The Christian Science Monitor’s editorial on Israel’s response to the murder of three teens reads as sympathetic at first glance. Indeed there is understanding shown towards the national grief and trauma that Israelis have experienced over the past few weeks, culminating in the funerals of the three boys.
But the CSM writes:
After an attack on Israelis, their leaders are pulled between a public desire for revenge and possible world reaction to an overly violent response. Excessive violence, especially the hitting of the wrong target, could be seen as violating the ancient code of “eye for an eye” justice. Yet not responding would be seen as weak and an invitation for further attacks.
Breaking a cycle of revenge killings is not easy. One side has to be defeated, back down, or offer a major concession.
By referring to a “cycle of revenge killings,” the CSM falls into the trap of creating a moral equivalence between Israeli and Palestinian actions but more specifically to their motivations.
The anger felt after such an event as the murder of Eyal Yifrach, Naftali Fraenkel and Gil-ad Shaar is understandable as is the human desire for revenge. However, while individuals may act on this impulse, Israel as a nation does not.
Contrast the behavior of Hamas, a terrorist organization that has no compunction in calling for the indiscriminate killing or kidnapping of as many Israeli Jews as possible. Israel, on the other hand, will target Hamas for retaliatory measures and will seek to capture those Palestinians responsible for the teens’ murder.
Can both of these responses be treated as morally equivalent? Hamas does not need revenge as an excuse to target Israelis while Israel’s primary motivation for targeting Hamas and other Palestinian terrorists is not revenge but the desire to protect its citizens while bringing the perpetrators to justice.
The Christian Science Monitor, for all its understanding of Israeli emotions and impulses, shows that it doesn’t understand at all.