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Jewish World Review May 13, 2002 /2 Sivan, 5762

Nat Hentoff

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Moral equivalency's end | With Yasser Arafat free to leave his compound, the April 28 murder of 5-year-old Danielle Shefi in a bedroom in the West Bank settlement of Adora will soon be forgotten, if it hasn't already, by the world's media. Israelis will remember, and so will the small but growing number of Palestinians concerned with the chilling reverberations for their war for independence.

On that day, Palestinian gunmen, dressed as Israeli soldiers, cut through the fence at Adora, a community of 50 Jewish families, and began shooting through the windows of the houses. In one upstairs bedroom, Shiri Shefi was trying to protect Danielle and her two small sons when gunmen broke into their home, rushed upstairs, and opened fire. Her husband, Yaakov Shefi, was at temple, praying at the time.

When he saw the body of his daughter, Mr. Shefi, crying said, "Anyone capable of looking at a 4-year-old boy and a 5-year-old girl in the face and then shooting them is not human.

At another home, gunmen stood over a bed and shot an old woman. Zvi Baruchi, head of the association of 15 settlements in the area, told Newsday: "They shoot at people in their beds and at children. People who shoot children in their bed are not people you talk to."

In the New York Observer's April 29 edition, Ron Rosenbaum cited an interview in the "semi-official newspaper of the Egyptian government, Al-Ahrom Weekly," with the widely admired Oxford University professor and poet, Tom Paulin: "He called for American Jews, specifically 'Brooklyn-born Jews,' to be 'shot' if they were found in the West Bank.

"'I think they are Nazi racists,' Paulin said forcefully. 'I feel nothing but hatred for them.'" This British academic will not have to dirty his hands with the killings. He can enjoy long-distance gratification.

A commentator on the assassinations in Adora was Yasser Abed Rabbo, the information minister in Arafat's government. "Everybody must know," Rabbo told Newsday, "that the war crimes committed by Sharon will lead to the kinds of actions that occurred today, and he is the only one who will bear responsibility for what happened."

Therefore, according to the information minister, the actual murderers of Danielle and the other Jews in Adora bear no responsibility at all. They are freedom fighters.

Two of the others killed in Adora were Natan Greenberg, 14, and his mother, Katya, killed in her bed upstairs. In The New York Times, James Bennet reported that outside their home, "a 36-year-old neighbor of the Greenbergs, who declined to give his name, bridled when asked if the Greenbergs were originally Russians. 'Originally Jews,' he said."

It didn't matter to the gunmen whether they were from Russia or Brooklyn.

In the April 28 edition of the New York Post, Frimet Roth, a New Yorker who moved to Israel with her family in 1988, wrote of the killing of her 15-year-old daughter, Malki, by a suicide bomber. She was "standing next to a Palestinian with an explosive-laden guitar case. My Malki played several instruments and often went around with her guitar over her shoulder, too."

Frimet Roth makes a point that I wish all the interviewers on cable news television would ask those of their guests who speak for Yasser Arafat to answer: "None of the 465 Israeli families bereaved during this war has ever contemplated terror as an option. Not one 'desperate' Jewish suicide bomber has materialized. The reason is that the moral turf cannot be equalized. We Israelis do not want to see innocent Palestinians murdered, while they've demonstrated time and gain their yearning to see Israelis killed."

Not all Palestinians share this murderous yearning by the suicide bombers and those who recruit and train them. After one 14-year-old Palestinian sent on a suicide mission, turned around halfway and went home, his mother spoke on Israel television's Channel 2:

"They take our children when they are too young to understand, to decide if they want to die." She then, according to World Net Daily, told the interviewer that "The Gaza Strip is full of women keeping a tight hold of their young sons. 'All of us here are badly traumatized. But, there is not a single psychologist in the whole territory to help us.'"

They need Yasser Arafat to retire and be replaced by new leadership, no less determined to achieve an independent state, but also unable to send killers to look into the face of a 5-year-old girl and disintegrate her. Twenty-four-year-old Isan Jawabreh, a member of Arafat's Al Aksa Martyrs Brigade, was killed in Bethlehem during a firefight. He was hailed as a hero in his village, but his father said: "I wish for the killing to stop on both sides."

To George W. Bush: there will be no durable peace, so long as Arafat is in power.

JWR contributor Nat Hentoff is a First Amendment authority and author of numerous books. Send your comments to him by clicking here.

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