Monday, March 14, 2011

Jews and Palestinians

In the wake of the horrific murders at Itamar, many people are pointing to it as illustrative of the sick nature of Palestinian terrorists. Others claim that Jews can be just as bad, as demonstrated in the genocial mitzvos of the Torah and Baruch Goldstein. To my surprise, even a commentator on this website, Todd, argued that we are no better than Muslims, probably worse, and that it's only the lack of opportunity that keeps our fanatics at bay (see his comments here and here).

Now, clearly there are moral questions raised by some mitzvos in the Torah. I can think of ways of resolving them, but I'm not sure that it's relevant here. I really can't see that it's relevant to compare accepted norms of today with an unclear situation of three thousand years ago. The point is to compare Jews of today with Palestinians of today.

There's no doubt that Jews can sometimes do terrible things. There are plenty of extremely violent lunatics in my own neighborhood, who act in the name of Torah, and there are even some Jewish terrorists. Conversely, there are many, many fine Palestinians who are appalled at the Itamar murders. And this is even though the Palestinians have the lower hand in the overall conflict.

Nevertheless, I think that it's abundantly clear that, as a general truth, the Palestinian culture is one of violence and death, and Israeli culture is one of peace and life. As a Hamas MP infamously said, "We desire death like you desire life!” In Judaism, warfare is only ever a regrettable but necessary means to an end, never something in which we revel.

Some people will point to counter-examples. But a few counter-examples do not disprove a trend. Terrorism by Jews is an aberration that is widely condemned, whereas terrorism by Palestinians is a norm that is widely acclaimed. Baruch Goldstein was roundly condemned in Israeli circles, and even those who consider him a hero, do so because they believe he was trying to avert an immediate greater catastrophe, or that his mind snapped as a result of the trauma that he saw. Contrast that to various Palestinian terrorists, who are widely acclaimed as heroes and have streets named in their honor. In Gaza, they celebrated the Itamar massacre, while an editorial in a Palestinian newspaper claimed that the "real murderers in Itamar are the zealous settlers and anyone who burned a tree, vandalized the cemetery in Awarta, forced out the residents of Khirbet Yanun, took control of a plot of land or robbed an olive harvest."

I will never forget the video of hundreds of Palestinians cheering on the lynching of two soldiers who accidentally entered Ramallah. Such a scene would be inconceivable with Jews. There were SS guards who were lynched by concentration camp survivors, but aside from the vastly different nature of that situation, such lynches were rare events with little support - and no Jews gleefully bathed their hands in the blood, as the Palestinians did. Contrary to Todd's claim, it's not Jews who are restrained by lack of opportunity, it's Palestinians.

So many alleged similarities between Israelis and Palestinians are facile. It is popularly argued that plenty of Palestinian children have been killed by the IDF - but plenty of German children were killed by Allied forces. There is a world of difference between inevitable civilian deaths in a war, and the deliberate targeting and hands-on murder of children, rachamana liztlan. And the idea that the side inflicting more casualties is in the wrong is especially bizarre - does anyone apply that reasoning to WWII?

Todd argues that Jews have a tendency to make fine distinctions with their own, and to paint their opponents with a broad brush. I have no doubt that that is often the case. But I think that even a careful analysis will reveal a vast cultural difference. Cultures are not all the same. British culture is different from American culture, and even more different from African culture. And Israeli/Jewish culture is very, very different from Palestinian culture.

89 comments:

  1. Wish I could remember where I read, years ago, about a Palestinian mother who named her newest-born after an older brother who was martyred in some bombing attack on Israel. The reporter quoted her as saying something like it was her deepest wish to continue giving up children to jihad and naming children after dead siblings.

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  2. The fact that we know the name "Baruch Goldstein" proves the point. We can name the Jewish terrorist. Go name a Palestinian terrorist. Baruch Goldstein is the exception that proves the rule.

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  3. We are not like them.
    We have one Baruch Goldstein. They have thousands.
    We teach our children to hate how he became. They teach their children to be just like him.
    We hang our heads in shame when we hear that a Jew has does something terrible to an innocent Arab. They hold a street party when innocent Jews are killed.
    We guard our children with our lives. They strap bombs to the waists of theirs.
    We value life. They value death.
    If they would stop firing, we would be at peace. If we would stop firing, they would come and kill us all.
    There is no comparison and anyone who thinks there is can only be called a sick Jew-hater.

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  4. It's true that the Arabs are more bloodthirsty than Jews. However, it's completely irrelevant. One need not be "better" than one's enemy. In most wars, neither side is "better" per se. They are simply fighting for the same piece of territory, with each side belieiving that the land in question belongs, or rightfully should belong, to it.

    Hence, I don't care if we are morally "superior" to Arabs or not. In fact, if we killed civilians the way Arabs did, we would be much better off. I, for one, would kill 10,000 Palestinians a week until they unconditionally surrendered. But then again, killing civilians is not in fashion nowadays and has not been in fashion ever since the A-bomb thankfully killed 100,000 civilians and ended WWII.

    My reaction to the murders is not shock and grief. We all know how barbaric the Arabs are. There's nothing shocking about it; it's expected and will happen again. Our reaction should be to kill our enemy, not talk about how barbaric they are. (And our enemy is not a few individual terrorists; it is the Arab population in greater Israel.)

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  5. There was an interesting study of casualty statistics done a few years ago. It indicated that while deaths on the Israeli side where more or less randomly distributed across gender and age groups, deaths on the "Palestinian" Arab side where heavily concentrated among men between the ages 16 - 30. This pretty much proves that while the vast majority of Israeli casualties where randomly targeted civilians, the vast majority of "Palestinian" Arab casualties where boys and men actively involved violent conflict.

    I backed up a copy on my website:

    casualty_statistics... - Land of Israel

    Please exuse the state of the site, I haven't updated it for a while. I think I've also got a link to the Ramallah lynching video somewhere on there...

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  6. "Now, clearly there are moral questions raised by some mitzvos in the Torah. I can think of ways of resolving them, but I'm not sure that it's relevant here."

    It may not be relevant for this specific post, but I think that it is very relevant in general. Such a post would be appreciated.

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  7. To be honest, today, I resent the fact that we haven't been like them.

    Look how much they have gained from the terrorism. If only there were Jews who would be willing to give up their lives to get rid of this thorn in our side so the rest of us can live peacefully.

    We have much to learn from our Palestinian brothers. They keep telling us to stop the ethnic cleansing, maybe its time to start it.

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  8. I don't entirely disagree, but I think you overlook some key points:

    1) Israeli humanity toward Palestinians is mostly rooted in secular Western values, not Jewish ones. It closely mirrors American soldiers' treatment of Iraqis, for instance. When it comes to the Palestinian issue, the most left-wing Israeli Jews are mostly secularists, while the most right-wing are mostly religious. What Judaism traditionally values above all is Jewish life, and it would be fine with slaughtering Palestinians en masse to remove a real and serious threat to millions of Jewish lives.

    When confronted with an enemy who refuses to surrender, the Torah prescribes that we kill all of their men and enslave their women and children, and nothing in rabbinic writings that I'm aware of contradicts that. Indeed, things like that were standard practice until recently -- no source more than a couple hundred years old is likely to condemn it, and Judaism closely adheres to sources much older than that.

    2) Israelis don't target civilians because they don't need to -- they have the IDF. The Israelis' overwhelming military superiority permits them to destroy any Palestinian target they like with very high odds of success and quite low risk of casualties, so they can afford to be picky about morality without making big strategic sacrifices. Palestinians are armed mainly with assault rifles, and face drastically lower odds of success if they attack military targets. They do prefer to attack soldiers if they can, but can only do so reliably if the soldier is unprepared and alone. Otherwise, if they want to cause any damage at all, they have to attack civilians.

    3) The Israelis overwhelmingly have the advantage in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and winners are usually magnanimous. Palestinians have lost far more to the Israelis than the reverse, so it's to be expected that the Palestinians hate the Israelis far more than the reverse. If Jews don't joyfully dip our hands in the blood of slaughtered Palestinians, it's partly because we have the luxury of dispassion.

    Not only have we suffered many fewer casualties than the Palestinians have, but we also have independence (which the Palestinians have never had), a fair and just government, much more wealth, and so on. Israel is a first-world democracy, while Palestine is worse off even than most Arab dictatorships. So the Palestinians are plagued by envy as well as hatred.

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  9. That was great, Yehudah. At first I thought I might explain how biased the people here are toward thinking that their motives are always peaceful and the "Plestinian's" always "barbaric." But you just came right out and spoke your mind; no amount of bias could misinterpret it!

