The destruction of the Jewish synagogues by Palestinians following the Israeli pullout from the Gaza Strip is tragic a blot on the Palestinian people, but typical of the problems that stand in the way of statehood.
Israel abandoned more than 19 settlements and withdrew its soldiers, ending its 38 year long occupation of the Gaza Strip this past week.
Palestinians destroy Netzarim synagogue (Photo: AP)
But rather than focus on the next step, Palestinians and Israelis have spent recent days debating an issue that has haunted both sides since the first war in 1947-48 that divided Palestine.
Should the withdrawing Israelis destroy the homes and farms they created after occupying the land, or should they just leave them? And, more importantly, what should be done with the synagogues established in each of the settlements?
Viciousness on all sides
It seems there is a viciousness on both sides. The settlers are Israel’s more extremist and violent segment of society and they viciously argued that what they owned should not remain for fear that Palestinians might live in them.
Palestinian extremists vowed to destroy everything that symbolized Israel’s oppressive rule in Gaza, including the synagogues. Israel ended up destroying all the beautiful homes, the green houses and the farms, but refused to destroy the synagogues, arguing that it would be wrong for a Jew to destroy a house of worship.
Sadly, after the Israeli departed completely from Gaza, many if not all of the synagogues were destroyed by rampaging Palestinian mobs incited by the growing influence of the Islamic clerics and the Muslim terrorist organization, Hamas.
I say that is a shame on the Palestinians. I am personally ashamed and every Palestinian should be ashamed, too.
Palestinians have had nothing but suffering at Israel’s hands. As citizens of Israel, they are denied basic equal rights. Arabs who have Israeli citizenship have a special code on their identification documents to easily identify them as non-Jews in Israel, something abhorrent to most civilized nations.
As refugees, they have been rejected by Israelis who have not only denied that the refugees have any rights at all, but also denied that the Palestinians even exist as a people.
And since 1967, Palestinians have lived under a brutal occupation highlighted by an Israeli policy to confiscate Palestinian owned lands and convert them illegally into settlements in order to strengthen their grip on the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
Stones and glass houses
Yet despite all of these reasons, and despite the conflict itself, Palestinians have an obligation to remain true to the principles of justice and morality.
More importantly, they have an obligation to remain true to themselves, an obligation they have violated.
Palestinians cannot decry the alleged crimes of Israel unless they live by a higher standard.
In other words, you cannot throw stones from a glass house.
How can Palestinians denounce actions by Israel as atrocities when Palestinians themselves are guilty of atrocities, too?
Killers as 'martyrs'
Already Palestinians have forsaken that fundamental moral code in dealing with the issue of suicide bombing. Regardless of the pain and suffering inflicted by Israel upon Palestinians, suicide bombings remain an immoral, unjustified heinous act of murder.
Suicide bombings should be denounced without hesitation. Instead, many Palestinians cheer the suicide murderers on as “martyrs,” a distortion of the term both from a political and a religious standpoint, or they sit back and excuse the suicide bombings, probably the most cowardly stance of all by Palestinians.
Only a few voices denounce suicide bombings for what they are.The destruction of the Jewish synagogues adds more Palestinian sin to the tragedy.
No difference between Jews, Zionism
Palestinians have argued from the beginning that they are not against Jews, but against Zionism.
Yet, when the opportunity came to distinguish between Jews and Zionism, Palestinians chose to treat them both the same.
Palestinians in Gaza enraged by the 38 years of Israel’s oppressive occupation there rampaged and burned down many if not all of the synagogues.
It is a disgusting thought. It has put lie to the Palestinian claim that they do not hate Jews. It is an outright act of anti-Semitism and Palestinian leaders should have done more to protect those synagogues which were less symbols of the settler fanatics, but rather symbols of a religion that is a sibling to Islam and Arab Christianity.
No different than their oppressors
Those Palestinians who reject this, arguing that the Israelis have committed worse crimes, may or may not be right. More than 400 Palestinian villages including mosques and churches were destroyed by Israel after 1948.
But by destroying the Gaza Strip synagogues, they have become be no different than the oppressors they denounce.