Freshly Spilled Blood Dredges Up Old Clichés

For observers of the Middle East, hope for a fundamental shift toward peace remains eternal. The pattern of Arab attack, Israeli response and hypocritical international criticism of the Jewish state is so familiar that it seems almost leaden.

We yearn for an event or a chain of events that will end the repetition of dry, dull clichés about a so-called "cycle of violence" and the need for "restraint" by "both sides." And yet, despite new elections and leaders on both sides, unilateral Israeli withdrawals (with more being planned), the pattern continues to repeat itself.

On Monday, the reassuring rhetoric about peace was again blasted into irrelevancy by a Palestinian suicide bombing in Tel Aviv that killed nine people and left dozens more wounded.

The dust had hardly settled on the murdered bodies of innocent Israelis before the Islamic Jihad group claimed responsibility for the atrocity. And though this attack was not directly conducted by their own forces, the Palestinian Authority's new Hamas leaders immediately endorsed the murders as a justifiable response to "Israeli aggression."

Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the P.A. and a member of the rival Fatah faction, said the killings didn't help the Palestinian cause, an equivocal statement that was quickly characterized by the international media as a "condemnation" of terrorism. Expressions of condolence for Israel's suffering from around the world (though thankfully, not from Washington) were qualified by calls for Israel to not exacerbate the situation by hitting back.

And to complete this tragicomedy, media coverage of the days events were characterized by the same desperate attempt to cover such atrocities in an "evenhanded" manner so as to avoid too much sympathy for Israel.

The worst example of this was exhibited by none other than The Philadelphia Inquirer, which on the day following the attack balanced two photos related to the event: one of a grieving Israeli embracing a blood-stained victim, the other of the grieving mother of the suicide bomber. The unspoken message of these juxtaposed photos is clear: the big lie of moral equivalence in which both sides – killer and victims – are depicted as sufferers.

The disgust that such a dishonest journalistic decision should provoke in the Inquirer's readers ought to be matched by those who have listened to other opinion-makers who've been urging us to "trust" Hamas and the tentative cease-fire.

So, too, should we cry out against those who would use the Abbas statement as proof that "moderation" exists in Palestinian politics. The ties between Abbas and Fatah's own terror group – the Al Aksa Martyrs Brigade which also claimed responsibility for the Tel Aviv attack – give the lie to this notion.

The State of Israel will decide, in its own good time, the best response to this attack and all the others. Despite the talk of a lull, Israeli security forces have had no break in their necessary efforts to thwart a constant stream of would-be bombers trying to stake claims to so-called martyrdom.

But the duty of American friends of Israel at this moment is clear: We must continue to support a continued ban on all Western contacts with the Hamas government, and an end to all funding and support of its activities. We must also continue to push hard for holding Palestinian "humanitarian" groups and U.N.-funded activities in the territories accountable for their complicity in a culture of hatred, violence and sheer terror.

Most of all, we must make it clear to the government and the media that the placing of more Jewish sacrifices on the altar of Middle East moral equivalence is unacceptable – at any price.



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