January 30, 2004 - In describing the significance of the latest terrorist attack I would like to dispense with the usual pictures of the victims and details of the atrocity. After a while all the images seem to blend into one big blur. This time I would like to view it from a different perspective: the significance of one individual life.
Yehezkel "Chezi" Goldberg, 42, was one of those killed in the Jerusalem bus bombing that left 11 dead and at least 50 wounded yesterday.
Chezi was a counselor who worked with troubled teens and their families. Originally from Toronto, he set up a practice in Jerusalem. Eventually he became a senior member of the Gan Harmony Project Outreach, and the director of "Lifeline," a service for young people and families in distress. He advocated a proactive approach, addressing problems before they mushroomed into a full-fledged crisis. His principal strategy was early identification of the child's difficulty: Is there tension in the home? Is there an undiagnosed learning disability? What other pressures might be affecting the child? All these are clues to solutions one might implement before reaching the point of emergency.
Chezi specialized in problems affecting immigrant families, and particularly those involving substance abuse. He looked closely at the difficulties families encounter that make such problems more likely, but he always brought a sense of compassion that avoided any tendency to blame. As he put it:
In most cases, the problems stem from the home, not because of bad parenting or situations like abuse. In some cases problems result from the financial stresses that the parents encounter in Israel, or the stresses of trying to establish themselves professionally. In a lot of homes the parents haven't really integrated into Israeli society. They don't speak the language, don't know where to turn for help. There is no extended family to offer support. In a large number of cases the kids have some kind of learning disability that was either not properly diagnosed, or is not being properly managed.
Chezi had the following advice for families under stress:
In addition to his work with young people, Chezi wrote passionately about the terrorist war against Israel. He spoke of its madness, and warned of the dangers of failing to respond, of allowing ourselves to be numbed.
In an article entitled "Because, If You Don't Cry, Who Will?" he wrote:
The scene: 7:30 a.m. Israel time, Sunday December 2, 2001 --- Eight hours after the triple terror attack at Jerusalem's popular Ben Yehuda Pedestrian Mall.
He walked into shul, synagogue. I nodded my acknowledgement, as I always do. He made some strange gesture, which I didn't comprehend. I continued praying.
A few minutes later, he walked over to me and said: "Didn't you hear?"
"Hear about what?" I replied.
He grew impatient, almost frustrated. "Didn't you HEAR?"
I understood that he was talking about last night's terror attack on Ben Yehuda Mall, a trendy night spot frequented not only by Israelis, but also Western tourists.
I assumed that he obviously was intimating that someone we knew was hurt or killed.
I replied: "About who?"
He looked at me as if I had landed from another planet. "About who? About everyone who was attacked last night."
I nodded. "Yes, of course I heard."
"Then why aren't YOU crying?"
But now many are crying. Chezi Goldberg left behind not only his own seven children, but dozens of other children whom he helped through his personal contact and his writing. His friends say he saved many lives. "Even the word 'saint' is not enough to describe him," said one. "He was always ready to make sacrifices to help people."
How can we make sense out of this loss?
The Palestinians can make sense out of it. They have an explanation. They always do.
Chezi Goldberg and ten others were killed to avenge the deaths of ten Palestinians who died in a gun battle with Israeli soldiers in the Gaza Strip. The bomber, Ali Juara, a Palestinian policeman and a member of Fatah's Al-Aksa Martyrs Brigades, left a note saying so. In its own statement claiming responsibility Fatah added an additional reason: the attack on the bus was also intended to avenge Israel's arrest of a senior Brigades member in Tulkarem, Marwan Jalad, a few days before, and "to prove to the humiliated rulers of the Arab and Muslim states who the true guardians of the walls of Al-Aqsa are."
The ten Palestinians who died in Gaza included gunmen from Hamas and Islamic Jihad. They were killed in one of the many battles of the terrorist war against Israel. The terrorists' response was to murder an equivalent number of Israeli civilians - in the process seriously injuring as many as five times more.
Israel is caught in a macabre dilemma. Palestinian terrorists insist on the right to kill noncombatant Israelis. If Israel takes measures against the terrorists, they use it to justify killing even more. The Palestinians call this "the cycle of violence."
This deceptive use of words is typical of the Palestinian Disinformation Campaign. It deliberately uses words that will resonate with Westerners in order to elicit their sympathy: words like "freedom," "liberation," "resistance," "democracy." We will never understand this conflict if we accept such words uncritically. We will never understand this conflict until we realize that the Palestinians are motivated by a different set of values.
