The shocking murder of the three missing Israeli teens is a crime of unparalleled cruelty. In that they were killed for no other reason than being Jewish, it has holocaust dimensions to it.
This was not about war, not about occupation, not about humiliation at checkpoints– but rather Palestinian murders of breathtaking brutality carried out simply because these harmless three boys wore kippot, tzitzit, and were identifiably Jewish. This is perfectly in line with Hamas, who has already acknowledged that the suspected murderers are members, whose charter calls for the indiscriminate slaughter of Jews wherever they may be found.
If the targeting of innocent civilians by terrorist organizations is not wrong, then morality has no meaning. If the world will not be shocked to its core by these cold-blooded killings, than nothing can shock it. And if Muslim clerics do not rise up to condemn the murderers among them then a great world religion will be sullied, tarnished, and made morally irrelevant.
I have long preached how we Jews owe a debt of gratitude to Islam for welcoming us in after repeated Christian expulsions, especially from Spain in 1492 and Portugal in 1498. Islam, as a religion of more than a billion people, is stained and blemished by those who murder in its name. How much more so when those killed are three young boys who were studying in a religious academy.
The world’s Rabbis all joined to condemn Baruch Goldstein’s loathsome murder of innocent Arabs at prayer in February, 1994. I was on British TV calling it abomination. Now that 3 innocent young Jews were found right outside Hebron, their bodies mutilated, will our Muslim brothers rise to the occasion and purge the terrorists from among them?
The moral equivalency between Hamas members targeting teenagers for murder with Israel striking Hamas in Gaza to stop rocket fire on schools is itself morally repugnant. The Ten Commandments say, “Thou shalt not murder,” rather than “Thou shalt not kill.” Murder is the taking of innocent lives in cold blood. Killing is protecting the innocent from murderers as an act of self-defense. There, in a nutshell, is the difference between the bloodthirsty criminals of Hamas and Israel.
We are all equally children of the one God, and Imams must rise up to condemn these murders even more than Rabbis.
Hamas’ values are an utter disgrace to the principles of Islam. Hamas is motivated not by Palestinian freedom but by hatred of Jews. Although Israel unilaterally withdrew from Gaza in 2005, Hamas’ charter continues to call for genocide against Israel and the Jewish people, which is what led directly to the murder of these innocent boys: “The Day of Judgment will not come until Muslims fight the Jews, when the Jew will hide behind stones and trees. The stones and trees will say, O Muslims… there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him.”
How could President Obama and John Kerry accept a unity government that has Hamas as a co-member? Does the US not believe that their reprehensible policy of legitimizing murderers will not lead to their being emboldened and commit further acts of carnage? Would the US ever accept an Arab government anywhere in the Middle East that has Al Qaeda as a partner? Would the memory of 3,000 innocent Americans at 9/11 allow it? Would the memory of thousands of dead American soldiers in Iraq allow it? Would the hallowed remains of thousands more in Afghanistan allow it?
In the murder of these three innocent teens, we see the immediate danger of allowing the West Bank to be controlled by Hamas, which is what would happen should Israel withdraw. Hamas came to power in 2006 in Gaza; they channeled the billions they received as the world’s largest per capita recipients of international foreign aid into rockets rather than hospitals, bombs rather than universities. And they intentionally launch their rockets from nurseries and schools rendering the innocent Palestinian population human shields, not surprising for an organization which regularly murders Palestinian homosexuals under the false accusation of collaboration and engages in honor killings of young Palestinian women whose only crime is to have a boyfriend. And they send killers, like these from Hebron, to pray on the naiveté of innocent teens to get them into cars, thinking they’ll go home, only to be brutally murdered in caves.
The civilized world, and not just Israel, must dismantle the Hamas terrorist infrastructure. Hamas has coiled itself around Gaza like a poisonous viper and, as we see from the loss of these three teens, controls innumerable terrorists in the West Bank.
While the brotherhood of man may continue to elude us in an increasingly violent world, an agreement between clerics of all religions to condemn murder is something upon which we must insist. I call upon my Muslim brothers to join me us condemning – in the harshest possible words – the brutal and vile murder of three innocent boys whose parents will now mourn for the duration of their days.
May God be their comfort.
Rabbi Shmuley Boteach is founder of This World: The Values Network, the foremost organization influencing politics, media, and the culture with Jewish values. He has just published Kosher Lust: Love is Not the Answer. Follow him on Twitter @RabbiShmuley.