Palestinian terror has struck Israel once more. An East Jerusalem gunman entered Yeshivat Harav Kook in West Jerusalem and sprayed gunfire through the Yeshiva’s library hitting a score of students and killing eight before the terrorist was himself killed. Events like this leave one speechless. What can one say? It is simply an act of bestiality.
It seems likely that the rampage will harden attitudes among the Israeli populace and embolden nationalist forced led by Bibi Netanyahu, angling to become the next prime minister. It will also allow the extremist settler movement to wrap itself in the warm embrace of Israeli society which will be mourning the victims. The Yeshiva is considered the spiritual father of the settler movement and holds a sacred spot in settler hearts.
What will also no doubt be lost on Israelis is that this act, heinous as it was, did not arise in a vacuum. Over 100 Gazans were killed last week by the IDF, the majority civilians. The thirst for vengeance among Palestinians must be deep.
Haaretz is reporting that the gunman was from East Jerusalem. If so, this would mark a new tactic for Palestinian militants who’ve usually used suicide bombs as their weapon. Very few previous attacks, to my knowledge, have been carried out by East Jerusalem residents. Recruiting such a person would allow them to circumvent the Separation Wall, which many Israelis and their supporters believe has reduced the number of terror attacks. I wonder how the gunman gained access to the weapons–were they brought from the Territories to him or did they come from within Israel?
I have heard no claim of responsibility from any Palestinians groups, though the N.Y. Times claims that Hamas announced its satisfaction at the attack. Whoever initiated it clearly is eager to derail Israeli-Palestinian peace talks and possibly convey the message that ignoring Hamas is done at Israel’s peril. If the act can be linked to Hamas or any other Gaza-based group, that will probably seal the deal on a major offensive there. The ensuing bloodshed and refugee crisis will undoubtedly destroy any chance to realize George and Condi’s vision of a peace deal before he leaves office.
Barack Obama released a statement of condolence rightly condemning the attack:
“I strongly condemn this cowardly and outrageous attack. The United States must strongly support Israel’s right and capability to defend itself. Today, our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families, and with the Israeli people who defeat these terrorists every single day that they go about their daily lives.”
But apparently he feels less broken up about the 100 Gazans killed over the past week as he made no statement at all about them. A case of moral amnesia perhaps?
Haaretz also reports the story indicating that the gunman had worked as the yeshiva’s driver.
John Rohan says
Awhile ago, I criticized you on this site for being soft on Palestinian terror, and biased against Israel. You assured me you were not, and insisted that if I had read through your site, I would find plenty of condemnation of terror on both sides.
Well, look at your front page right now. You have ten stories, most of them, understandably, are about recent events in Gaza. But out of this ten, nine are either highly critical of Israel, or of people who tend to defend Israel (The only exception is the post about fees in the lawsuit against you). It is not until this post right here that I see any condemnation of Palestinian terror at all, and even then you can’t condemn them without implying that Israel is worse.
One side is openly acknowleging its attacks, using a military that is subject to a vigorous democratic process. And they are doing it in response to continuous rocket attacks from Hamas. The other side sends a gunman on a suicide mission to kill students at a University; there was not even the attempt to hit a military target here. Moreover, there is no clear acknowlegement of who is responsible so they can be answerable for it. The leaders essentially remain invisible in the Gazan population and use them as a shield against retaliation (which is itself a war crime, btw).
Oh, and there’s one more difference – just like after 9/11, Palestinians are out cheering and celebrating this attack:
Correct me if I’m wrong, but I have never heard of Israelis out in the streets celebrating air strikes against Hamas – in fact, just the opposite; after every one of these raids, you see some Israelis out protesting against their government instead. How long do you think an anti-terror protest in Gaza against Hamas would last, assuming Palestinians wanted to?
Granted, Israel killed more Palestinians this week than the other way around. Is that the standard for justice? Israel can do this because it has a real military force; Hamas does not. Now imagine what Israel would look like if that situation were the other way around. Remember, the motto of your website is “make the world a better place”.
