The news broke about 12 hours ago that the body of an Arab teenager, Mohammed Abu Khdeir, was found in the Jerusalem Forest, while earlier in the day far-right extremist Israelis held a rally in Jerusalem chanting "Death to the Arabs." While nothing has been proven, it's hard to escape the fear that the reported kidnapping in Beit Hanina last night has led to the deliberate death of an Arab child at Jewish hands. The anger of many Israelis over the murders of Eyal Yifrach, Gilad Shaar and Naftali Frenkel is still a raw wound, just like the ground in which the boys have been laid to rest, side by side. And the anger is appropriately directed not just at those who killed the boys, and not just at the Hamas leadership that has relentlessly encouraged kidnap and murder of Jews, but also at those who cheered this act with the obscenities of cartoons and 3 fingered salutes posted on social media, and who handed out candy in celebration.
But this anger cannot translate into "an eye for an eye". It cannot-- wantonly and deliberately, with malice aforethought-- take the life of a Palestinian child who had nothing to do with the murder of our children. It cannot allow us to sink to the depravity of Hamas.
I'm not very learned in our texts; I wish I did know them well enough to cite the appropriate authorities here. But I do know that we must not take revenge for the deliberate, targeted attack on our children by a deliberate, targeted attack on theirs. I will not shed a single tear should I hear of the death of those who perpetrated the atrocity of killing Eyal, Gilad and Naftali-- or for any Hamas member involved in attacks on Israelis. I support the IDF acting against those firing rockets at civilians in southern Israel-- and if the rockets continue to be fired, then the IDF response is disproportionate only in the sense of being not as vigorous as it should be. But if the murder of this child indeed was the work of Jewish extremists, then this act-- and the sentiments that led to it, just as they led to the murders committed by Baruch Goldstein in 1994 -- must be denounced,
And, if so, it will without doubt be denounced. Not only the government of Israel, but Jewish community leaders the world over will condemn it. That's the difference between those on our side, and those on the other. We've seen outright cheerleading of the murder of our boys, and we've also seen the craven refusal to condemn it because they were standing on the wrong side of a line on a map-- a line behind which those who hate Israel don't even grant Jews the right to safety anyway!
It requires more than just denunciation, though. It requires that those responsible be brought to justice. It requires the end of tolerance for "price tag" attacks, which create a new normal of lawless racist behavior. It requires that the leaders of these extremists be held accountable for the consequences of their incitement, just as we hold the leaders of Hamas personally responsible for what happened on the road in Gush Etzion nearly 3 weeks ago.
We have to be better than this. Not just to avoid giving peddlers of hate and misinformation such as Ali Abunimah and Max Blumenthal more opportunity to slander Israel and the Jewish people-- though that's important. Not just to try to keep events from spiraling into open warfare in the streets-- though that's critically important. But because if we descend into the same depths of bloodlust and hatred as our enemies, then what have we become?