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  10. Michael A. SingerMarch 15, 2011 at 3:36 AM

    Rabbi Slifkin -

    This type of post is very effective at revealing another, perhaps more negative side of your regular commentators and yourself. To characterize "Palestinian culture" in this way is demeaning and essentialist, and truly unbecoming of the rationalist/critical methodology you yourself employ and that you encourage other Jews (Orthodox and non) to use. The same folks who happily denounce the thought processes and statements of "obscurantist" Orthodox rabbis like the ones mentioned in your blog are the same people who fail, time and time again, to think rationally about Israel.

    Always remember that one side's "terrorist" is the other side's "freedom fighter." Israel really doesn't need any "terrorists" because it has an extraordinary powerful army that can blast the residents of the West Bank and Gaza to smithereens if it wants.

    As long as Israel continues to do what it does in the West Bank, and as long as the US and American Jewry continue to look away and/or offer encouragement, the situation will not change.

    Why is such viewpoint not considered "rational," or at least too difficult for your otherwise "rational" readers?

    Sincerely,
    Michael A. Singer

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  11. This post is pointless and worse than that, inappropriate. To even countenance the suggestion of moral equivalence between Palestineans and Jews, even if only to deny it, is pureile, facile, and incredibly insulting. As well devote a post debunking the flat-earthers.

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  12. Would just add: It's one thing to set forth the opinions of certain Charedi Jews, however misguided we think them, for the purpose of showing their errors. That's a contrat worth highlighting. But to accept a postulate, even if only for a moment, even if only for the sake of argument, that such animals as the Itamar beast can be found among us? In my opinion, it's bad taste and poor judgment. That's all. Needed to be said.

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  13. Some idiots are writing that it is understandable why the palestinian terrorists kill civilians because the Israeli army is much superior to them,therefore they can only kill civilians.

    Please explain why that Justifies their actions.
    How is it justified to kill an innocent person(even more so a kid)only because you are not able to kill an armed man
    Such an action is Evil,Cowardly,and when killing kids it you can add monstrous.
    there is a Talmudic saying that goes something like this,"Those who have mercy on the wicked,will end up being wicked to the meryfull"
    And indeed these commenters show that by sypathyzing with Monstrous Murderers who deliberately target tiny innocent children,they have shown their wickedness by trying to justify such horrific murders.
    Why not help them carry it out,huh?
    I mean,you think it is Ok,it is justified,so go ahead do the right thing and go help kill those kids,because you're too outgunned to kill soldiers...

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  14. "But to accept a postulate, even if only for a moment, even if only for the sake of argument, that such animals as the Itamar beast can be found among us? In my opinion, it's bad taste and poor judgment. "

    Oh, but they can. Or hadn't you heard of Deir Yassin? Abu Shusha? Perhaps the Lod death march? The Kind David hotel? Eden Natan-Zada? Baruch Goldstein? The Gush Emunim Underground?

    To what do you ascribe your moral superiority? Is it your genetic superiority? Your super-duper neshama?

    Your comment is what is in bad taste. It's distatsteful enough to be insensitive to the Palestinian plight. It's biased to think you would act any differently if the situation were reversed. But it's a whole different level of self-delusion and racism to think that there's some law of nature which differentiates you morally.

    (Actually, if it were a real law of nature, you would have no problem discussing it. It's the myths for which serious conversation has to be proscribed. I always find it fascinating when people grow up to discover there was no global flood but still need to believe that Israel was for us "A country without a people for a people without a country.")

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  15. There are animals found on both sides. The difference is how the public reacts to the actions of those animals.

    There are clearly Jews who are monsters, just look at all the pedophiles and rapists if you refuse to say that someone who kills an innocent Palestinian is still not a monster.

    If in Gaza they cheer when a 3MONTH OLD BABY IS KILLED, what does that say about their society?

    AS Jews, our society never cheers the deaths of Palestinians, we always try to justify why lethal force was necessary, to protect our own lives. No one is ever happy that the Arab civilians are killed, but if it is a choice between them or us, we choose ourselves. Just because the coward terrorists hide behind innocent civilians doesn't means we aren't going to protect ourselves.

    True, there are some people who do cheer in our society, but they are not out in the streets dancing and publicizing their thoughts. Why? Because it is an unacceptable way to act.

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  16. To what do you ascribe your moral superiority? Is it your genetic superiority? Your super-duper neshama? ...it's a whole different level of self-delusion and racism to think that there's some law of nature which differentiates you morally.

    It's not a "law of nature," nor a genetic difference. It's a result of different cultures. Are you claiming that there is no such thing as cultural differences? Do all cultures have the same view of women, of wealth, of shopping? There are differences between cultures in everything - why do you think that it's impossible that there are cultural differences with regard to violence?

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  17. "There are differences between cultures in everything - why do you think that it's impossible that there are cultural differences with regard to violence?"

    Indeed; there are different cultures. One is the culture of a free people who can buy a house and assume it will remain standing, build a business and reap the profits, travel to work and abroad as desired. The other is a culture of prisoners (actually, literally as 50% of males have been incarcerated) who may be stopped for hours travelling to a nearby town, who may buy a house but must worry about it being bulldozed, who may start a business but will likely watch it fail without rights to import, export, or get to meetings. The Palestinian may own a farm, but can't live on it because it has been expropriated. Perhaps an Israeli simply lives there now. Perhaps he's been cut off from it by a wall. Of course, there's not much he can do about it. Forget forming policy, it's illegal for him to simply gather peacefully in protest. The same laws which Begin referred to as "worse than the Nazis" is the law we now use to govern the Palestinians.

    I digress. Yes, I'm sure there are differences in our cultures. I imaging my community would be different were it suddenly stripped or houses and rights and transported to a refugee camp. I have no doubt that Palestinian culture would be different were they to live freely in their own country.

    The essential point is that we're both human, indeed closely related genetically. No doubt you can recognize historical cultural changes within Judaism. If you want to change Palestinian culture, ask yourself honestly what you think the factors are which shape it. But you'll accomplish nothing if you regard them as subhuman and believe the best way to change their culture is to keep kicking them.

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  18. So (if I understand you correctly) you agree that they may have a more violent culture, but you claim that this is all explicable in terms of injustices committed by Israel. What reason do you have to think this? Of course the hardships caused by Israel (themselves caused by other factors) are a factor, but what makes you think that this explains everything? Again, you are assuming no innate differences between Palestinian and Jewish culture. Why, when there are so many differences in cultures in general?

    And by the way, empirically speaking, I don't think that you can entirely account for Palestinian violence by invoking their treatment by the State of Israel. The Hebron massacres were before there was even a state. And Jews have been persecuted far worse without forming a culture that celebrates brutal murder.

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  19. Todd, I am not sure how you think my reaction confirmed your experiment. I gave you sources from Amnesty International, Al-Arabiya and Ayad Jamal Al-Din an Iraqi MP. All non-Jew and Arabs speaking about themselves. You have not replied to them. I consider Ayad Jamal Al-Din one of the greatest people living today. He is a true believer and a humanist. These sources confirm your experiment? I don't know what exactly is your problem, but I don't think you are engaging in a substantive discussion.

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  20. Avi and Aryeh simply ignore the pervase culture of violence that is found THROUGHOUT the Arab world. The violence of the Palestinians is not because "they are oppressed". Their standard of living is higher than that of the Arabs of the non-oil-rich states. That includes Gaza.
    Look at the ongoing Muslim-on-Muslim violence in Iraq, which usually frequently targets civilians. Same in Pakistan, a non-Arab Muslim state.
    Michael Slackman, one of the more perceptive reporters the New York Times has reported at length about the endemic violence in Egypt (pre-revolution). He reported that in one neighborhood in Cairo that has a population of IIRC 50,000, there were 18 people killed within a period of a few days in lines of people to buy bread.
    Look at the civil war in Lebanon. Look at the civil war in Algeria. Hundreds of thousands of dead. Look at Somalia which has been in anarchy for years. Look at the war now in Libya.

    In the Qur'an Muhammed said the Jews were "cowards" because they, unlike his brother Arabs, hated bloodshed. This is repeated today by Muslim preachers in order to convince their people that if Muslims use enough violence against us, we will fold up.
    As they themselves say, they "welcome death". They say it themselves.
    Yes, there have been bad Jews. Yes, we fought a bloody civil war 2000 years ago and there were similar events in Biblical times. But we are , as a people, ashamed of these things. Amin Ma'alouf, a Lebanese Arab writer, who wrote the excellent book "The Crusades Through Arab Eyes" pointed out that the only place where a spontaneous demonstration took place protesting a massacre of Arabs took place in Tel Aviv (regarding Sabra and Shatilla). Have you heard of demonstrations in "enlightened Europe" with its large Muslim population protesting the intra-Muslim slaughter in places like Iraq or Pakistan?

