For the past five weeks – through kidnappings and murders, through the rockets and the incursion and the mounting deaths of Israeli soldiers – I’ve too often ignored my own good advice: Don’t get swallowed into the vortex of online comments.
Even in good times it is best to avoid the often mind-draining and hateful reader comments found at the end of Internet articles. And these are not good times. These are dangerous and sad times.
Facebook comments are a bit different – for one, everyone is identified as herself, and second, comments are usually left by people you know or who are within a degree or two of separation.
And so I’ve recently engaged in a number of “dialogues” through comments on Facebook posts.
In one such post I linked to an article on Times of Israel by David Horovitz which, in essential part, said:
Israelis are not perfect, our leaders are not perfect, and not all of their policies are always wise. But at the most basic level, our hearts are most emphatically in the right place. Most fundamentally of all, we want to live. And we want those around us to live – those, that is, who do not rise up to kill us.
I was challenged, in the comments under this link, that “claims of moral supremacy [don’t] promote self-reflection, and such claims can be dangerous for the coming days.”
I soon saw similar warnings against taking (or boasting of taking) the moral high ground as “unproductive,” “juvenile,” and “pointless.”
One Jewish Facebook poster wrote, “Celebrating our differences isn’t the way to a solution.”
I have a feeling that many of these comments were in reaction not only to editorials and other posters promoting Israel’s moral superiority but particularly to Benjamin Netanyahu himself. For Netanyahu has often made such comparisons, notably after the killing of Muhammad Abu Khdeir.
“This is how we are different from our neighbors,” he said after the Shin Bet and police had arrested six Jews for the murder. “Their murderers are hailed as heroes and public squares are named in their honor.”
Indeed, what is the point, I started to wonder. To boast? To feel good? But the truth is that making this distinction is important for exactly the reason Netanyahu has said many times: to emphasize that Israel is engaged in an “asymmetrical conflict.”
Israel’s war against Hamas, and how Israel is engaging in it, is moral precisely because Hamas hails terrorists as heroes.
Noting Hamas’s moral depravity is not merely crowing, it’s making this point: Israel is fighting against a ruthless enemy that disregards the lives of its own civilians. Let everyone know that Palestinian society regularly glorifies terrorists as role models, naming streets, summer camps, schools, graduation ceremonies, and sporting events after them.
And then people should ask themselves, What can a country do against such an immoral enemy?
Israel’s morality is underscored by its unprecedented – and frequently unheralded – restraint and care for loss of life. The loss of Palestinian life stems from Hamas’s depravity.
Should the international media, government officials, and everyday people expend far more of their outrage on ISIS and its viciousness in Iraq and Syria, or the actions of the brutal Syrian government, or the dozens of other hot spots across the globe?
Sure they should, but that’s beside the point. Let them focus on innocent Arabs who have died in Gaza as long as they simultaneously focus on Hamas’s kidnapping of the nearly 2 million residents of Gaza as props in its war on humanity.
The other half of this coin is that Israel, aside from a few blemishes, has acted moral and principled since its founding, and continues to do so now.
About the Author: Shlomo Greenwald is associate editor of The Jewish Press.
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