Friday, November 21, 2014

21-Nov-14: Why Har Nof is different but also the same

Har Nof's Kehillat Bnei Torah synagogue is housed
in this building on Agassi Street Jerusalem [Image Source
It's become an easy cop-out for the mainstream media to blame Palestinian Arab terrorist attacks on a handful of background grievances that any "reasonable" person would see as understandable even if a tad unfortunate. 

But the savagery in the Har Nof prayer chapel attack is different. It exposes the empty falseness of the motivations used in media reports in the past to casually fig-leaf the terrorists and to convey "understanding" of their lethal ways. 

One by one, the usual factors fall away:
  • The massacre in the Har Nof Bnei Torah synagogue had nothing to do with bogus grievances about Haram al-Sharif because Jews of the kind targeted in Har Nof don't subscribe to the view that Jews ought to be visiting the holy Temple Mount, a legitimate controversy within Jewish law.
  • Nothing to do with occupation: Har Nof is well behind any frontiers or the 1949 ceasefire lines (those lines now misleadingly called the 1967 borders)
  • Nothing to do with settlements: No Arab ever made his home where Har Nof stands. We watched it being built in the eighties, carved out of barren hillside and rocks.
  • Nothing to do with oppressing Arabs: at least one of the two murdering Abu Jamal cousins is reported to have worked in a neighbourhood grocery just down the street from the synagogue, supporting himself and probably others from there.
  • Certainly no dimension here of getting back at the Israeli military: the victims were men engaged full-time in learning and Torah, and of the demographic whose members Israel routinely exempts from national service or reserves duty. In Jerusalem, the killers had no shortage of soldiers, police and other security personnel to target. They made their decision: men in prayer shawls, eyes closed and in fervent prayer.
  • Yes, it might be because of the somewhat unexplained death of an Egged bus driver two days earlier. If that's the motivation for a massacre with knives and axes on unarmed men at prayer, it definitely helps us understand the attackers' mindset. Of course, it's now clear that the family of that Egged bus driver, an Arab from East Jerusalem, were invited to have their own pathologist, an Arab, present at the autopsy and those present say he agreed with the conclusion that the Egged bus driver hanged himself for reasons we might never learn. (And only afterwards revised his view for whatever reason, and said the Israelis killed the man.) But let's buy that for this discussion. Let's say that an unsolved death of a driver whose body was found inside a bus belonging to the co-operative that had employed him, and employs hundreds more Arabs, is the reason behind the barbarism of the Har Nof terror. Clear moral equivalence.
  • The site of the killings, a Haredi synagogue, is not emblematic of what Israel stands for in the Arab mind. It is emblematic of what Jews represent, especially in the torrent of Jew-hating sermons, news reports, cartoons, video-clips that are central to the Palestinian Arab discourse on their grievances. An example from today: an Iranian news site, controlled by the Iranian government, embodies the pathology well. (The Elder of Ziyon blog pointed this out some hours ago.) If you go there now, Friday morning, to this page (and featured on their home page), you can see a headline that captures the Jew-hating depravity in all its counter-factual glory: "Nazis with beards..." The beards are of course the beards of the men slaughtered on Tuesday morning. But the examples that the article gives of these wicked people are all of non-Israeli Jews, mostly Americans ["It’s not important whether these Israelis and several others are still alive or hold key positions in the American and European governments. What is important is...] In the lexicon of the jihadists, Jews are Israelis and Israelis are Jews. It's not so hard to understand why the Western media hesitate before shining a light on that form of logic which we know is so pervasive in the Middle East.
From this morning's news [Source: FARS News Agency, Iran]
A handful of liberal thinkers and writers have spoken out about what the Har Nof killings really do represent. But there is certainly not enough exposure or fury, given the way it throws a light on the nature of the true nature of the passions in this part of the world. (And it has to be said that by far the largest part of the analysis and coverage is from within Israel and the Jewish world.)

Then again, given how the facts undermine some of the shibboleths of the media, that's not so surprising.

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