Judged by a Different Yardstick
By Ephraim Z. Buchwald
These are bitter times for the Jews. And the bitterness is compounded by many factors: the vast numbers of innocent victims killed and maimed by the savage suicide bombers, the incredible rise of anti-Semitism throughout the world, the moral equivalency expressed by even our so-called friends who regularly equate the fate of the Jewish victims with the deeds of the perpetrators. Except for a few bright spots, we Jews feel virtually abandoned.
This lack of balance and fairness is really upsetting.
As a young man, the hypocrisy of the world toward the Jews was permanently driven home to me by one specific case (that was by no means the worst).
In December 1968, the United Nations condemned Israel for destroying 13 Middle East Airlines’ aircraft during a commando raid on the Beirut airport. The commando operation was in response to an attack by Libyan and Palestinian terrorists on an El Al Boeing 707 at Athens airport. The attackers intended to blow up the entire plane and kill all the passengers. Fortunately, most of the terrorists’ grenades failed to detonate and “only” one Israeli was killed and another wounded. There was a major world outcry — against Israel! At the UN, many members, including the United States, called the Israeli response “over-kill” and out of proportion to the event that prompted it. Israel stood alone. The UN Security Council unanimously condemned Israel’s “premeditated military action.” Nothing was said of the terrorism which precipitated the raid. The world’s concern was for the twisted metal airliners, while there was total indifference to the shedding of Jewish blood.
This inequity has been repeated over and over.
When the Yom Kippur War (October 1973) miraculously turned in Israel’s favor, the Soviet Union suddenly appealed to the UN to intervene and stop the war.
The world has always had a double standard when dealing with the Jewish people. Pol Pot murdered millions of Cambodian civilians. There was no outrage, because there was no media coverage.
In Rawanda, in 1994, the Hutu majority shot, hacked or beat to death Â½ million Tutsi civilians in just a few weeks. In one of the most treacherous derelictions of duty of all time, Kofi Annan, then the UN representative charged with protecting the Tutsi minority, turned a blind eye. This same Kofi Annan arrogantly calls for a full-fledged UN investigation of Jenin, to verify whether an alleged massacre took place!
The Washington columnist, Mona Charen (former LSS Beginner), brilliantly captures this terrible lack of balance.
Why has the U.N. never investigated Saddam Hussein for gassing his Kurdish population, or the Syrian government for the massacre at Hama in which up to 20,000 were killed in one day? And why, pray, could the United Nations, as well as Europe and the rest of the world (with the shining exception of the United States of America), never bat an eye as innocent Israelis were bombed and maimed on a daily basis for 18 months to the evident delight of even Ã¢â‚¬Ëœmoderate’ Arab states?
Where is the universal condemnation of Palestinian war crimes? Why have we heard no protests from the Christian world at the barbarous taking of priests as hostages at the Church of the Nativity? Why …are we never told that Palestinian Red Crescent ambulances have been found ferrying bombs and weapons…? Where is the outcry about the summary execution of Palestinians “suspected” of “collaborating” with Israel? Why no protests from human rights groups about the Palestinian practice of strapping belts of explosives on children as young as 10 and sending them out as human bombs? Is this not child sacrifice, circa 2002?
Paraphrasing a most poignant observation, penned by Jonathan Rosenbloom of the Jerusalem Post: Why, we may ask, does the media lavish more attention on a child’s broken doll in Jenin, than they do on decapitated Jewish babies in strollers in Jerusalem?
Add to all this, the Times, the holy New York Times, the so-called “newspaper of record!!” Clearly, the paper suffers from a severe “Jewish problem”!
Why has the New York Times and its Publisher, Arthur Ochs (Punch) Sultzberger Jr., been so incapable of feeling and reporting Jewish pain?
We know that the Times somehow forgot to report about the Holocaust! What a tragic oversight! But now, the Times’ unfair and unbalanced reporting on Israel is outrageous (for details, see honestreporting.com). Punch, do you even remember that your grandmother was the daughter of Rabbi Isaac Mayer Wise, and that your father has served as the long term President of the Jewish Campus Life Fund at Columbia University?
We cry out. We say it’s unfair. There’s a double standard! The world constantly uses an unfair yardstick to judge us. Why must we suffer? Why the Jews?
I strongly believe that the proper response to this unfairness is to say “Baruch Hashem, Thank G-d.” Thank G-d that the world holds us to a different standard. Woe to the day when the world thinks that Jews should follow the world’s moral principles. After all, we are a “Mamlechect kohanim, v’goy kadosh,” a nation of priests and a holy people (Exodus 19:6) — we are to be held to a higher standard, otherwise we lose our uniqueness.
It’s our Torah that says that fruit-bearing trees may not be cut down in times of war. It’s our Torah that says that the enemy must first be offered peace before an attack, and that, when besieging a city, an exit must always be open to allow the enemy to flee. It’s our Torah that says lo tikom, that not only are Jews not permitted to be vengeful, but lo titor, we are not allowed to even bear a grudge.
After the Six Day War, when Golda Meir said, “We can forgive you for killing our sons, but never for turning our sons into killers,” she was merely paraphrasing the verse in Genesis 32:4, where the Torah tells us: “Va’yira Yaakov m’od,” Jacob was afraid, very afraid, “Va’yay’tzer lo,” and he was greatly distressed. Rashi comments that Jacob was “very afraid”–lest he be killed by his brother Esau, but he was even more “distressed” that, in self defense, he might have to kill Esau. That is the Jewish standard. That is the Jewish yardstick. And that is what the State of Israel and our Torah are all about. If we fail to live by this yardstick, if we become K’chol Ha’goyim, like all the other nations, then we are no longer an Am Segula, a special people, a chosen people, or a moral people.
And so, brothers and sisters, while it’s difficult for us to endure the indignities visited upon us by the nations of the world, let us hold our heads up high and proudly proclaim: “Mi k’amcha Yisrael,” Who is like Your people Israel? “Goy echad ba’aretz,” a unique and special people in the world.
While the Palestinians hid bomb-belts in ambulances, Tzahal, the IDF soldiers, in many instances, actually cleaned the homes that they had used. Some soldiers even refused to charge their cell phones using electricity that was not theirs. In other cases, the soldiers left tens of thousands of shekels from their personal funds to pay for any damage to the private homes in which they had been stationed.
This is what we celebrate today. This is what being Jewish means!