When word came, like an advancing nightmare, that three Jewish teenagers had been abducted in the West Bank—a tortured, biblical landscape of stony hills and olive groves—we held little faith that they would ever see their parents again. Old men, so many of them wearing the garb of piety and the cloak of hate, have grown crazy in the Holy Land. They dispatch younger men to murder the future.
“There is no difference between blood and blood.”
Hope has little harvest in the sad slopes between Jerusalem and Hebron. We who carry the story of Israel in our hearts became certain that our children were already dead when Israel’s top-echelon intelligence agency released a cryptic statement implying the outcome. We have too often waited for the return of our young people, soldiers and civilians—only to witness body bags or temporary coffins.
And now the news that a Palestinian youth has allegedly suffered a brutish, burning, tortuous kidnapping and execution in Jerusalem—quite possibly an insane revenge killing pulled off by Jewish nationalists who continue to obviate any moral imperative in this incomprehensibly unrestrained and interminable exchange of futile savagery.
Like silly mannequins, the elected ministers of both Israel and the Palestinian Authority are now upbraiding each other about who made a more sincere expression of outrage and regret at the killing of teenagers by the respective sides of this scriptural sepulcher. As if that’s going to lessen the carnage during the next, already simmering exchange of rocket attacks, terrorist horrors, and air strikes that will be exchanged tit-for-tat by both sides and result in a heap of more dead bodies.
If there was a political situation for this 100 year-old conflagration in the Holy Land, it would have been concluded already. Even World War II, which took the lives of 59 million people, and essentially scorched this planet from 1937 (Japan-China) to 1945 (Allies-Axis), came to an end.
“The war,” which it is usually simply termed, was the ultimate carnage of racialism and land worship. It inexpressibly boiled the white and yellow races, the ferociously armed “Aryans” and the impossibly doomed Jews into a genocidal explosion of unspeakable mass murder, displacement, border erasures, and a new order that exists on paper but still sears memories and harbors ancestral resentments.
I make no apologies for my unyielding grief and anguish over the barbaric abduction and execution of three of my youthful kinsmen—even as I have little access to what their families are feeling. Nor do I admire the revelries and festive blessings offered by Islamic clergy in favor of their murderers. These kinds of cleric frauds are beyond my control and sensibilities. It’s hard—no, impossible—to rationalize the radical Muslim cultural fiat that Islam promises paradise to anyone who kills a Jew.
I don’t make my cue from terrorists like that but neither do I take stock in Jewish zealots who tragically miscalculate the value of any person’s life: each one is a child of God. Period.
Today I take my cue from the family of one of the Israeli boys. Yishai Fraenkel, the uncle of Naftali Frankel, was asked about his feelings when the report came in of the murdered Palestinian youth. His response was simple: “There is no difference between blood and blood.”
Why does the truth only come from those whose hearts have been devastated?