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  21. "ndeed; there are different cultures. One is the culture of a free people who can buy a house and assume it will remain standing, build a business and reap the profits, travel to work and abroad as desired"

    Great, so you agree that Jews living in Yehuda and Shomron who get their homes destroyed by the Israeli government should go out and kill some Palestinians.

    "One man's terrorist is another's freedom fighter"... And that is why naming our new cultural center the Baruch Goldstein cultural center will not make anybody bat an eyelash.

    The more I read how Israel is involved in ethnic cleansing, the more I wish it really was.

    If anything can be learned from peoples' reaction to this murder its that terrorism and random murder is the best long term solution to own's goals. Sure people might be outraged for the first 5 -20 years, but luckily they won't do anything harsh because then they would become just like the enemy and then after a while they will not be upset and give in to your demands.

    I feel so liberated now that the solution has become so clear. Thank you Peace Now for opening my eyes.

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  22. Aryeh said:

    They do prefer to attack soldiers if they can, but can only do so reliably if the soldier is unprepared and alone. Otherwise, if they want to cause any damage at all, they have to attack civilians.

    This is a complete and utter lie.

    The "Palestinian" Arabs specifically target civilians and prefer civilian targets for a variety of reasons, none of which has to do with the lack of viable military targets.

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  23. Avi said...

    Or hadn't you heard of Deir Yassin? Abu Shusha? Perhaps the Lod death march? The Kind David hotel? Eden Natan-Zada? Baruch Goldstein? The Gush Emunim Underground?

    There was no deliberate killing of civilians at the battle of Deir Yassin. I've personally spoken to people who where there, and while the people who attacked ( mostly members of Menachim Begin's Irgun ) may have been somewhat incompetent in the art of urban combat, there was absolutely no deliberate targeting of civilians. In fact, they drove a truck with a loudspeaker on it announcing their attack and warning civilians to leave.

    The King David Hotel was the headquarters of the British military command and clearly a legitimate military target. In addition, the Irgun phoned the hotel 15 minutes before the explosion and warned them to evacuate everyone from the building.

    Eden Natan-Zada? Baruch Goldstein?

    Both unstable loners condemned by 99% of Israeli Jews.

    Abu Shusha? Perhaps the Lod death march?

    Never heard of them.

    The Gush Emunim Underground?

    Insignificant marginal group hunted down and disbanded by Menachim Begin while he was Prime Minister, IIRC.

    The point is that deliberate attacks on civilians are condemned across the board by 99% of Israeli society while the majority of the Muslim "Palestinian" Arab society celebrates them.

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  24. Singer said:

    Always remember that one side's "terrorist" is the other side's "freedom fighter."

    I call left wing moral relativist BS. Either you believe in right and wrong or you don't. If you don't, shut your trap. If you do, stop being a hypocrite.

    There is nothing that, "Israel does in the West Bank" which justifies the kind of barbarism the Arabs engage in and celebrate. If you think there is then YOU ARE EVIL.

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  25. After all the bus bombings, all the hacking with hatchets and knives, all the terror and murder and attempts to wipe out our entire people, and for decades with no response from the govt and no violence to put the enemy in its place and make them fear us instead of showing them we are in fear of their terror, and only rewarding them and constantly telling us to ignore the terror because it's our 'peace partner,' I will cheer any Baruch Goldstein, and any Jewish hero who RESPONDS to the violence of our enemies. Because there is no 'superior morality' that requires us to take it lying down. On the contrary, doing so only emboldens the Arabs because the middle east functions through the language of strength, NOT weakness.

    I have not been radicalized by any rabbi or any ideology. I have been radicalized by the Arab enemy's vicious brutality and the Ghetto-Jews of the Israeli govt who support, fund, arm, train, and reward them. I can never condemn a jewish hero who takes revenge and retaliates to the Arab violence (of course it never happens, but when it does, I will cheer).

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  26. I understand your sentiments - your frustrations are certainly shared with many, including myself.

    My only regret about the post is that due to the nature of this blog it was bound to stir up machloket. And I'm not sure that's what we need when 5 members of a family have just been brutally murdered and laid to rest.

    To that end I just want to express my profound sorrow and pain for the Fogel family. May their memories never be forgotten... May all those left grieving be granted strength, clarity and long life... And may we see better times ahead.

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  27. Truth in reporting:
    Here is a link to the article Michael Slackman wrote referring to the normal, day-to-day killings that go on in Cairo. I was wrong about the population of the neighborhood, which he does not give, and it was "only" 11 people who had been killed, instead of the 18 I seemed to have remembered:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/14/world/middleeast/14cairo.html


    Here is a link to another article about the immense amount of sexual harrassment of women that occurs daily in Cairo (recall the recent gang sexual assault on the reporter Logan or Lohan). Note that is this is violence and harrassment inflicted on their own people. So how do you think they would think about violence directed at an enemy people?


    http://harassmentinegypt.wordpress.com/2010/03/23/street-harassment-and-male-power-in-egypt/

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  28. For those who doubt the wide spread admiration for Muslim baby killers throughout the Arab world look at the case of Muslim Arab baby killer Samir Kuntar.

    The mother and lone survivor tells the story of how he slaughtered her family.

    Al Jazeera Throws Party for Child Killer (Samir Kuntar)

    Or go to the Memri website for a better quality version of the video, but you have to register.

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  29. there can be no doubt that todays arab culture espouses violence and death, one need only read a few pages of the revealing novel "son of hamas" to get an inside view into the activities of the Muslim fundamentalists. The notion that the arabs have only become terrorists because of Israel, is ridiculous and has no basis in history. If anyone reads up on the history of the religion of Islam one would realize that even its very beginnings were marked by murder and bloodshed (mohhammmed march on mecca). Although this is true, I would not say that the muslim religion in itself preaches hatred but there is no doubt that its current leaders at the very least perverted its true messages. The fact that the grand mufti of jerusalem, haj amin al hussieni (equivalent to our chief rabbi) was a nazi criminal and mastermind behind many jewish murders, reveals the nature of the "religious" leaders of islam. Imagine any of our chief rabbi's supporting genocide and terrorism. I never understood why my fellow jews must out liberal and out hate the regular anti semites. Jews such as Norman Finkelstein and Noam Chomsky make me nauseous, and the idea that there are modern orthodox people that agree with their twisted views is sad news indeed.

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  30. I think we should listen to Arabs and Muslims themselves. Why argue? Let them tell us what they think and why. What does come out is that there is a small group of enlightened humanists and reformers both secular and religious that all think that the current traditional interpretation of Islam is at the root of the Muslim word's problems. They don't blame anybody but themselves. They are great and courageous people. The rest? Just listen and see for yourselves.

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  31. One of the problems which Jews such as Todd suffer from is lack of moral clarity. There is no moral equivalence between the victim in a conflict ("the good guys") and the aggressor ("the bad guys".) The Palestinians seek our destruction and whatever suffering which they endure as a result should not cause us any anguish.

    It needs to be reiterated also that there is no moral equivalence between pre-meditated attacks by an aggressor nation against innocent civilians and reprisals against their civilian population. In much the same way there is no moral equivalence between Auschwitz and the bombing of German cities such as Dresden which hit civilian areas as well.

    Thus, before one rushes to condemn Jewish terrorists of which there are few one should re-examine one's moral sensibilities.

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  32. I'm rather surprised by both the extreme right and extreme left wing comments on this post.
    I agree with R. Slifkin that the Palestinian-Arab and the general Arab world in general have a much more violent culture than Jewish culture.
    Yet I believe that in Palestinian culture that has been greatly exacerbated by the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. However, I would not place the larger share of blame on the Israelis. While, their behavior has not always been perfect. The general direction of the government and almost the entire Jewish-Israeli population and even most of the Jews who live in the territories is to avoid violence and to act morally. When violence is necessary for Israeli security, it is not something which is enjoyed or celebrated.
    While much of the world sees the Itamar murders as immoral, they see it as an isolated immoral act in a justified conflict. In other words, they see the violent resistance of the Palestinian Arabs as justified, however they believe that violence should not be perpetrated on children or civilians (unless they are adult "settlers").
    Much of the world believes that the Israelis cause Palestinian aggression by holding on to the territories captured in the 1967 war, which they say is illegal and immoral.
    The BBC in a recent article about the Itamar incident referred to the area as being occupied Palestinian territory. They have already decided who the territory belongs to. Even though there is some legal dispute over settlement, where most of the world sees it as contrary to international law. Who the land belongs to is far from decided. The land was captured from Jordan (who seized illegally in 1948 from what was part of the British mandate of Palestine). Jordan later relinquished their claims to the land.
    Reuters referred to the IDF as the Israeli Occupation Forces.
    When main stream media, is clearly taking sides in a conflict one cannot expect the reporting to be fair and one can expect it to sway world opinion. Beliefs are heavily swayed by what is in vogue in one's particular circle, and being Pro-Palestinian is in vogue in Europe and in certain circles in the US. Now even "friends" of Israel who insist that they recognize Israel's right to exist securely, state that they are in favor establishing a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza.

