indubitably, the majority of the Palestinians are experiencing this sentiment in light of the waves of violence being unleashed in Israel and the territories. They derive a deep satisfaction from these events, even when they end up suffering because of them. The main issue here is that the recent violence puts the Israelis on their defensive guard-the enemy is accosted. By now we can affirm that Sharon’s ill-timed visit to the Temple Mount was only used as a pretext. Without falling back on a massive insurrection, there would have been many other ways of responding to that "provocation." Why was a non-violent demonstration so inconceivable? And what about repudiating the visit through public declarations? Why not make use of the raucous protests usually lodged against Israel in the U.N. General Assembly?

But the current "Intifada" has precious little to do with the visit of Likud’s leader to the Temple Mount. And even if Sharon had not presented them with such a splendid pretext, the Palestinians would doubtless have found yet another reason to voice their indignation.

In this war as in so many others, the aggressors are portrayed as victims. Nor should we be too flabberghasted by the fact that the Arabs avow that stone-throwing women and children, skillfully blended with policemen armed with automatic rifles, can be classified as peaceful citizens fighting for their just desserts. What is so astounding is that the entire world swallows it wholesale. One could venture to ask what the venerable diplomats of the U.N. Security Council, those who condemned Israel for use of excessive force would do should they themselves be confronted by an murderous, stone-hurling mob. Despite their being armed, soldiers often have little choice when confronted with a blood-thirsty crowd. If Israeli soldiers had really responded with excessive force, the Palestinian victims would number well into the thousands. In fact, the street protests could only continue BECAUSE Israel reacted without the use of excessive force.

The Palestinians have deliberately avoided transforming the sporadic clashes into a genuine military confrontation.Readily understanding its built-in television value, children and adolescents are always in the fighting front lines. All of us who witnessed the horrible images of the child Mohammed Al-Durah, killed in Israeli-Palestinian crossfire, were deeply moved, but few bothered to ask a fundamental question: just what was his father doing by taking his son to such a location, in the first place?


How bizarre that, for so many Middle East commentators their powers of rational thought often fail them. Many of these journalists also have children of their own. And surely they would do all in their power to guarantee that their children, armed with stones, not incite a heavily armed military force. Nonetheless, the aggressors are drawn as victims, and the defenders are seen as merciless oppressors. Palestinian provocation is non-existent. As opposed, of course, to Israeli reprisals.

On the other hand, from the militant Islamic perspective, it is quite an honor to have a martyr, a "shahid", in the family. One of the most hotly debated accounts in the Bible is that of the attempted sacrifice of Isaac, in Chapter 22 of Genesis. God says to Abraham: "Take your son, your only son, whom you love, and go up to the place of Moriah, and give him up for a burnt offering (literally, a Holocaust), on the mount that I will show you." But in the Biblical story there is nonetheless a happy ending. For in that precise moment when Abraham, knife in hand, is about to execute God’s will, the Voice of the Almighty commands him to cease and desist. In the Palestinian version, there is, in contrast, no going back. It is an intentionally orchestrated meeting with death. It is a sports-style suicide, one in which the aim is not competition between athletes on the grounds of physical excellence, but rather, an irrational and seething hatred. There is a complete sado-masochistic ritual that glorifies this senseless right. And everyone joins in the chorus of pitying the poor Palestinian, the eternal victims of the perpetrators of Zionist aggression.

And although Arafat may indeed be the main ringleader of this great spectacle, we can safely say that his representatives are far from being seasoned diplomats. They will not use the political gains of violence on the ground in order to advance their positions at some future point, when the dialogue is renewed. Instead, the motivating forces behind the current outbursts of violence have a Khomeini and Taliban-style Islamic fundamentalist state on the agenda. And they wish to erect it upon the tomb of six million Jewish infidels, this time conveniently located in a single state, not scattered throughout Europe as they were in WW2. A future Arab Eichman shall have, the Ayatollahs reason, a far easier time of it than the original. Happily, the Jewish world is strong enough to withstand the repetition of such a scenario. And although the idea is anathema to the Palestinians, they must learn to co-exist with their Jewish neighbors.

Sooner or later, reason must prevail, and, in the larger scheme of things, I do believe that the winners will be those moderates who adhere to a philosophy of peace and co-existence, despite everything. But what is most regrettable is this: the most moderate government, the one most willing to accommodate Palestinian aspirations and take the greatest risks in the history of the Jewish state, for the sake of peace, has received the worst of all possible responses from the Palestinians themselves.

I continue to believe in the cause of the doves in the Israeli political spectrum; but I do have trouble understanding how doves can maintain a fruitful dialogue with vultures.

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