This is cross posted by Giulio Meotti, a journalist with Il Foglio and author of the book A New Shoah: The Untold Story of Israel’s Victims of Terrorism. The essay first appeared in Ynet.
“Welcome to hell,” says a graffiti painted in the road to Jenin, the capital of “Palestinian martyrs.” Thirty suicide bombers have come from this city in the West Bank. Here, the Israeli army fought one of its hardest battles, making its way through whole streets booby-trapped with explosives.
This is the same city where Israeli director and actor Juliano Mer-Khamis was killed by a terrorist last week. Mer had chosen Jenin to build his utopia of tolerance. His life and death is the biggest tragedy of modern pacifism. The Islamists made no secret of their hostility to the “deviant” art of Mer-Khamis, who liked to call himself “100% Jew and 100% Palestinian.”
Mer’s lineage comprises the entire history of Israel’s anti-Zionist Left. He was the son of an Arab Christian who was among the founders of the Communist Party, the Red Bolshevik utopia that rejected the Zionist plan, was loyal to Moscow and pushed for a bi-national state.
The director’s Jewish mother was a pacifist icon, Arna Mer, who during the Intifada went to Jenin to create the “Theater of the Stones”, an experimental group for Palestinian children where Mer-Khamis also worked.
Arna Mer won the “Alternative Nobel Prize” given annually by the Swedish Parliament to humanitarian activists. She preferred to be called “Palestinian,” not Jew or Israeli. She was arrested several times during riots protesting Israeli policy in the Territories. She said that “Zionism is a racist ideology.”
Yet all of Mer-Khamis’ pacifism, idealism and radicalism did not protect him from the genocidal ideology that Israel had to confront since its foundation. Just like Massoud Mahlouf Allon, an observant Jewish immigrant from Morocco, wasn’t spared by the terrorists because he was giving blankets to poor Palestinians. And how can we forget all the Israeli kibbutzniks and pacifists decimated in buses and cafés during the Second Intifada?
The above attacks were all the more chilling because the victims were people willing to give up land for the sake of coexistence; they believed in a moral, just, democratic, egalitarian, better Israel.
Indiscriminate anti-Jew hatred
On March 5, 2003, a suicide bomber blew himself up on a bus approaching University of Haifa, killing 17 people and seriously injuring dozens more. This university has a high proportion from the Muslim and Christian communities among its 13,000 students and on its faculty. Like the killing of Mer-Khamis, the bombing was intended to destroy the very idea of coexistence. Abigail Litle was returning home when she was killed. She was part of an Arab-Jewish project for peace.
Two brutal sets of murders took place in November 2002 within a few days of each other. Twelve Israelis were murdered in Hebron; and gunmen entered Kibbutz Metzer, killing five people. Terrorist bullets didn’t differentiate between religious settlers in Hebron and dovish liberals in Metzer. The victims in Hebron were all adults; in Metzer, a mother and her two young children were murdered in cold blood. In Hebron, many of the victims were soldiers; in Metzer, the victims were all civilians.
The irony is that the kibbutz had long promoted coexistence with the surrounding Arab villages. Arab children came to Metzer to play basketball and use the swimming pool. Like Mer-Khamis, the kibbutz opposed the building of a security fence between Israel proper and the West Bank. Kibbutz members said the fence would deprive the Arab farmers of access to some of their fields, which are in Israel proper.
However, this radical pacifism did not shelter the kibbutz from the crime inflicted that horrible night that resembles the butchering of the Fogels in Itamar. The little ones in Metzer were shot in the head, murdered in their beds, dressed in their pajamas and hugging their teddy bears. They died in the arms of their mother, who was trying to protect them.
When Arna Mer-Khamis started her experimental theater, it comprised six Palestinian boys. Five of them have died as suicide bombers and “martyrs.” Now the black hole of hatred has also swallowed up the beautiful Israeli son of this dark utopia.
Mer-Khamis’ body was transferred through a checkpoint to Israeli authorities. It was his sad return to reality. The ancient Greek Thucydides said that it is normal for children to bury their parents, but parents burying children contravene the laws of nature and anger the gods. That’s the most important and saddest difference between Israel and the rest of the “civilized world.” Hatred doesn’t differentiate among Jewish targets.