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  33. First of all, to those it may concern, please stop with the sycophantic "Baruch Goldstein was a Jewish terrorist" line. The Shamgar report on that attack is boring to slog through, but worthwhile. Prior to his attack at the mosque, Goldstein was aware of Arabic-language threats of a mass attack on Jews. Weapons were stored at the mosque to facilitate such an atrocity. He went in to prevent it. (There are many other interesting details in the report.)

    Three-month-old Hadas Fogel was not planning any such attack at the time of her murder, nor did she keep a cache of weapons under her crib.

    Second of all, some of you are looking very narrowly at the whole Israeli-Palestinian thing. Look at Muslim-Arabs communities around the world at all economic levels and you will see disturbing trends that are not merely the result of "radical fundamentalists." If you are able, talk to Muslim-Arabs in Israel and ask their opinion on a range of issues.

    Next, we need to answer the following questions:

    Do you know what "grooming" is in England, who are the "groomers," who are the "groomees," and who utilizes this system?

    Do you know what child marriages are and how many Muslims manage to perpetuate them, even in Western countries where such marriages are illegal?

    Are you aware of the statistics regarding Muslim opinions (particularly young Muslims who were born and raised in the US and England), on carrying out terror attacks against ANY NON-MUSLIM (and not just against "the evil occupier" Israel)?

    Do you know that the rate of rape in Norway has skyrocketed and that 68% of rapes are being committed by 14% (Muslim) of Norway's population - and 80% of the Muslim rapists' victims are Norwegian women, not Muslim women? (This is extremely unusual because most rapists rape within their group and are acquainted with their victims.)

    Do you have any idea the rising rates of female genital mutilation in Muslim countries (Ex: Egypt - 98%)?

    Have you any clue whatsoever the acceptance and encouragement of wife-beating in the Muslim community?

    How about cruelty to animals?

    Forget about what the Torah or the Koran literally says. How have each of their aggressive-sounding verses been UNDERSTOOD and INTERPRETED by each of their authorities throughout the millennia?

    Now, please nudge your POV a bit further east and look at the Palestinians in Jordan, including the ones in refugee camps. Their conditions, amount of freedoms, and second-class status are far worse than for Palistinians in Israel. Yet they commit no terror and speak very highly of the late King Hussein. How does your Western mind explain their positive attitude and law-abiding behavior in light of the fact that on King Hussein's orders, Jordanian troops massacred thousands of them 41 years ago?

    Do you honestly believe that people who favor wife-beating, FGM, the "grooming" of underage non-Muslim girls, non-consensual polygamy, and the marriage of pre-teen Muslim girls to men in their 20s (or even 60s) should have equal rights to yours in a democratic system?

    (Yes, I realize not all Muslims hold by these warped values, but many do.)

    On a personal note, Natan Slifkin, I own some of your books, have read most of them, and know of many people who have been positively influenced by them. I bought COC as a way to do teshuvah for having followed that stupid ban, which I apologize to you for having followed. (And I got quite a lot out of the book, so thank you very much.)

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  34. To Avi, and anyone who else who might believe that - the only think I will say, and the only thing that should be said, is: See Proverbs 26:4

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  35. There is nothing more inherently violent about a Fakestinian than any other person. They are violent because they want to destroy us and are willing to do something about that desire. Their culture is built on destroying us and that task requires violence! So by us being "less violent" we are only furthering their goal and hastening our suicide.

    Furthermore, there is no one to "impress" about being less violent culturally than muslims and arabs. No one awards us a medal for that or retracts their UN condemnation over it. The only one to "impress" would be God if we Jews really believe He exists, and in that case I highly doubt that God is impressed or pleased with our suicide. Suicide certainly doesn't impress me.

    Now do the math with the implications of the above statements, and I don't even need to elaborate.

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  36. You're completely right, R' Slifkin. At the same time, it worries me that I sometimes see statements, particularly among people (like me) who oppose settlement evacuation and a Palestinian state, in favor of mass killings or forced transfer of the general Palestinian population. I'm not an Israeli, so I don't know the general attitude toward such statements in the dati leumi community, but I hope that people in that community (as well as others on the right) speak out against that kind of talk when they hear it.

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  37. It’s obvious that our culture, morals and values are superior to the Palestinians.

    We’ve established a democracy in the Middle East. The Palestinians have elected a dictatorial theocracy that advocates the destruction of Western civilization. Why are people uncomfortable with the idea that one culture can be superior to others? For thousands of years, the Jews have enlightened, discovered and invented. To quote Saul Bellow:” Who is the Tolstoy of the Zulus?”

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  38. I love it how Jews are almost incapable of criticizing evil in others without searching for - or inventing - something comparable in themselves to "balance" their criticism. Comparing Baruch Goldstein, hy'd, to a nation which has sought to wipe out Jews for the last century is ludicrous. Even the Israeli government, which condemned Goldstein, admitted that an Arab attack in Hebron was likely (go here to read it for yourself http://www.mfa.gov.il/MFA/Government/Law/Legal%20Issues%20and%20Rulings/COMMISSION%20OF%20INQUIRY-%20MASSACRE%20AT%20THE%20TOMB%20OF%20THE). People who want, nay need a Jewish terrorist chose to ignore the fact that he obviously did what he did to prevent another terror attack.

    Even forgetting this, the fact is that there is a state of war between the Jews and the Arabs, a war which the Arabs have forced upon us, which we are responding to but did not initiate. It's dishonest (not to mention disgusting) to ignore that. The Arabs in EY have, as an entire population, made themselves our enemies and have regularly given their support to every form of violence used against us. I cannot begin to imagine what sort of twisted mind would begin to compare Baruch Goldstein to PLO or Hamas terrorists; it frightens me to see some people here doing just that.

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  39. Yishai, there are alternatives to killing them all or forcibly expelling them. See this editorial I wrote for Arutz-7 a few years ago:

    There is an Alternative

    People just aren't willing to think outside the box allot of the time...

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  40. The tone of this post and, more so, that of many of the comments is a disturbing indication that emotional response can easily override rational discourse. Consider that Israel's cadre of people who can engage in fighting a war is totally dwarfed by the corresponding number of young men in the Arabic world. Nor is there a continuing large difference in their fighting abilities and armaments vis-a-vis the Israelis. The regional Arabic armies have steadily improved in both, and there are populous and well armed Muslim countries in the region as well. The emotional response to a horrific massacre of a family is to immediately assume that it was perpetrated by Arabs, even if no Palestinian group has claimed responsibility. Such response is then accompanied by statements asserting the hatred of Jews by Arabs - as if all Arabs harbor such feelings and are prepared to act upon them. It is precisely this attitude, if it becomes sufficiently widespread, that insures an ultimate confrontation whose outcome may jeopardize the very existence of the yishuv.

    Consider, too, that the current Palestinian top leadership in the West Bank is a far cry from Arafat. Our reaction to them should reflect that consideration. Instead of delaying tactics and confrontation, there should be a serious effort at accomodation to a seemingly inevitable Palestinian Arab state.

    I am not an inveterate and naive accomodationist. I originally supported the settlement efforts of the Gush Emunim pioneers and the later acquisition of housing in E. Jerusalem by the Ateret Kohanim organization. Those early efforts were consistent with the mitzvah of yishuv ha'aretz. However, they also had the effect of engendering hatred and radicalization among their adherents. Now, they are a detriment to Jewish life in Israel, and may endanger its existence.

    Nor should one take the liberty of assuming that GOD will prevent a catastrophe in Israel. Given the many injustices and misbehaviors among the leading officials and personalities in Israel, it's hard to be sanguine about divine protection. There is no evidence that a great resolution, i.e., the Messianic Age, is upon us. It would be highly naive to act as if that were the case, much less, to attempt to force such an epochal event by means of rash actions or, even, ill considered stubbornness by Israeli leaders.