I’m not excusing all of Israel’s actions here, but you and I know that if Hamas stopped their attacks, Israel would stop their raids. If ordinary Gazans are tired of being caught in the crossfire during raids against Hamas, they should rise up and throw these guys out. The ball is truly in the court of the people of Gaza.
With this guy’s history of working at the place, combined with his recent jailing along with the massacres in Gaza, this particular act seems more like someone “going postal” than a planned suicide attack.
Bestial? What does that mean?
According to the news reports on Israel radio, the yeshiva said the terrorist did NOT ever work at the yeshiva.
Regarding Judy’s claim that, as I understand it, the terrorist was not actually a terrorist, but a “disgruntled former employee” (i.e. an American style mass murderer), I think the environment he came from and its reaction would certainly be a calculation in his mind. Would his friends and relatives be proud of what he did? Would his neighbors distribute candy to one another? Would the official organs of the Palestinian Authority and HAMAS laud him for his act? Or would he be condemned by Palestinian society for what he did? How do Americans react to similar acts of “disgruntled employees”.?
Regarding the “separation wall”, it is important to note that the major decrease in suicide bombings occurred long before it was built. The primary reason it was built was NOT for security reasons (although I did hear that it has greatly reduced thefts and break-ins in the communities near it) but for political reasons, hoping that, assuming it would be close to the Green Line, it would serve as a political border, but justifying the massive expenditures to the public by claiming that it was important for “security”,.
I’m not suggesting “disgruntled employee,” just suggesting a more personal connection…
I’m just suggesting a more personal connection… I don’t write that to justify it. Besides, clearly, he had to be outfitted with a weapon and learn how to use it.
Richard Silverstein says
As you said in yr later comment there had to be quite a bit of preparation & training to carry out this attack. I think it was premeditated & possibly connected to Hamas-Islamic Jihad since the group claiming responsibility, despite alleging a Hezbollah connection, may in fact have some affiliation w. Hamas-IJ. Though that’s to be determined.
Bar Kochba: I can’t believe we basically agree on the Separation Wall’s origins. Whadaya know! Though saying that it follows close to the Green Line isn’t something I’d agree with.
Judy: “Bestial” means the murders were a beastly, inhuman act. When the IDF kills a 20 month old infant as happened yesterday the act is no less bestial, no less inhuman.
Richard Silverstein says
What is it about the word “bestial” that you find insufficiently strong in condemning the attack?
Your count of my recent posts & designating them as “critical of Israel” is simply wrong. There’s a post about Steven Plaut’s court case–not a post critical of Israel but of an individual. There’s a post about Rachel Neuwirth’s fine in another court case. Again, a post critical of a specific person, not Israel. There’s a post about a Vanity Fair article critical of Condi Rice, not Israel. Is it yr position btw that I can’t be critical of Israeli policy? Is it yr position that a critic can’t by definition be someone with a constructive agenda, one who wants to strengthen Israel by pointing out the inadequacies of its policies? Because if that IS yr position then perhaps you’re not as in favor of democracy and free speech as you think you are. Here in this country I can make similar criticisms w/o being viewed as an enemy of my country (at least in most circles). Why should that be any diff. regarding Israel? And why can’t I criticize people who defend Israel if their defense is based on a highly right-wing view of Israeli politics?
A military “subject to a vigorous democratic process?” Where did you get this? Have you seen how many Palestinian & Israeli Arab civilians have been killed by the IDF & not investigated or prosecuted for their actions? Yr comment betrays ignorance about how both the IDF & Israeli society operates.
Until we know the facts I suggest you restrain yr judgment on the origin of the crime. And a yeshiva is not a “university.” Further, the particular yeshiva chosen had a highly symbolic significance both for the settler movement & Palestinians. I’m not justifying the attack in any way. But to say that there was no reason for it to be chosen shows you don’t understand a lot about the conflict.
