Jews must be special. Israelis must be really special. They alone are being criticized, by friend and foe alike, for defending themselves against Islamist terrorism.
The world knows that Hamas has spent years and a fortune building terror tunnels to murder Israelis. And yet, too many people are crying out against Israeli military action… because people are getting hurt.
Muslims the world over are rising up to defend the honor of their culture. It’s not merely that the humiliation is unbearable—a billion Muslims being made to look backward by a small Jewish nation—but that too many Muslims do not know how to deal with shame.
A culture that prescribes the death penalty for a teenage girl who is caught holding hands with her boyfriend has no sense of decency or dignity. If it believes that the act restores honor they have no sense of honor.
To solve the problem the world should make clear that these actions are unacceptable, a disgrace. Only further humiliation will teach the right lesson.
The best way to restore honor is to act honorably and decently. And that begins with protecting and providing for your children… not killing them.
David Gutmann, writing about this subject in Front Page Magazine gets it wrong too. He says that Arab cultures are suffering because they have a culture of honor/shame.
Let’s stipulate that a shame culture, about which I have written much, is characterized by the practice of good manners, ethical behavior, mutual respect and dignity. A shame culture is designed to allow people to deal with shame and humiliation without becoming extremely violent. It is characterized by the willingness to accept responsibility for one’s errors and to correct them.
When Adam and Eve discovered shame they discovered that they had done wrong in the Garden of Eden. They did not blame someone else for their own failing.
Which I why I thought it a good sign that the King of Saudi Arabia denounced Hamas for damaging the image of Islam in the world.
The most important shame culture in the Middle East is Israel, not Gaza. Which culture shows the most respect for its citizens and the citizens of other countries and other religions?
The alternative to a shame culture is a guilt culture. While a shame culture ostracizes, a guilt culture murders and mutilates. Which best describes the efforts of Hamas to murder Jews and to allow its own citizens to be killed in order to gain some good PR?
If the only source of your pride is killing Jews you have no pride and no honor. If you spend all of your resources building tunnels to invade Israel and kill Jews, to the detriment of your children, your pride is false pride and your honor is false honor.
This morning Bret Stephens compared the reporting on the Israeli incursion into Gaza—whose purpose is purely self-defense—with the reports on the Pakistani military’s offensive against terrorist groups in its tribal regions.
Here Stephens summarizes the content of a Washington Post report on the fighting in Pakistan:
Underground tunnels, explosives factories, weeks of airstrikes, artillery bombardment, mass displacement of civilians—leaving aside the probability that this is the first that you've heard of any of this, does it ring a familiar bell? If so, maybe the Council on American-Islamic Relations and the various self-described antiwar groups that marched near the White House on Saturday to protest Israel's military campaign in Gaza can organize another big rally outside the Pakistani embassy. No more U.S. aid to Islamabad! Boycott Pakistani products! Divest from Pakistani companies!
It’s not just CAIR, of course. How many American Jews have been whining about the terrible things that the Israeli military is doing? How many of them have been trying to prevent the IDF from completing its mission on the grounds that it was making Israel look bad in the eyes of world public opinion? How many of them noticed that they themselves are feeding the Islamist propaganda machine, making Hamas look good by making Israel look bad?
The Western intelligentsia, Jewish and otherwise, is really trying to cover the shame of Hamas. Above all else, it fears the wrath of Muslims because it knows, if only intuitively that in a culture of false pride and false honor the only way to look good is to make your opponent look bad. These intellectuals believe that they occupy the moral high ground… even if that entails helping to improve the image of a fanatical group that abhors everything it believes in. They don't know that occupying the moral high ground makes you a target.
Last week the media was aflame with attacks on Israel. It was filled with images of suffering Palestinians. It had nothing to say about the Muslim-on-Muslim violence that is engulfing other parts of the world.
Stephens sums it up:
In Iraq, some 1,600 people were killed in the month of July. "I am concerned about the rising number of casualties in Iraq, particularly among the civilian population," U.N. envoy Nickolay Mladenov told the AFP. "Children and women are most vulnerable."
Note the verb. Not outraged or appalled, merely concerned.
In Syria, more than 1,800 people have been killed in just the last 10 days. On Monday, the London-based Syrian Network for Human Rights reported the deaths of "at least 130 people, including seven children and 10 women," at the hands of forces loyal to Bashar Assad.
As for the State Department, its only Syria-related press release from Monday was an announcement that it was funding a project to "document the current condition of cultural heritage sites in Syria and assess the future restoration, preservation, and protection needs for those sites."
In Libya, roughly 200 people were killed last month in artillery and rocket clashes between rival militias. Another 22 were killed over the weekend as Islamist groups attacked Tripoli's airport.
A joint statement by the governments of France, Italy, Germany, the U.K. and the U.S. noted only that "we strongly condemn the ongoing violence across the country . . . which jeopardizes the continuation of a peaceful transition and severely affects the life of the Libyan people."
In Nigeria, Boko Haram has turned its fury on Muslims who try to fight back against the jihadist group. Nearly 3,000 people have been killed so far this year, and another 500,000 have been made refugees. A spokesperson for the U.N.'s Mr. Ban issued a statement in his name, condemning Boko's attacks.
All this is happening and no one much cares. Muslims killing Muslims… no problem.
The intellectuals who are attacking Israel or are pleading with Israelis to make nice to Hamas, to negotiate in good faith are simply afraid. They are afraid that Muslim rage, a rage that knows no honor or decency, will soon come home. They believe that the best way to prevent it is to appease Hamas. They have not understood that by undermining Israel they are undermining the values that they hold dear.