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  41. I think some of the posters should read this site which explains why Muslims have been so succesful in terms of numbers. It is relevant to this post
    http://www.citizenwarrior.com/2007/10/terrifying-brilliance-of-islamic.html

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  42. "So (if I understand you correctly) you agree that they may have a more violent culture,"

    Frankly, I don't know what their culture is like, and I suspect that most here don't either. From what I know of Palestinian culture, there's a strong emphasis on family and education, kind of like some other people I know. I also know that if I were a Palestinian, I'd be angry and resentful, and I would therefore accept that they may feel this way as well. I skipped arguing with you about a point which I cannot prove one way or the other.

    " but you claim that this is all explicable in terms of injustices committed by Israel."

    I ran a multivariate regression analysis using all other cultures, both extant and historical, as controls, and this was the only remaining variable.

    Sorry for being facetious, but I believe if you pretended for a moment that Palestinians were human beings, you would understand. And until you do, I can't explain it to you.

    "Of course the hardships caused by Israel (themselves caused by other factors) are a factor,"

    This is a side point, but the hardships caused by Israel are not all caused by other factors. What they claim is for security often isn't: Israel doesn't need to restrict importation of food to the Palestinians for security reasons. They didn't need to _intentionally_ destroy their economy in the gaza invasion. On the other hand, Israel doesn't take simple steps that could help its security. They left tons (literally) of explosives in Gaza after the invasion and prevented(!) their destruction, preferring Hamas to guard (?) the explosives. Israel received funding from the US for a missile protection system to protect themselves from Palestinian shelling but Israel isn't quite sure it wants to deploy it for that purpose. While it's hard to imagine Israeli politicians are so heartless that they actually hope for Palestinian attacks, they don't seem to be terribly worried either. (Perhaps best to ignore the slightly conspiratorial second half of this paragraph. Worth thinking about but not central to this issue.)

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  43. "Again, you are assuming no innate differences between Palestinian and Jewish culture. Why, when there are so many differences in cultures in general?"

    Sorry but I just don't know what you're trying to say. What is an "innate" difference in culture? The very concept is an oxymoron. Cultures are different as a result of different histories, experiences, environments. Either that or you're back to the genetic/neshama theory.

    "And by the way, empirically speaking, I don't think that you can entirely account for Palestinian violence by invoking their treatment by the State of Israel. The Hebron massacres were before there was even a state."

    I'm not discounting your example of violence, but if you truly believe that the early Palestinian attacks were for no reason, you ought to learn something about the time period. The Palestinians objected to our ever-increasing numbers and to our desire to take over their land. A desire which we continue to have and implement. I'm not trying to justify that riot nor similar riots but to add perspective (as it happens, I believe the Hevron riot was in response to rumors that we were killing Palestinians). In any case, this proves their violent nature no more than subsequent Jewish atrocities proves ours.

    "And Jews have been persecuted far worse without forming a culture that celebrates brutal murder."

    I'm not sure which type of people you hang out with in Israel these days, but I promise you that there is an Israeli culture that celebrates murder. No one can account for all the variables which form a culture, but it seems that when we have been given the opportunity for violence, whether in biblical times or the modern age, we haven't done too shabbily ourselves. I'm not interested in condemning Jews, but merely in pointing out that we're not all that different. I suspect that with some honest introspection you might agree.

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  44. "There was no deliberate killing of civilians at the battle of Deir Yassin."

    If your friend says so I'll just ignore the fair amount of research from numerous eye-witnesses to the contrary. I'll also ignore the explicitly previously stated desire of lehi soldiers to kill the villager's and scare the arabs.

    I guess like some contemporary IDF operations, some of the killing can be claimed to not target civilians although when you throw grenades through house windows that's usually what happens. And I guess when you machine gun anything that moves (the men, women, and children running in the street) you can claim you didn't intentionally target the civilians. But it's documented that women and children were killed even after they were already taken captive. Irgun members claimed (though I guess no one can "prove" it) that lehi members raped girls and later killed them. Men were paraded through the streets and later shot. The victim's jewelry was removed before they were shipped off or killed.

    All of this, by the way, after a peace agreement had been made between this town and its Jewish neighbors and after the village of Deir Yassin had, on multiple occasions, turned away Arab militants who asked for their help or who wanted to stay there.

    But we're so different from them culturally; such a thing could never occur by us.

    "In fact, they drove a truck with a loudspeaker on it announcing their attack and warning civilians to leave."

    Where does the Israeli idea come from that if you tell people you're coming before you kill them, then it's okay? Is it the biblical injunction for kriyas shalom? In any case, said truck got stuck in a ditch outside the village.

    "The King David Hotel was the headquarters of the British military command and clearly a legitimate military target."

    Legitimate if you don't mind killing civilians along with them (20% of the dead Jews, btw. Or 100% of the human dead, depending on your perspective).

    "In addition, the Irgun phoned the hotel 15 minutes before the explosion and warned them to evacuate everyone from the building."

    Oh, it's okay then. I heard the Palestinians called a while back to evacuate the settlements.


    "Eden Natan-Zada? Baruch Goldstein?

    Both unstable loners condemned by 99% of Israeli Jews."

    Yeah, condemned. There's some evidence, you know, that the government was expecting Natan-Zada's attack and let it happen. And I know plenty of people ready to be melamed zechus for Dr. Goldstein. Just read the comments on this "rationalist" website, and you'll find sympathy for Jewish terrorism.


    "Abu Shusha? Perhaps the Lod death march?

    Never heard of them."

    Can't blame you for not having heard of Jewish massacres, after all, we don't do things like that.


    "The point is that deliberate attacks on civilians are condemned across the board by 99% of Israeli society while the majority of the Muslim "Palestinian" Arab society celebrates them."

    And, as I've said before, if the roles were reversed, so would we.

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  45. One thing you have to grant to them: They have no leftist lunatics like we do.

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  46. Robert,

    The Arabs attack civilians because they're at war with the Jews living in the area they consider Palestine and attacking civilians is the most effective way for them to win their war. I would do the same exact thing if I were them. (I might be less brutal about it, but does that really matter?)

    And, by the way, they're winning. Killing civilians has gained them international attention and commiseration. It also has worn the Israeli populace down so that it is willing to do anything for "peace."

    They're at war. We're pretending like we're not. That is the entire problem in a nutshell.

    (Oh, and Lechi never made advance phone calls like the Irgun did.)

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  47. Israeli humanity toward Palestinians is mostly rooted in secular Western values, not Jewish ones.

    True, but Western secular culture IS the superior culture. It allows every individual to worship and think as he wishes, believes in equal rights for all citizens and equality before the law. It believes that the government is elected to serve the people. The closer a culture comes to this ideal the greater it is. Add to it the ethics of rationalist and humanist Judaism, Christianity or Islam and it becomes awesome. It's just very unfortunate that whereas the Jews and the Christians have succeed in doing so to a significant degree the Muslims have failed so far. Anyone is disagreeing here?

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  48. Yehuda, you don't think that it's a better world where armies fight each other on the battlefield and respect each other's civilian population? I think it's a step in eliminating the war altogether. I agree about extreme situations like nuking Japan, which was done to save lives.

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  49. When confronted with an enemy who refuses to surrender, the Torah prescribes that we kill all of their men and enslave their women and children, and nothing in rabbinic writings that I'm aware of contradicts that.

    Nor am I, however, the Torah reflects the NORMS of the contemporary society, not the ideal. We are changing the norms now. These changes are in the spirit of the Torah and are bringing us closer to the ideal.

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  50. Avi you choose to believe Israel's enemies who try to kill us and so give us your stupid sources as eyewitnesses. You choose to believe those who would kill you and laugh at you saying how stupid you are for believing them. We have settlements that we have to leave from and they don't have settlements and can stay? There was no Palestinian people or country. What wars did they have and leaders and coins? Here is about http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/History/deir_yassin.html It ought to be more reliable than the garbage you peddled. Why didn't Yasser Arafat sign on the dotted line? Why didn't the Palestinians if they want a state and to stop new settlements negotiate? If they don't there are more settlements built. What people says we will have no state for ourselves as long as there are settlements being built and so then cause more settlement activity to go on? That would be stupid for any people really interested in a country for themselves. Did America say no independence as long as the British have forts on American soil? That would have been stupid for us.

