Then and now

A few days after Baruch Goldstein— a resident of the West Bank settlement of Kiryat Arba– slaughtered 29 Palestinians praying at the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron, I joined tens of thousands of other Israelis at a demonstration in Tel Aviv.

It wasn’t so much a demonstration as a mass cry of outrage at the barbaric massacre– and an effort to tell Palestinians and the rest of the world that the overwhelming majority of Israelis shared their anger and disgust at what had just happened.

No one at the demonstration talked about the “root causes” of Goldstein’s rage at the Palestinians– although I’m sure they were there to be found. Nobody mentioned the all-too-frequent Palestinian attacks on Israelis. That an Israeli and a Jew had commited such a despicable act– no, that was not something we could accept silently or equivocally. Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin condemned Goldstein and his sympathizers in similarly unequivocal terms (pdf):

I am shamed over the disgrace imposed upon us by a degenerate murderer. You are not part of the community of Israel. You are not part of the democratic camp which we all belong to in this house, and many of the people despise you. You are not partners in the Zionist enterprise. You are a foreign implant. You are an errant weed. Sensible Judaism spits you out. You placed yourself outside the wall of Jewish law. You are a shame on Zionism and an embarrassment to Judaism.

I couldn’t help recalling this when I read that Inayat Bunglawala of the Muslim Council of Britain could not bring himself to condemn suicide murders of civilians whenever and wherever they occur.