When atroc­ity in­vites atroc­ity

The Washington Times Weekly - - Commentary - BY WES­LEY PRU­DEN

Atroc­ity in­vites atroc­ity, and just when we think we’ve reached the bot­tom of the homo sapi­ens or­der, we dis­cover there’s a bot­tom be­neath the bot­tom. The kid­nap­ping and mur­der of chil­dren is the vilest of all crimes, and why the per­pe­tra­tors of such in­de­cency are held as the low­est of the low in nearly ev­ery prison in the world. There is honor, of a kind, even among the killing breed.

The lat­est in­de­cen­cies at the bot­tom of the hu­man or­der have taken the lives of four young men — three Is­raelis and a Pales­tinian. The re­ac­tion to these tragedies is elo­quent tes­ti­mony to why the re­gion is adrift in such a sea of de­prav­ity and hope­less­ness. The only true equiv­a­lency is the equiv­a­lency of the in­tent of killers.

Three young Is­raeli youths, aged 16, 16 and 19, were kid­napped last month and mur­dered, ex­e­cu­tion style, on their way home from re­li­gious-stud­ies classes. Their bod­ies were found in a field sev­eral days later, at the end of a search driven by a hope for the best and the ex­pec­ta­tion of the worst.

The Is­raeli govern­ment promised to find the killers and pun­ish them by the law, and given the ef­fi­ciency of the Is­raeli se­cu­rity forces few could doubt that jus­tice would pre­vail. But this be­ing the land of an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth, bar­bar­ians could not wait. They first at­tempted the kid­nap­ping of a 9-year-old, then took a Pales­tinian boy of 16. His body, burned be­yond recog­ni­tion, was also found in a field, aban­doned in the Jerusalem For­est.

Is­raeli in­ves­ti­ga­tors quickly de­tained six sus­pects, pre­sum­ably Is­raeli cit­i­zens, just as the Pales­tinian streets erupted in the usual riot. Po­lice were said by usu­ally re­li­able sources to be­lieve that the mur­der was done by Jewish ex­trem­ists, in­clud­ing mi­nor chil­dren, in re­tal­i­a­tion for the slay­ings on the West Bank. One of the sus­pects is said to have con­fessed, and the po­lice were about to re­veal de­tails of the ar­rests and in­ter­ro­ga­tions when a mag­is­trate’s court gagged all par­ties at the re­quest of Shin Bet, the Is­raeli se­cu­rity po­lice leading the in­ves­ti­ga­tion. The sus­pects could be held un­der Is­raeli law with­out lawyers for up to 10 days, or 21 days if a court is per­suaded that they are sus­pected of com­mit­ting a ter­ror­ism­re­lated crime.

The six sus­pects are, in the an­ti­sep­tic eu­phemism of­ten used to hint at what’s go­ing on in po­lice in­ter­ro­ga­tion rooms, “as­sist­ing po­lice in their in­ves­ti­ga­tion.”

There was no Is­raeli at­tempt to hide what hap­pened to Mo­hammed Abu Khdeir in the Jerusalem For­est. The au­topsy sug­gest­ing a hideous death was con­ducted by Is­raeli doc­tors and a Pales­tinian coroner. Politi­cians in Jerusalem vied to de­nounce the killing. Prime Min­is­ter Binyamin Ne­tanyahu called it “loath­some” and “rep­re­hen­si­ble,” and per­son­ally di­rected the in­ves­ti­ga­tion. There seemed to be lit­tle need of pres­sure on the cops, but the govern­ment ap­plied it, any­way. “Is­rael is a na­tion of laws,” the prime min­is­ter said, “and ev­ery­one must act ac­cord­ing to the law.”

The rabbi who rep­re­sents the re­gion where the boy was killed said the killers, as well as the mur­der­ers of the three young Jewish men, must all be brought to the same jus­tice and if found guilty, de­serve the death penalty. Is­rael has no death penalty in the law, but Rabbi Elyahim Le­vanon is not im­pressed. “Jewish law has no mercy when it comes to bru­tal mur­der,” he said. “The killers who kid­napped and mur­dered the three boys and the Arab boy must be given manda­tory death sen­tences.”

And what’s go­ing on with the Pales­tinian in­ves­ti­ga­tion in the deaths of the Jewish boys? Not very much. There were no an­gry de­nun­ci­a­tions of that bar­bar­ity, no ap­peals to let the law do its work. There were no prom­ises to find out what hap­pened, no vows to send the guilty to the gal­lows or to a be­head­ing knife. Any­one look­ing for moral equiv­a­lency would not find it here.

Is­lamic villainy against Jews, ev­i­dent in abun­dance through­out the re­gion, is rarely held to be villainy at all. And not just in the Mid­dle East. The Met­ro­pol­i­tan Opera this year will present an opera about Pales­tinian ter­ror­ists who threw a crip­pled Jew in a wheel­chair, Leon Klinghof­fer, 69, off the hi­jacked cruise ship Achille Lauro in 1985. The killers, not the Jew in a wheel­chair, will get the sym­pa­thetic hear­ing in the “ro­man­tic” opera that Peter Gelb, the gen­eral man­ager of the Met, says seeks “to un­der­stand the hi­jack­ers and their mo­ti­va­tions, and to look for hu­man­ity in the ter­ror­ists as well as the vic­tim.”

Both killer and vic­tim are pre­sented with moral equiv­a­lence. Atroc­ity in­vites atroc­ity. Wes­ley Pru­den is edi­tor emer­i­tus of The Wash­ing­ton Times.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.