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  51. Avi, by fair amount of research by eye witnesses I assume you mean the fellow arab vilagers that claim that the Israeli stabbed and rapped pregnant woman. I advise you to read the very thorough book "Oh' Jerusalem" and during the section about deir yassin, if you follow the footnotes they readily admit that all information about it was supplied by arab eye witnesses. If you are willing to trust such people even though they have lied continously and clearly have an agenda to claim what they say, then your credibility is questionable. You seem more willing to be melemed zchus on the arabs then on your fellow jews. I am in no way condoning Baruch Goldstein, but if your going to believe arab eyewitnesses you should also believe the excuses they make for goldstein.

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  52. Y. Aharon said...
    ... The emotional response to a horrific massacre of a family is to immediately assume that it was perpetrated by Arabs...


    And what is the rational response? Who else is likely to have perpetrated it?

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  53. Carol,

    The first rule in any war should be to win it as quickly as possible. It would be nice if civilians weren't involved in warfare, but it's unrealistic and often harmful to pretend like they're not.

    Israel lost 13 soldiers in Jenin a couple of years back because it refused to bomb the city from the air. You may think that's moral; I thight it's immoral to risk one's own soldiers to protect the lives of Arab civilians (who incidentally, are far from innocent).

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  54. Daniel said:
    Now even "friends" of Israel who insist that they recognize Israel's right to exist securely, state that they are in favor establishing a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza.

    Every Israeli PM after Rabin has been in favor. Netaniayhu is in favor. Why should the friends of Israel disagree if Israeli government thinks its a good thing?

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  55. Nathan, I laud you on the balanced approach. However, the question remains, what should be our response? I would split the responses into 2 broad categories. I intentionally polarize them to illustrate:

    1. The Palestinians are like the Nazis. They are evil, must be fought and delegitimized until defeated. In this thinking there is no room for empathy, theory of mind, are trying to understand the other. Their actions are guided by mindless and irrational hatred of Jews, we are the innocent and victimized party, and therefore we bear no responsibility whatsoever in the conflict.

    2. The Palestinians have a problematic society, for which there are a variety of reasons. However, their problems are also our problems, since we must live with them. Therefore we need to take some responsibility, at least not to aggravate their hatred of us, and perhaps to alleviate it.

    Personally I go with #2, but I honestly can't objectively prove that #1 is false.

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  56. Carol said...

    When confronted with an enemy who refuses to surrender, the Torah prescribes that we kill all of their men and enslave their women and children, and nothing in rabbinic writings that I'm aware of contradicts that.

    Nor am I, however, the Torah reflects the NORMS of the contemporary society, not the ideal. We are changing the norms now. These changes are in the spirit of the Torah and are bringing us closer to the ideal.


    This is an extremely important point that allot of people ( including Orthodox Jews ) completely miss. There are numerous examples of mitzvot which in their contemporary cultural context where great improvements over the NORMs of their day, yet where recognized by later rabbinic authorities as less than ideal. Isha Yafat Toar is a perfect example of this.

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  57. Well, I'm a bit disappointed that nobody has a good counter argument to my and Yehuda's position.

    What do you do when the bad guy tactics are obviously superior and more effective than our so-called moral high ground.. especially when morality is viewed as "to each their own"?

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  58. Avi:

    Deir Yassin: History of a Lie

    What happened at Dir Yassin? ( quite a bit shorter )

    I know all about the lies spread by both the Arabs and the Palmach about Deir Yassin, by the Arabs because they thought it would raise motivation to fight and by the Palmach to smear Begin. So if there was no battle at Deir Yassin, who killed the 10 - 12 members of the Irgun who died there? Their names are engraved on a memorial plaque ( together with all the other Irgun and Lehi members killed prior to and during the war of independance ) at the Achdut Synagouge on Yaffo street in Jerusalem, next to the old orphanage and the Clal building.

    So if British military headquarters isn't a legitimate military target according to you, what is?

    I've met your type hundreds of times: no use of force by Jews is ever legitimate because our state was supposedly born in sin, but anything the "oppressed" Arabs do is OK.

    Yeah, condemned. There's some evidence, you know, that the government was expecting Natan-Zada's attack and let it happen.

    And I'll bet you think Bush planned 9/11 too. Just another Chomsky / Frankenstein style professional truther and Kapo.

    The problem isn't the sources you rely on for your info, it's your value system which is so twisted it can't make simple determinations of right and wrong.

    Arguing with your type is a waste of time...

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  59. "When confronted with an enemy who refuses to surrender, the Torah prescribes that we kill all of their men and enslave their women and children, and nothing in rabbinic writings that I'm aware of contradicts that."
    Carol, if you look in the Rambam in Halachot about Milchomos, a lot of the laws he brings down emphasize the mercy and pity we have on our enemies. For instance (this is off the top of my head i know that there are other examples) there is a din that when attacking a city, you must allow for the civilians to have a way out of the city away from the battle, and it is asur to surround the city completely and siege it.

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  60. "What do you do when the bad guy tactics are obviously superior and more effective than our so-called moral high ground.. especially when morality is viewed as "to each their own"?"
    "We have much to learn from our Palestinian brothers. They keep telling us to stop the ethnic cleansing, maybe its time to start it."
    Amateur- The ideas you are expressing are undoubtedly kneged the halachic rules that apply to warfare. but even from a non-halachic standpoint your position is ludicrous. From a purely common sense standpoint, if Israel is treated by Europe horribly now and is trying its best to minimize casualties, there would nothing short of total warfare on israel if it began to adopt the same terrorist tactics as the Palestinians,Furthermore I am not sure where your definition of moral comes from, for neither halacha or any other ethical guidebook will describe it as "to each their own"
    The comments on this blog are almost a microcosm of the severe double criticisms Israel receives from its own citizens when forming policy regarding the arabs. They must deal with left wing self hating jews (i.e Chomsky, Finkelstein) and also deal with the right wing overzealous people who pervert torah and halacha to support their crazy ideas (i.e Meir Kahane). Thankfully it seems like Israel is doing a good job if both extremes are not satisfied

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  61. I have yet to hear any sound or persuasive halachic or moral argument which would refute why under the circumstances in which we live-the Palestinians seek our destruction-we should not work towards expelling the Arab population from Israel.

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  62. Harazielli-listen to this shuir on the topic. It might give you some clarity.
    http://www.yutorah.org/lectures/lecture.cfm/736599/Rabbi__Kenneth__Brander/Warfare_and_Judaism

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  63. Yehuda, I am for bombing Jenin from the air at times of war when so required, like in that operation. I agree that there is no moral superiority in endangering your own troops to protect the enemy's civilian population. This is not what you wrote. You said: ' In fact, if we killed civilians the way Arabs did, we would be much better off. I, for one, would kill 10,000 Palestinians a week until they unconditionally surrendered.' This is what I am against. Would you personally kill them or how?

    Auyb Kara relates the following story. When his father saw women fighting in the ranks of Hagana, he made his decision to join the Jews against the Arabs. Because a nation where women fight on a battle filed cannot be defeated. Why? Because women soldiers were a manifestation of a superior morality, fighting spirit and culture of the Jews.

    Moral superiority is important for the fighters themselves. Israelis love the army and are proud of it and for a good reason.

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  64. Robert, exactly. See Rambam's explanation of Isha Yafat Toar in the Guide.

    Ametuer, blowing each other's civilian population to smithereens, like they do in Iraq is not superior tactics. What have they achieved? I don't see ANY advantage to that.

    BA said:
    Carol, if you look in the Rambam in Halachot about Milchomos, a lot of the laws he brings down emphasize the mercy and pity we have on our enemies.

    I know, but the international law takes it a few steps further. No more extermination of male inhabitants and enslavement of women and children. This is what makes the Western secular culture superior. Do you want to enslave women and children also? I am sure not.

    Harazieli, there is no problem with transfer of population as Robert had suggested in his article. It's all consensual and for the benefit of the people being transferred. Nobody is against.

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  65. "From a purely common sense standpoint, if Israel is treated by Europe horribly now and is trying its best to minimize casualties, there would nothing short of total warfare on israel if it began to adopt the same terrorist tactics as the Palestinians,Furthermore I am not sure where your definition of moral comes from, for neither halacha or any other ethical guidebook will describe it as "to each their own""

    While a nice theory, the facts say otherwise.

    Iran and Pakistan kill the opposition. They support terrorists, and they have no problem sticking their nose at the west. China, North Korea, and Venezuela as well.
    In Sudan, the government continues to kill and rape people in Darfur. Even while there is civil war in Lybia, the "world" refuses to use military action there.

    I see no reason why today, there is any risk of full out war.

