Fanatics always turn out to be their own worst enemies. The tragedy is that in the process they often do irreparable damage to their own cause and to those people they are ostensibly trying to help. When Baruch Goldstein entered the mosque in Hebron and repeatedly sprayed Muslim worshipers with bullets, he obviously saw himself as a deliverer of Israel. And although 30 people would die in the attack, Goldstein’s gun was actually aimed at the heart of the fragile peace process he hoped would be the principle casualty of his aggression.
As expected, the emotional and political eruption caused by the killings was violent and far-reaching. Sadly, reprisals from Muslim groups as extreme as the doctor and his cohorts will continue to take innocent lives—Jews and others—for months and perhaps years to come. The fact that Israel has condemned the Kach movement (of which Dr. Goldstein was a member) as a terrorist organization, while commendable, will do little to quell the wrath of those who seek an occasion to buffet Israel and the Jewish people. Thus the man who held the smoking gun at the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron accomplished much more for Israel’s enemies than for himself or his cause.
In the wake of the killings, an immediate hue and cry rose from the Palestinians to (1) disarm the settlers on the West Bank and in Gaza; (2) get rid of the Jewish settlements completely; (3) place blame for the attack on the Israeli government for directing some sort of state-sponsored conspiracy; (4) have United Nations’ troops stationed in the territories; (5) scrap fundamental elements in the peace accord and demand concessions from Israel before Palestinians would return to the negotiating table; and (6) condemn the State of Israel before the world community as an aggressor to be singled out for collective retribution.
While this response was predictable (the shootings were a political coup for Israel’s detractors), the hypocrisy of the Arabs and many in the world community is no less blatant. The resolution offered in the Security Council calling for the virtual condemnation of Israel for the act of one man and his extremist views is old hat for the United Nations. Proclamations of worthy intentions aside, these repeated attempts to condemn Israel for individual misdeeds are a tremendous boost for ever more militant terrorism in the Middle East and the world. The bottom line is that, once again, the infamous double standard used in the Middle East with regard to Israel stands front and center, and it can only aid and encourage the real terrorist states and Muslim extremist groups in the region.
Much has been made about the fact that Goldstein’s attack took place while Muslim worshipers were on their knees, praying in a house of worship. In every sane person’s book, this was a despicable act. We have heard, however, scant public references to the flow of terrorist actions made against innocent Israelis by militant Muslim extremists. Has the world forgotten that Syria and Egypt attacked while Israelis were wrapped in prayer shawls on a day when the entire nation was at worship on Yom Kippur in 1973? Israel’s high holy day was deliberately chosen for the attempt to exterminate the State of Israel because of the opportunity that day of national reverence afforded the attackers. As a result, Israel suffered 6,000 casualties.
Another obvious case in point is the Gulf War terrorism of Saddam Hussein. While Saddam was throwing his Scuds at Tel Aviv and Haifa, Palestinians—including Yasser Arafat himself—were on rooftops wildly cheering the potential death and disaster their tyrant champion had initiated. Israel and her citizens’ reaction, however, was not to rampage through the streets to afflict individual Palestinians. Israel, to her credit, acted as a civilized nation is expected to act.
Acting as civilized people should act. Isn’t this, after all, the fundamental question? Are Palestinians and their mentors from the Arab states going to be expected to act as others do when some tragic misdeed is perpetrated against them? The United States did when 146 American troops were killed by a terrorist suicide bomber in Lebanon. Again after Muslim fanatics killed six Americans and injured 1,000 more in the World Trade Center bombing in New York, the United States responded by going after the actual conspirators, not the Muslim community in general. Israel did after the massacre of its athletes at the Munich Olympics; the Lod Airport slaughter; the Kiryat Shmona attack that killed 18; the 21 school children killed and 70 wounded in Maalot; the bus attack on the Tel Aviv-Haifa road that killed 37 and wounded 87 more, when six Jews were killed and 17 wounded while on the way home from synagogue in Hebron; the bus sent down a ravine that killed 16 and injured 27; the young pregnant mother gunned down hill driving her car two days before the attack in Hebron. And what about the hundreds of bodies strewn across the face of the land and dangling from trees in Lockerbie, Scotland, after the jumbo jet was blown out of the air? America, Israel, and many others in the world have done their mourning, pursued the terrorists, and conducted themselves as responsible nations are expected to act. The United Nations, and some in the international media, are doing no one a favor—especially the Palestinians—by fanning their hysteria with emotion-driven resolutions that can only, in the end, be counterproductive obstacles to any peace initiative.
Israelis, Palestinians, and the rest of us will do well to keep the fundamental issues in view. Whether Israel’s erstwhile enemies in the Middle East like it or not, Israel is a fact. Therefore, the security of Israel and its people is the fundamental factor in the search for stability. Using tragedies like the affair in Hebron as an occasion to weaken or obliterate Israel will achieve nothing. Survival is in security—that fact is essential paving for a road to peace.