Just an hour ago, I was on my way back from having coffee with Yossi in Haifa, when I heard on the radio that two kids from a Jewish settlement in Gush Etzion were axed (one to death) by a Palestinian who is still unaccounted for. All the radio stations were trying desperately to get information out, regarding the number of kids hurt, their ages, their status, how many terrorists were involved, if they’ve been caught, etc. Every person remotely connected to this event was interviewed, including a young settler who apparently battled with the Palestinian, but could not overcome him. The settler refused to answer questions, and instead went off a rant about the Media doing nothing but lying to the public. Eventually he was cut off. One particular comment that struck me, was the municipality head of Gush Etzion, who said “This just shows what we’re dealing with… terrorists that kill children.”
So it is obvious that Israel will now have a new story to throw around for a few days, and the Media is already “challenging” the new government by making such announcements as “Obviously, the new government will respond. We’ll see how it chooses to do so…” Indeed Lieberman and his party crony Yitzhak Aharonowitz, Minister for Internal Security, will be pressed by their electorate to react “correctly”. If the Palestinian who committed this crime is caught, he’ll be lucky if only his family’s house is destroyed. The new Israel Beitenu boys in town aren’t here to “f#@k around”.
But what really amazed me, was just how much urgency, attention and detail are given to this event in the Media (barely minutes after the event), and I wondered what it would look like, if each time a Palestinian kid was killed by Israel, he/she would receive similar “coverage” (in Israel). Certainly when Baruch Goldstein murdered 29 Palestinians praying at the Ibrahimi mosque, and injuring another 150, plenty of coverage was given in Israel. But just recently, in Gaza, Israel killed some 1300 Palestinians, many of whom were children, and yet… little or no coverage. Why?
I think the answer lies in something I quickly called “The Sanctity of Technological Warfare”. That is, when a Palestinian terrorist axes to death a young Israeli kid, that’s news-worthy. That’s emotional, almost down-to-earth-like. We can picture it, be disgusted by it, and likewise reach fast conclusions about the society to which this Palestinian belongs (the comment above, made by the municipality head of Gush Etzion). Hearing about a family of 13 that was wiped off this planet with a single laser-guided missile, fired from an F-15i Israeli jet, just doesn’t do it for us. It’s too out-of-this-world. We can’t quite picture it. We can’t feel it. Nor can we demonize a society that is so technologically advanced…
There is a kind of automatic and assumed legitimacy that goes along with technological superiority. After all, why would Israel press a button that would release a bomb that costs a few hundred thousand dollars to drop atop some Palestinian building, if it wasn’t really required? The children that were killed in such an attack were, unfortunately, collateral damage. They were victims of War, not of Terrorism. Terrorism is when you carry an axe, and aim to blindly kill and terrorize, not when you sit in a 21st-century, technologically-advanced airconditioned super-vehicle, traveling at Mach 1.2.
The similarity in the way those poor children died (a sudden and violent end) doesn’t matter. How many died is unimportant. The cool-headed and near-sterile act of one, outweighs the rage and primitive act of the other. One is a courageous pilot. The other is a terrorist coward. This is what we believe. And it is what we want to believe.