Rule of Pain

Jewish Light Editorial

“Hamas, the militant group that rules Gaza, issued a statement praising the bus bombing but did not take responsibility for it. Some mosques in Gaza also welcomed the attack with messages of praise broadcast from loudspeakers.

“A spokesman for Hamas in Qatar, Husam Badran, said ‘This attack affirms to everyone one that our people will not abandon the resistance path.’ ”

See the above quotes, reported by the Associated Press on the heels of this week’s grotesque bus bombing in Jerusalem? That’s what Israelis are dealing with in Hamas — a culture of ostensible Palestinian leadership that revels in bloodshed and wholly rejects the norms of a civilized society.

Say what you will, have your opinions about the Israeli government, call it perfect, flawed or otherwise, but the leaders of the Knesset oversee a society that embraces the Rule of Law. 

That principle, embodied in America as well, means that laws govern the nation, not arbitrary actions, not anarchical decisions, not terror.

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It means that the society holds people accountable for bad acts. As when Israel has prosecuted not only Arabs and Palestinians, but Jews as well, for actions that fail to conform to the rules of coexistence set forth for the people.

It means that if someone chooses to respond to perceived social injustice by planting a bomb, knifing a pedestrian, shooting an Israeli citizen, that someone will be hunted down, arrested and prosecuted. Unless, of course, they are caught in the act, in which case there are rules for how the law enforcement officers must act, and they, too, are subject to prosecution for failure to conform.

And it means that if someone is arrested alive, that someone will be afforded due process, replete with legal representation, when charged by the prosecution.

It means that a court will hear evidence and that the facts and circumstances will be considered, and a verdict issued. And a sentence will be laid upon the guilty party based on the guidelines allowed under the law.

Those who shout “resistance” to justify the abhorrent acts this week are utterly wrongheaded. They act as though the flaws in a society entitle them to opt out of the construct of law.

And then on top of that, as the quote illustrates, they rejoice in the actions that in this instance, contributed to injuries to almost two dozen, some of them critically.

That’s not resistance, and its certainly not morally justified; it’s just plain sick.

We’re not saying all this to offer some sort of banal civics lesson. Rather, it’s to point out that the approach taken by Palestinian terrorists — any terrorists — is both irrational and counterproductive. And they then are egged on by “leaders” like Hamas, who instead of promoting constructive peaceful civil disobedience, are intentionally flaming the frenzy.

We’ll grant the premise that there are problems in Israeli society, problems that the government could do better solving. The same is true of American society and political leaders 

But so what? Is there some reasonable belief that more terror, more abdication from civilized rules, will make the situation better? How does that reduce the plight of Palestinians? Is there some belief that more random killing will somehow make organized Israeli society give up? 

That is both intellectually and pragmatically preposterous; it won’t and it can’t. To offer up social problems like inequity and injustice as an excuse for murdering civilians is basically saying that you’d rather live in a society with no laws. How is that helpful?

The only path for meaningful progress is by negotiated compromise to achieve peace. All sides should be able to articulate their views in furtherance of that result through free speech and nonviolent protest, as is enabled in large measure under Israeli law.

If circumstances aren’t ready for peace to happen — no matter who you choose to blame for the situation — well, rest assured that acts of premeditated violence, accompanied by PR campaigns extolling that violence, aren’t in any way likely to cause anyone to roll over and concede. 

Quite the contrary — they push the sides farther away from each other. Which Hamas knows will continue to keep themselves in power, building terror tunnels instead of housing and commerce, and rallying Gazans and all Palestinians to martyrdom rather than peace.

It’s a dark and angry view of the world, and one that offers neither Palestinians nor Israelis constructive prospects. No matter how much Hamas and their ilk want to blame the other side, the events of this week show that absent change in their ranks, they will never be constructive agents for peace.