    In places like Egypt where the government was moderate and friendly with the west, they lost power by keeping their hands away from murder. But the more cruel the country today, the less the west interferes.

    And yes, morality is "to each his own." In Saudi Arabia, women are not allowed to drive, and there are roads which declare "muslims only", yet Saudi Arabia is not under threat of war. In Sweden, marriage is open to all sorts of partners, and in China you are forced to abort your second child. Each country defines its own morality, and as long as they are strong and don't waiver nobody does anything to change it.

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  66. "I have yet to hear any sound or persuasive halachic or moral argument which would refute why under the circumstances in which we live-the Palestinians seek our destruction-we should not work towards expelling the Arab population from Israel."

    Your own comment is the argument against you.
    The Palestinians seek our destruction, the Arab population of Israel does not.

    Perhaps you meant to say that we should work towards expelling the Palestinian population from Israel, but that is not what you said, and you should think about that difference.

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  67. "Iran and Pakistan kill the opposition. They support terrorists, and they have no problem sticking their nose at the west. China, North Korea, and Venezuela as well.
    In Sudan, the government continues to kill and rape people in Darfur. Even while there is civil war in Lybia, the "world" refuses to use military action there."
    Amateur, perhaps you have been living in a box, but most of the world judges Israel by a double standard, and if Israel adopted the policies of any of the countries you mentioned it would be complete politicide. Furthermore although western countries have not raged warfare on your mentioned countries, there are economic boycotts and other such things, which to a country like israel would be devastating

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  68. Avi katz - uri milstein has proven wrong many of the things you are claiming about deir yassin.

    Rabbi Slifkin- why bother to even engage in the argument with avi katz and others like him? Who cares if the Fakestinians' culture is more violent than ours or if it's inherently evil. Do you want some kind of medal for that? No one cares about us.

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  69. Michael A. Singer said...
    "Always remember that one side's "terrorist" is the other side's "freedom fighter." Israel really doesn't need any "terrorists" because it has an extraordinary powerful army that can blast the residents of the West Bank and Gaza to smithereens if it wants.

    As long as Israel continues to do what it does in the West Bank, and as long as the US and American Jewry continue to look away and/or offer encouragement, the situation will not change."

    To sound Talmudic I'll say let your ears hear what your mouth is saying. You admit that Israel could blast the West Bank and Gaza Arabs to smithereens but doesn't and then you say Israel is to blame for the situation not changing. Israel has offered peace. Why doesn't Israel blast them to smithereens? If Israel uses force as a deliberate policy to achieve its aims it would win even short of blasting to smithereens. The answer is the other side attacks and then Israel responds. Israel has to compromise and the other side doesn't? You are the nonrational one. History will show your side as the failed shortsighted side that helped the side of bloodshed by blindness and/or moral cowardice.

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  70. Always remember that one side's "terrorist" is the other side's "freedom fighter."

    Michael Singer, this is a trite, banal, sophmoric and thourghouly wrong statement.

    Terrorism is a tactic! It is a tactic used to impose ones political belief over others by cowering them into submission, rather than by persuading them through reason or justice. Terrorisim aims to do exactly what the name implies, terrorize the people so that they will capitualte.

    Freedon Fighters do not use terrorism to achieve their goals. Indeed, the stateted goal of most Palestinian terrorist could be much more efficiently and quickly achieved by non-violent means. In the case of Palestinian terrorism, at least in the post intifada, post Oslo manifestation of it, has been to prevent the imergance of an independant Palestine State.

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  71. Michael Singer,

    The more I thing about it, the more stupid your comment seems!

    Freedom Fighters do not need to murder babies or children to acheieve their political goals.

    Only animals without morality would see that justifiable in any possible way!

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  72. BA,

    "I advise you to read the very thorough book "Oh' Jerusalem" and during the section about deir yassin, if you follow the footnotes they readily admit that all information about it was supplied by arab eye witnesses. If you are willing to trust such people even though they have lied continously and clearly have an agenda to claim what they say, then your credibility is questionable."

    The allegations of rape came from both haganah and british sources. The particulars of rape are beside the point though; there was a massacre at Deir Yassin and it wasn't the only Jewish massacre.

    Robert,

    "Deir Yassin: History of a Lie"

    Seriously? The ZOA? Should I point you to a hamas version?

    "So if there was no battle at Deir Yassin, who killed the 10 - 12 members of the Irgun who died there?"

    Are you not the very person who claimed that the irgun was "incompetent in urban combaat?" There was a battle which turned into a massacre. But don't worry, you can hold any number of conflicting explanations simultaneously as long as your conclusions don't change.

    "So if British military headquarters isn't a legitimate military target according to you, what is?"

    1) A hotel is expected to have a large number of civilians; it is not an army base. 2) Even if there were no better option, I guess you view expected civilian collateral casualties as acceptable. No real surprise I guess. 3) I'm not sure why there has to be a legitimate target for killing the British. Certainly the British were far better to us than we have been to the Palestinians, but I doubt you support any Palestinian attacks, even against military installations.

    "And I'll bet you think Bush planned 9/11 too"

    And I'll bet that even after public admission by the Israeli government you deny that in 1954 we bombed multiple targets in egypt, including american and british targets, with intention to blame the muslim brotherhood and egyptian nationalists, all in an effort to trick the british into not withdrawing their troops. Or is that too conspiratorial? (For the uninitiated, google the Lavon affair.)

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  73. Michael A. SingerMarch 17, 2011 at 3:55 AM

    Well, I have thoroughly enjoyed the comments in this post, and many of those directed at me have confirmed exactly what I thought was going to happen. Too many folks resort to ad hominem attacks to belittle people who disagree or take a different approach, or even question terminology.

    What words from original post in any way justified the events at Itamar? I was taking issue with the Rabbi's characterization of Palestinian culture.

    What is the outcome when Orthodox/observant Jews call other Jews "hypocrite," "animal," "stupid," "self-hating," etc?

    Rabbi Slifkin - it would behoove to increase your moderating when dealing with posts that focus more ad hominem attacks than making reasoned points.

    Sincerely,
    Michael A. Singer

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  74. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=301G8fTOvYs&feature=player_embedded

    Some of you might find this interesting (and for the rest of you, of course Eldar is a liar).

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  75. Michael Singer,

    You cannont hide behind the "ad hominem" defence to avoid dealing with the substance of the criticism leveled against you.

    "One mans terrorist..." is a political slogan used to impress sophmores (first year) college students. A moment of reflective thought would shout out the falsehood that underlies the messege. A Terrorist is a person who relies on Terror as a tactic to achieve their political objectives, without regard for what those political objectives are. Murdering (not killing, actually standing over them and slitting their throat) children speaks volumes about the moral depravity of the people who bothe endorse this tactic, as much as the people who perpetrated it (to say nothing of the society that celebrates such barbarity).

    Your "ad hominem" sheild, however, does highlight the lack of intelectual ability that you have demonstrated in this discussion. It is possible to call you stupid (which I didn't by the way) -as a statement of fact- and still have constructed a rational argument that deserves a response.

    Michael Singer, as someone who had substituted pathetic slogans, for real thought, it should not have surprised me that you were unable to offer a substantive reponse to the substantive critcism leveled at you.

    I hope that you are feeling smug about yourself in your self fullfilling prophesy, you should know that the rest of us see through your transperant lack of intelect.

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  76. "The allegations of rape came from both haganah and british sources. The particulars of rape are beside the point though; there was a massacre at Deir Yassin and it wasn't the only Jewish massacre"
    Avi- lets say that you are correct about deir yassin and there was a maasacre, still the particulars of rape our very important especially when trying to compare two cultures. The Israeli's at their worst (according to you) killed innocent civilians, while the Palestinians at their worst brutally massacre babies. Can you really see no difference??

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  77. "http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=301G8fTOvYs&feature=player_embedded

    Some of you might find this interesting (and for the rest of you, of course Eldar is a liar)."

    You know what I find interesting about this...
    I find it interesting that Abbas is mocking Israel for not finding the killer yet, and suggesting that it was some foreign worker (workers who by the way are not hired in Itamar at all) And then with the fact that he has a crowd of people coming to the camera to say these things....

    I think the PA is protecting the murderer, especially since one of the orgs already took responsibility for it, and yet nobody in that org is being arrested by the PA.

    It smells of organized media response to me.

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  78. "Too many folks resort to ad hominem attacks to belittle people who disagree or take a different approach, or even question terminology."

    Maybe I missed it, but the comments I saw said that your idea was stupid, not that you were stupid... They also didn't discount your argument because of who you are, just that the argument itself is really lame.