Israeli settlers celebrate the “martyrdom” of Baruch Goldstein every year on Purim. Plus, there are MANY Israeli right wing politicians who advocate essentially uprooting Gaza & sending its population fleeing to Egypt or wherever. I don’t care whether these people are doing a dance of joy as they say these things. The public statements are little different than whatever Palestinians are doing. I’d also suggest if your wife or daughter or father or best friend had been killed by the IDF you might feel a certain satisfaction when Israelis were killed in revenge. And if you deny this then you’re prob. either fooling yrself or a saint.
There are many Palestinians who publicy oppose Palestinian acts of terror. The fact that you don’t know this or choose to ignore it shows again that you are either uninformed or misinformed about the nature of Palestinian society.
Well yes, it’s certainly one standard. When 3 Israelis are killed (2 soldiers) & 105 Gazans are killed (54 civilians) then yes that certainly is a deep injustice. The fact that you can’t acknowledge this means you are imprisoned in an imbalanced mindset regarding Israel’s Occupation.
Again, not the point. The point isn’t merely to stop violence. The point is to find an equitable solution to the conflict, which in turn will stop the violence. Israel will never negotiate such a solution absent strong pressure fr. the Palestinians. While I don’t justify the types of pressure they have chosen, Israel has made abundantly clear it is NOT prepared for an equitable solution at least not one anywhere near equitable in the eyes of Palestinians.
Again, wrong idea. Gazans are nowhere near tired of being caught in the crossfire. You couldn’t throw enough punishment at them to make them back down. That’s precisely what happens in such insurgencies. The more powerful party throws more & more firepower at the enemy thinking it will break them when, in fact, it only makes resistance stronger & the insurgents a more powerful force within their society. That’s what Israel has done for Hamas, made it far stronger than it otherwise would be. There is no military solution to this. Israel will have to back down & negotiate whether it likes it or not.
John Rohan says
I don’t know what html your site will understand, and your comments don’t have a “preview” button, but here goes:
I said: “But out of this ten, nine are either highly critical of Israel, or of people who tend to defend Israel”
And exactly how does Hamas’ internal judicial process work? Israel isn’t perfect (like any nation) but at least they are answerable to someone. Who conducted this attack yesterday? Who knows? Hamas alternately claimed responsibility and then denied it. It’s possible we will never know.
There was a reason it was chosen: it was a soft target and easy to kill innocent people. The terrorist/s in this case didn’t even attempt to hit an Israeli military target, and that is one fundamental difference between what Israel and Hamas is doing.
If they were killed under these circumstances, I would be far more angry at Hamas and other groups that are intentionally trying to provoke Israel and derail the peace process.
?? Did I ignore it? The point is, I see Israelis in the streets openly protesting their country’s policies. I don’t see any Palestinians doing the same. This implies either 1) They are too frightened of Hamas, or 2) They don’t care. Either statement doesn’t reflect well on Hamas and the people of Gaza.
??? That is exactly the point! Because the reality is, no one will sit down at a table to discuss an equitable solution unless the violence stops first. In the past, every time Israel & the PLO got closer to a solution, some terrorists (including a few times, Israeli extremists) would conduct a spectacular attack and the negotiations would stop.
It is good to bring up the name of Baruch Goldstein to keep the discussion in” balance”. Israel and the Ersatz Israeli Jews can’t hardy claim to be the victims despite latest monstrous act. If killing 29 Muslims and wounding 150 in a Mosque is still celebrated in Israel, what how can these people who do that condemn the “celebration” in Gaza.
Israel is officially always on the highest level promising revenge. But haven’t the Palestinians also the “same” right for revenge? Why should revenge be only the Israeli Jews right? Certainly Palestinians have numerously much more reasons for revenge as Israeli Jews on a national level do. Israel always informs after destroying mosques, schools and housing buildings that these were used by the “terrorists”. But has Israel ever provided any real proof of that in those incidents. No it hasn’t. Israel only claims “things” to be so.