Here is another word: "massacre." The whole world was in an uproar about a "massacre" in Jenin that never happened. Yet one massacre after another takes place inside Israel, and one hears no worldwide protest. The Palestinian Disinformation Campaign has successfully cast innocent Israeli civilians as "oppressors" and "occupation forces." In an Orwellian tour de force the Palestinians have sold their organized murder as a struggle for human rights. They have studied Western values and know how to appeal to them. But they do not believe in those values, nor do they aspire to live by them.
To demonstrate this, all we need to do is go to their own words.
Fatah, the group behind the latest massacre, was founded by Yasser Arafat in the late 1950's, long before Israel's presence in the West Bank and Gaza. Its purpose had nothing to do with any struggle for "liberation" against "occupation," unless Israel's very existence is considered an "occupation." The purpose of Fatah was to organize terrorist raids against Israel.
Let's see what Fatah has to say for itself. From the Fatah Constitution:
Liberating Palestine and protecting its holy places is an Arab, religious and human obligation. (Article 9)
Complete liberation of Palestine, and eradication of Zionist economic, political, military and cultural existence. (Article 12)
Opposing any political solution offered as an alternative to demolishing the Zionist occupation in Palestine, as well as any project intended to liquidate the Palestinian case or impose any international mandate on its people. (Article 22)
Convincing concerned countries in the world to prevent Jewish immigration to Palestine as a method of solving the problem. (Article 25)
Clearly "Palestine" means the entire region between the river and the sea, including all of Israel. This is what "Palestine" has always meant to Arab terrorists, both before and after 1967.
The Palestinian terrorist movement is not a struggle for human rights. It is not an assertion of democratic ideals. It is not a movement for national liberation. It is instead motivated by a rather unusual sense of honor that is quite alien to Western values.
Understanding this motivation begins with understanding the Palestinians' true intentions. Over and over again they have asserted their refusal to consider peaceful coexistence with Israel:
The Arab Palestinian people, expressing themselves by the armed Palestinian revolution, reject all solutions which are substitutes for the total liberation of Palestine. (PLO Charter, Article 21)
[Peace] initiatives, the so-called peaceful solutions, and the international conferences to resolve the Palestinian problem, are all contrary to the beliefs of the Islamic Resistance Movement.... There is no solution to the Palestinian problem except by Jihad. (Hamas Charter, Article 13)
Opposing any political solution offered as an alternative to demolishing the Zionist occupation in Palestine. (Fatah Constitution, Article 22).
It is hard to explain the continuing Western deafness to these pronouncements except as an inability to grasp that the Palestinian national movement is motivated by a different set of values.
Palestinians justify the murder of non-Muslims because for them it is a matter of honor. They sincerely believe that by killing Jews they are pleasing God.
This is how a recent Palestinian textbook for eleventh-graders explains it: (The textbook, Islamic Culture, was produced by the Palestinian Authority Ministry of Education. The translation is courtesy of the Middle East Media Research Institute.)
(Page 208): Islam is Allah's religion for all human beings. It should be proclaimed and invite [people] to join it wisely and through appropriate preaching and friendly discussions. However, such methods may encounter resistance and the preachers may be prevented from accomplishing their duty... then, Jihad and the use of physical force against the enemies become inevitable....
Jihad is an Islamic term that equates to the term war in other nations. The difference is that Jihad has noble goals and lofty aims, and is carried out only for the sake of Allah and for His glory… [By contrast] wars by other nations are mainly waged because of wickedness, aggression, love of domination, expanding influence, looting properties, murder, and the fulfillment of ambitions and desires....
(Page 213): Jihad is one of life's needs. A nation cannot defend its religion and uphold its honor and its motherland if it does not have the power to do so. This is why Islam imposed [the duty] of Jihad on the Muslim nation when [a Muslim] society and state emerged in Al-Medina.
Sometimes honor trumps even motherhood. In an interview in the Palestinian Authority daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, the mother of two "martyrs" said:
We have no honor except in Jihad and martyrdom. We have no honor except in self-sacrifice, persistence, and steadfastness.
The sense of humiliation and need to restore honor runs deep in Arab culture. It is connected to a society based on tribal alliances. It is captured in a well-known Middle Eastern proverb: "I against my brothers; my brothers and I against my cousins; my brothers, my cousins and I against the world." If you are wronged by someone outside your immediate circle, you suffer a loss of honor, and avenging that loss takes precedence over every other priority.
What, then, is the offense so great and the humiliation so deep that it must be avenged by the murder of as many Israeli civilians as possible, indeed by the destruction of Israeli society?