    So what ad hominem are you talking about?

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  79. Michael A. SingerMarch 17, 2011 at 4:48 PM

    Another problem with posting on this topic is if you say too little, you tend to be misunderstood, and if you say too much, you risk not saying it in a comprehensive way and then opening up more problems..

    Saying "one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter" may sound trite, banal, sophomoric, juvenile, puerile, etc., but it is largely correct. However, in no way does this statement justify slitting baby's throats. I think some folks were trying to make this connection, but I wasn't.

    I'm simply wondering: At what point do "terrorists" become "freedom fighters"? Who gets to define these terms? The winners or the losers?

    When did the colonial American militiamen stop being "terrorists" and start being "freedom fighters"?

    When the pre-1948 Mandate Jews stop being "terrorists" (at least considered by the British) and start being "freedom fighters"?

    How about all the colonized folks who overthrew their European/Asian colonial powers? Did they use "terrorism" to achieve their goals?

    These questions are fair, adult, and mature.

    Also, if one side uses knives to slit babies' throats, and another side drops bombs on babies' heads, is one a "terrorist" and the other "mistaken"? Who decides? And why are folks so eager to make distinctions and excuses for one but not the other?

    As I said before, the "situation" (however you want to define that) will not change until adults can come up with some adult answers to these very adult questions.

    I hope this well elicit some more adult comments.

    Sincerely,
    Michael A. Singer

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  80. These questions are fair, adult, and mature.
    Also, if one side uses knives to slit babies' throats, and another side drops bombs on babies' heads, is one a "terrorist" and the other "mistaken"?


    That is not a fair, adult, or mature question. Because the answer is so obviously "yes," that one can only wonder what sort of thinking lies behind such a question. It's like asking, if two people give a baby an injection which kills it, and one is a doctor whose medicine went wrong, and the other is Mengele y"sh performing an "experiment," then is one "mistaken" and the other "a sick murderer"? Yes, of course, and to even ask the question is bizarre.

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  81. R' Natan, kindly refrain from criticizing a phrase of mine without the context. The relevant sentence was directed primarily at the rather extreme views aired by most commenters, which should have been anticipated.

    As to the 'offending' phrase. It is, indeed, unclear at this point as to the perpetrator(s) of the family massacre. I will grant that the doer(s) of the deed likely came from outside the yishuv,i.e., some Arab terrorist(s). Nonetheless, someone from the yishuv can't yet be excluded such as a disgruntled foreign worker or a deranged Jew. My point is that easy generalizations, much less, calls for a violent response are inappropriate.

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  82. Dear Michael Singer

    The problem is not the forum, or the brevity of your arguements, it is the silliness of them!

    When did the colonial American militiamen stop being "terrorists" and start being "freedom fighters"? About the time they stopped shooting civilians and started shooting soldiers. The better question is “at what point in time did they stop being illegal insurgents and start being freedom fighters?”

    ”When the pre-1948 Mandate Jews stop being "terrorists" (at least considered by the British) and start being "freedom fighters"? About the time they stopped murdering (you know actively targeting) civilian, and started targeting soldiers and military instillations (sorta like what soldiers do).

    Also, if one side uses knives to slit babies' throats, and another side drops bombs on babies' heads, is one a "terrorist" and the other "mistaken"? About the time when one stood over the crib of the baby and slit its throat. Please note Michael, it is the terrorist who hides behind the human shield (you know his/her own wife/children) and lobes the bomb, and then cries foul when the retaliation targeted at them also kills their shield. There is a gulf of moral difference between killing a child as a collateral due (again) to the tactic of the opposition (in this scenario, of hiding their “fighiting” resources in civilian areas, behind “protected” targets) and deliberately targeting those same children. That you cannot see that moral difference says more about your thought process than all of your illiteracy so far. (You know, terrorism is a tactic, as I have said several times to you.)

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  83. Saying "one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter" may sound trite, banal, sophomoric, juvenile, puerile, etc., but it is largely correct. However, in no way does this statement justify slitting baby's throats. I think some folks were trying to make this connection, but I wasn't.

    The statement "one mans..." is precisely that, a defence to justify the righteousness of a barbaric act. It is an arguement about moral relativism, i.e. that I should not condem the actions of the terrorist since for some people he/she is fighting for their "freedom". Sending bombers into hotels and resteraunts is morally excusable because it is a legitamate tactic against oppression.

    Let's ignore the validity (or otherwise) of the oppression arguement (other than to say that terrorism has delayed not advanced the peace process), and deal only with the intent to murder as many people (civilian, not soldiers) as possible. It is a simple question, under any conditions is it moraly reasonable to attempt to achieve political objectives by murdering people not actively engaged in anything other than living normal lives? Is it morally excusable to delibrately target an individual who has no capacity to actually voice an opinion about your circumstance (you know, like a child).

    Michael, I have dealt with your silly (non)-equivalencies already. Your inability to see the moral distinctions actually highlights everything that is wrong with what passes for thinking in post-modernist thought.

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  84. "It's like asking, if two people give a baby an injection which kills it, and one is a doctor whose medicine went wrong, and the other is Mengele y"sh performing an "experiment," then is one "mistaken" and the other "a sick murderer"? Yes, of course, and to even ask the question is bizarre."

    Your question is indeed bizarre but so is the idea that it is similar to Mr. Singer's question. Comparing a Palestinian terrorist to Mengele can be forgiven; however, comparing the dropping of heavy explosives in densely populated areas to a doctor's medicine cannot. Israel certainly realizes that civilian will die.

    If you'd like to argue that the collateral damage is acceptable then "mature adults" can have that
    discussion. But to rebut with such mengele/doctor simplistic thinking only reinforces the argument that a high degree of maturity is required for the conversation.

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  85. comparing the dropping of heavy explosives in densely populated areas to a doctor's medicine cannot.

    I was not making any such comparison.

    My point was that there is no comparison between deliberately killing a baby by hand and to engage in a war in which babies are likely to die as collateral damage. And to think that there is, is bizarre.

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  86. I guess continuing the conversation will probably not be productive. Interestingly, lehi's goals and actions were very close to that of the Palestinian terrorists (only they had no claim to sovreignty). Here is a quote from Jewish terrorist Yitzchak Shamir:

    There are those who say that to kill Martin [a British sergeant]is terrorism, but to attack an army camp is guerrilla warfare and to bomb civilians is professional
    warfare. But I think it is the same from the moral point of view. Is it better to drop an atomic bomb on a city than to kill a handful of persons? I don’t think so. But nobody says that President Truman was a terrorist. All the men we went for individually—Wilkin, Martin, MacMichael and others—were personally interested in succeeding in the fight against us. So it was more efficient and more moral to go for selected targets. In any case, it was the only way we could operate, because we were so small. For us it was not
    a question of the professional honour of a soldier, it was the question of an idea, an aim that had to be achieved. We were aiming at a political goal. There
    are many examples of what we did to be found in the Bible—Gideon and
    Samson, for instance. This had an influence on our thinking. And we also learned from the history of other peoples who fought for their freedom—the Russian and Irish revolutionaries, Garibaldi and Tito.

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  87. Avi said:

    I guess continuing the conversation will probably not be productive. Interestingly, lehi's goals and actions were very close to that of the Palestinian terrorists (only they had no claim to sovreignty). Here is a quote from Jewish terrorist Yitzchak Shamir:

    You have it backwards... It's the Palestinian Arabs who have neither a legal nor moral claim to sovereignty...

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  88. Rabbi Slifkin,

    I realized later that the last paragraph in my comment above could be misunderstood as saying that I bought your books, but haven't necessarily read them (which sounds kind of dumb - why buy them and not read them?). But really, I meant that I have read most of your books and also own some. And the ones I own, I've read several times! I look forward to reading more of your books. You should have much hatzlachah.

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  89. Just got this from TIP:

    Nearly two-thirds of Palestinians in both the West Bank and Gaza oppose Itamar murders

    Washington, April 8- A new poll shows that across both the West Bank and Gaza, 63% of Palestinians say that they oppose the murder of the Fogel family in Itamar in early March for TIP’s coverage of the murders click here). This is an encouraging number that shows the Palestinian leadership does not have to endorse terrorist actions for political reasons.

    However, it is equally as disturbing that a full third of Palestinians support these brutal killings. This high number only underscores the need for the Palestinians to end the culture of hate that leads to this unnecessary loss of life.

    The poll was conducted March 17-19, 2011 by the Harry S. Truman Research Institute for the Advancement of Peace at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research in Ramallah, for the full press release click here.

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