Would anybody believe that the Chinese in Tibet, on a “national level”, are the victims? We all would understand if the original people of Tibet would resist using the methods of terrorism which are the only military option of the occupied people. We would have even some “understanding” if the Tibetans would attack a school were the new “landlords” are trained.
mary hughes thompson says
The BBC today showed footage of Israeli bulldozers (or more likely American bulldozers) demolishing the house of the killer’s family. I had thought Israel had sworn to stop this form of collective punishment.
“Israeli settlers celebrate the “martyrdom” of Baruch Goldstein every year on Purim. ”
False. This is a smear against Israeli settlers since most of them condemn Goldstein’s act, as do the overwhelming majority of Israelis. Very few extremists participate in honoring Goldstein, some of them may be settlers and some of them not. Most of them probably American born as were Kahane and Goldstein himself. Half of them are probably Shaback agents anyway. These people are very marginal and insignificant in Israel, (but very significant in RS’s mind), and the Israeli establishment works hard, in schools for example, to further ostracize them. Your attempt at moral equivalence failed.
I find that the amount of coverage Richard has given to the IDF fire in proportion to the Palestinian acts of aggression are more or less in line with the disparity between the two. In addition, it really should be a no-brainer that when someone condemns Israel of committing atrocities that kill innocent people that the parallel is more or less admitted. Of course there are many different attributes that constitutes major differences, ie that the Palestinians are occupied and under the Geneva Accords, they have a right to exercise their resistance to the occupation, but the acts of both sides are quite senseless and will only lead to what Israel refused to do in the beginning: a negotiation with Hamas.
Also, this attempt to have “balance” is rather misleading considering that the only “balance” that seems to merit not being anti-Semitic is outright support for Israel’s aggression and whenever Israel’s policy is criticised it must be accompanied with the same condemnation of Palestinian attacks. This misses the point: that Israel’s aggression is in direct relation with Palestinian attacks. So while we may deplore Palestinian strategy of terrorism, we need not always make it so obvious that we do because we also detest Israel’s collective punishment.
Rowan Berkeley says
I would speculate that although he did not work “at” the yeshiva, he had indeed worked “for it”, as a driver, and that this was how he had gained his knowledge of its geography and style.
The killer never worked at the yeshiva and never worked for the yeshiva. He used his family van or minibus to transport children in the Arab neighborhoods of Jerusalem to and from school. He staked out the yeshiva for about a month learning the schedule and planning the best time to attack in order to kill the most children. Most of those killed were 15-16 years old. Defensless. Pre-planned (not someone who went postal). Intentional. Clearly a non-military target.
On the other hand, the reason innocent Palestinians are killed is because the Hamas and Islamic Jihad use them as fighters and as human shield. They also wage wage war from civilian areas. Their weapons labs are set up in civilian areas. They launch rockets from near and within civilian areas. They call on civilians to protect houses of terrorists they think may be targeted by the IDF. These things have been well documented. The conflict IS not balanced. One side is clearly much more evil then the other (the Hamas and Islamic Jihad side).
Johan, why should we believe the photo is authentic? The post 911 ones of celebrating Palestinians were proved to the taken from a different context. No?
Do you think Jonathan Cook is just an antisemite? How realistic do you think is the scenario he suggests in the end?
“In line with these policies, Israel broke the latest period of “relative calm” in Gaza by initiating the executions of five Hamas members last Wednesday. Predictably, Hamas responded by firing into Israel a barrage of rockets that killed the student in Sderot, in turn justifying the bloodbath in Gaza.”
Another case of “relative quiet”. Scary, I agree.
