Murderous Words, Murderous Deeds


Much of the media has focused on extensive criticism of Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu for his comments regarding the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem during World War II, Haj Amin al-Husseini, and whether he initiated the idea of Hitler’s annihilating the Jews or not. As early as 1919 Hitler wrote that Germany must “remove” the Jews, but Netanyahu was trying to make the point, perhaps clumsily, that long before Israel was a state or an “occupier,” Arab leaders in the region expressed their anti-Semitism in the most vile and dangerous manner. So the issue comes down to whether the Grand Mufti wanted to see the Jews murdered or “only” banished from the land of their ancestors.

So much for the notion of religious leaders seeking to walk in God’s ways by preaching peace, not bloodshed.

On the cusp of the 20th anniversary of the assassination of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzchak Rabin, we need no reminder that murderous speech can lead to murderous deeds. More than a few major rabbinic leaders, here and in Israel, spoke of Rabin in the harshest terms, as a traitor and worse, in the weeks and months leading up to his death at the hands of Yigal Amir, a 25-year-old Israeli Jew. Amir felt he was fulfilling a mitzvah by eliminating a rodef, one who pursues and seeks to harm innocent people.

Rabin was seen by his most hostile Jewish critics as seeking a peace deal with the Palestinians that would jeopardize the lives and land of the Jewish people, and thus make him worthy of being killed.

On the anniversary of his death we mourn the man, the leader and the hope he represented; how far we have come from even the dream of peace between Israel and the Palestinians.

Twenty years after Rabin’s murder and 22 years after the Oslo peace accords were signed, Palestinian religious and political leaders still encourage young men and women to take up arms and kill Jewish citizens of Israel, and glorify those who do so as heroes. What’s more, these calls are made in the name of a falsehood that Israel intends to allow Jewish prayer at the Temple Mount.

The mainstream media gives little credit to Israel for almost 50 years of a policy of continuous restraint in preventing Jews from prayer at that sacred spot so as to avoid a holy war. Hateful, outrageous and anti-Semitic rhetoric is so common in the Palestinian media and among Palestinian religious and political leaders that it receives scant attention here.

Has nothing changed?