It is the existence of Israel itself. How do we know? The Palestinians themselves say so repeatedly, in sermons, textbooks, newspapers, and TV broadcasts. The PLO Charter (Article 23), Hamas Charter (Article 28), and Fatah Constitution (Article 8) all say that Israel's very existence is an offense. The message from Fatah justifying the latest killing tells us the very same thing: "to prove to the humiliated rulers of the Arab and Muslim states who the true guardians of the walls of Al-Aqsa are." Autonomous Jewish existence in the Middle East is a "humiliation" not just to the Palestinians, not even just to all Arabs, but to the entire Muslim world.
Israel's existence is so unforgivably offensive because Israel sits on land that Muslims once ruled, and the Jews are a people whom Muslims once dominated. Israel is a foreign intrusion in the very center of the Dar al-Islam, the "House of Islam." And so Yasser Arafat, who rejected an offer of peace and plunged the region into three years of bloody war, could not have accepted any offer that would have required him to coexist peacefully with this source of Arab shame. To have dealt with Jews as equals would have been for him a loss of honor. The only way to avenge the loss and to restore honor to his people would be to reconquer the land through blood and fire. This is precisely what he set out to do.
Fatah is Arafat's own group. Whether or not he personally plotted the bombing that killed Chezi Goldberg, it could not have happened without his consent.
Perhaps now we can begin to understand the values that motivate the killing of innocent people in Israel, that even make it a sacred duty. These attacks express a different set of values, not those we are used to, and not those we would like to think everyone would share.
The values prevalent in the Arab world justify dehumanizing Jews, killing them, and sanctifying the killers as "martyrs." These values elevate those who kill and destroy, while holding worthless the lives of those who try to build and create and heal, like Chezi Goldberg and many others. These values justify any means in the name of Arab honor, including lying, completely rewriting history, presenting Israel's War of Independence as a wild rampage of Jews against defenseless Palestinians, neglecting to mention that Palestinians attacked Jewish villages for months before five Arab armies finally invaded and tried to destroy Israel in the womb.
And these values threaten not only Israel but also the entire West, especially the United States. In a tape he made last year urging more attacks on America, Osama bin Laden stated:
Allah Almighty said, "All you who believe, do not take Jews and Christians as supporters. Some of them support each other, and those who take them as supporters then they are a part of them." Allah doesn't guide unjust people.
And in a more recent recording Abu Musaab Zarqawi, a senior leader of Al Qaeda, intoned:
"Oh, Allah, rend the kingdom of Bush as you rend the kingdom of Caesar; Oh, Allah, curse the Arab tyrants and the foreign tyrants; Oh, Allah, strike the apostate rulers."
The greatest humiliation of all to the Muslim world is its eclipse by the Christian West, of which the United States is the most prominent symbol. This sense of humiliation has roots deep in history: for this reason Osama bin Laden calls his organization "The World Islamic Front for Jihad Against the Jews and Crusaders." Jews and Christians are the common target of Islamic extremists. The Palestinian terrorists first pursue the Jews, while Al Qaeda first attacks the Christians. Both find honor in the enemy's total destruction.
A system of values in which tribal loyalty is everything, where one pays lip-service to self-criticism but never practices it, where one holds the outsider responsible for all of one's problems, and where any loss of power is a humiliation that must be avenged by the killing of innocents, threatens everything that Western civilization claims to stand for. And it does its worst work when it is unseen.
Bushinsky, Jay. "Al Qaeda Keeps Off Israel for Now." Washington Times, February 1, 2004.
CNN News Staff. "At Least 10 Dead in Jerusalem Terror Attack." cnn.com, January 30, 2004.
Goldberg, Yechezkel. "Because, If You Don't Cry, Who Will?" Jewish World Review, December 3, 2001.
Hoffman, Gil. "Victim Was a 'Lifeline' for Immigrant Kids." Jerusalem Post, January 30, 2004.
Lefkovits, Etgar. "Suicide Bus Victims Laid to Rest." Jerusalem Post, January 29, 2004.
MEMRI Staff. ""2003 Palestinian Authority Textbook Calls for Jihad and Martyrdom." Middle East Media Research Institute, Special Report No. 22, November 14, 2003.
"New Tape: February 2003. Osama bin Laden Urges Attacks on the U.S." Washington Post, February 11, 2003.
Regular, Arnon. "Attack on Bus Was Revenge for IDF Raid, says Bomber." Haaretz, January 30, 2004.
Speisman, Leila. "Prevention Urged to Combat Substance Abuse in Kids." Canadian Jewish News, August 23, 2001.
"Why Are Anglo Kids in Trouble? An In-Depth Discussion with Chezi Goldberg." Shiluv: Israeli Society and Culture for New Olim, No. 2, 2002.
Yehoshua, Y. and B. Chernitsky. "Incitement in the Palestinian Authority After the Aqaba Summit." Middle East Media Research Institute, Special Report No. 20, August 22, 2003.
Peace with Realism