“Israeli Housing Minister Ze’ev Boim has given instructions to renew building of a major development in the West Bank settlement of Givat Ze’ev, northwest of Jerusalem. (Here’s an earlier Hebrew report on the affair.) The development is planned for ultra-Orthodox Jews, and the ultra-Orthodox Shas party has been pressing to go ahead. So much for the “total freeze” on settlement construction that Vice Premier Haim Ramon described at a press briefing several weeks ago. What’s even scarier is this: The radio quoted sources in Boim’s office as saying that that it was possible to resume construction of the stalled settlement project because of the “relative quiet” in the West Bank. As my wife asked after hearing the report, “What is a Palestinian to conclude from such a comment?” For that matter, apropos my previous post, what is an Israeli parent supposed to think before his child takes a bus?”
Richard Silverstein says
So because Hamas does not have a judicial process that satisfies you that means that Israel’s record of impunity with regard to human rights violations against Palestinian civilians by IDF & Border Police is acceptable?? And do pls. tell me who the IDF is answerable to? The attorney general? The military echelons–military justice? Nah. The number of prosecutions compared to the number of serious documented incidents of killings, maimings & other outageous behavior is minuscule.
Your logic is fatally flawed because Palestinian militants deliberately trying to kill Israeli civilians have killed precisely one in the past few weeks (& one civilian lost a limb). The IDF, which claims is isn’t targeting Palestinians killed 130 over the past 10 days over half of whom were civilians. I’m less interested in whether one side targets civilians or not & much more interested in how many civilians are actually killed. The numbers speak for themselves.
Unlike you I read and research articles & surveys of Palestinian opinion to discover what Palestinians actually believe. I don’t base my judgments in this regard on anecdotes, propaganda or one-off events that one reads about from time to time. The majority of Palestinians are opposed to suicide attacks & killing Israeli civilians. This is a flat out fact. I’d venture to say that perhaps the majority of Israelis MIGHT say they were opposed to the killing of Palestinian civilians; but if you asked whether it was permissible to kill Palestinian civilians in pursuit of militants the result might distress you (that is, if you even would be distressed by Israelis accepting this as the price you pay for combatting terror). So there is little difference overall in Israeli & Palestinians attitudes towards killing civilians. Both sides would prefer not to do it. But there are circumstances under which many might justify it.
More importantly, the Palestinians live under a brutal Occupation. Why would any Palestinian be eager to attack publicly the one force which seems to resist Occupation effectively? If Occupation were to end I have no doubt that resistance to Hamas would grow exponentially & that it would be voted from office. Israelis (though not enough) do protest government policy. But they have a 60 yr. history of such dissent and they have not had to live under the same oppressive conditions (regardless of the legitimate threats they do face) as Palestinians.
You’ve got it ass backwards. History is full of examples of warring parties who negotiated the end of various conflicts BEFORE there was a ceasefire. The PLO negotiated with Israel before it declared its intent to stop acts of violence against Israel.
John–I’m not interested in continuing to debate this issue with you since most of the pts you’ve brought up & my responses have been written here countless times before & I start to feel like I should just have a macro designed to respond to various criticisms raised by commenters like you. So pls, you’re welcome to comment in other threads but let’s call this particular debate in this thread done bet. the 2 of us.
Amir: You maintain that my claim that settlers celebrate Baruch Goldstein is “false” & yet you write “some of them [the celebrants] may be settlers.” I’m sure you know that settlers celebrate Goldstein at his grave every Purim. I even have a post about this quoting the celebrants with a photo of his grave. So it is you, in fact, who err. Besides, there are many settlers who would not publicly dance at Goldstein’s grave for fear of the bad public impression it would create, but who nonetheless honor Goldstein’s memory. Similary, there are many Israeli rightists who defend Yigal Amir, the assassin of Yitzhak Rabin. You’re trying to sweep this behavior under the rug when you can’t.
This is pathetic. You see the pictures of little babies being buried in Gaza & yet you persist in the lame excuse that this is Hamas’ fault. That may satisfy you but it doesn’t satisfy 98% of the rest of my readers nor me.
You remind me of the person who hears something they don’t like & puts their hands over their ears & endlessly repeats just the opposite in a very loud voice to drown out what they don’t want to hear. The rest of the world sees evil on both sides of this conflict. Most Israelis in fact do as well. You’re in a distinct minority & yet you persist in trying to sell us this swampy moral real estate.
HTML Test below…
“I don’t know what HTML your site will understand…”
I myself have pondered this very question, so let’s try it out –
These words should be bolded.
These words should be italicized.
Red and not deprecated: Hello World
Red but deprecated: Hello World
Underlined and not deprecated: Hello World
Underlined but deprecated: Hello World
Only two out of six…sign…
TThat should be “sigh”, not sign…
Mel the indifferent says
The mainstream media in the west condemns this atrocity, and this is their official stand. However, here is another positon:
— “A NAZI HIGH COMMAND RUNNING A SCHOOL for future officers is charged with exterminating all Jews using Mein Kampf as their guide. Suddenly a Judaic bursts into the school and opens fire killing eight of the students.” —
— “IF THIS HAD HAPPENED DURING WW II, a street in Germany would now be named in honor of the killer and he would be listed among the righteous at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum. Your son or daughter might even learn of his “heroism” during a mandatory “Holocaust Studies” class.” — Michael A. Hoffman
Indeed, we have a parallel of WW II Nazis in yeshiva-taught Talmudic Jews who learn that Gentiles (Arabs included) are sub-human. On this line, on February 29 2008, Israel’s Deputy ‘Defense’ Minister, Matan Vilnai, called for the extermination (”Shoah”) of the Palestinians of Gaza”
not sure if you agree with this man’s position, but it does make some interesting food for thought.
Mel the indifferent says
I also found this interesting:
“The BBC would have us believe that Mercaz HaRav yeshiva is a normal school where ‘religious students’ 3 pursue esoteric religious studies. In fact Mercaz HaRav is the main educational and training centre of the fanatical Israeli settler movement, Gush Emunim, what the British newspaper,The Independent, somewhat disingenuously calls the “controversial settler movement”. Many Mercaz HaRav graduates fill the ranks of Gush Emunim,4 which organises attacks on Palestinians from Jewish-only military settlements across the West Bank as part of its declared aim of dispossessing Palestinians of 100% of Palestine.5
The parent organisation, Gush Emunim, is heavily armed and carries out the most revolting crimes against innocent Palestinians across the West Bank.6 This writer has visited the Palestinian village of Yanun after settlers had washed their dogs in the Palestinians’ drinking water. A Medieval ideology goes hand in hand with Medieval tactics – Hebron settlers poison village wells with putrescent chickens. 7 They beat and shoot Palestinians, poison their sheep,8 generally act like the violent thugs they are. One well-known graduate of Mercaz HaRav, Rabbi Moshe Levinger, who founded the colonies of ultras in Hebron was such a vicious psychopath towards Palestinians that he was even found guilty of killing a Palestinian by an Israeli court, for which he served three months in detention.9 Rabbi Levinger was also found guilty of unprovoked assaults on women and children, unusually, since the settlers enjoy complete immunity10; many a Palestinian has been found guilty by the Israeli authorities of beating himself up in the vicinity of Jewish settlers.”
““WHEN WE HAVE settled the land, all the Arabs will be able to do about it will be to scurry around like drugged cockroaches in a bottle.”—Rafael Eitan, April 14, 1983”
Amazing what you can find when you dig beneath the surface.
Answer this honestly Richard, if the school was a Nazi school and the assailant was a Jew during WW2, would you still condemn the incident?
Richard Silverstein says
Such historical parallels are very dangerous to make. But since you’ve done so let’s examine yours. Is the extremist settler movement really akin to the Nazis? Not really. Yes, they preach hatred of Arabs and are racist. Yes, they support immoral ideas like transferring Arabs from Israel. Yes, they justify violence against Arabs and even murder at times.
But do they support genocide against Arabs? That’s where the analogy fails. Despite the deep immorality & objectionable nature of their views they neither support genocide nor would they be capable of implementing such a policy.