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I Will Not Accept Unearned Guilt For a Crime I Did Not Commit

I did not murder this beautiful young woman, Shiri Banki (may her memory be a blessing)
I did not murder this beautiful young woman, Shiri Banki (may her memory be a blessing)

Apparently, due to the fact that my paternal grandparents were Holocaust survivors and my maternal grandparents fled the Farhud (Arab pogroms) of Iraq, and due to the fact that I have a Jewish education, I am responsible for every act of terror perpetrated by Jews, whether against Arabs, gays or any other minority in Israel.

How do I know this? Because Jewish columnists and bloggers make me feel as such. The horrible slate of murders that have plagued Israel — the heartbreaking murder of a 16-year-old gay activist by a sick ultra-Orthodox man (who should’ve been more closely monitored by police) and the tragic murder of an Arab baby in an arson attack by suspected Jewish terrorists (although no suspect as of yet has been named) — have prompted a flurry of embarrassed Jews who are quick to say: mea NOT culpa! – on both a personal and collective level.

The Times of Israel (TOI) has been especially filled with breast beatings, with editor David Horovitz writing: “But if it was Jewish terrorists who struck overnight — and the spraying of graffiti in Hebrew at the scene of the awful crime would appear to leave little room for doubt — then we Jewish Israelis most certainly need to be shocked.”

MK Yair Lapid, in the publication’s featured blogs, writes: “We are at war: He who burns a Palestinian baby declares war on the State of Israel. He who stabs young people at a Pride March declares war on the State of Israel.”

They don’t rush to disassociate themselves from other crimes, such as when Jewish mobsters kill a rival in a car bomb, or when some abusive Jewish husband shoots his wife, and not to mention when an Arab hacks a Jew to death. Should every single Jewish Israeli be as equally shocked by such murders? Should there be a “shock” police to monitor Jewish Israeli reactions to heinous, high-profile murders, to ensure a collective repentance in the eyes of the world?  Is any Jew who commits a hate crime “at war” with the State of Israel? If so, should they not also be tried for treason? In my view, any person who violates the Biblical moral absolute “thou shalt not murder” is at war with humanity and especially the victims, and it is humanity and the victims that the State must protect, not its own reputation.

I understand that since the recent murders are perceived to be religious or nationalistically motivated, and since they receive constant press attention, Jews feel an urge to prove that they are that acts of a fringe and do not represent the State of Israel or Jewry at large.

I take that for granted. We live in an overall good country with law enforcement and a system of courts that ideally prosecutes and punishes murderers no matter what the motivation – and the State of Israel would be at fault if it didn’t declare this “tacit” legal war against criminals and would-be criminals. While some Jews interpret the Torah in ways I find primitive, racist and chauvinist, the overwhelming majority do not make murder a religious policy. I find this to be self-evident.

A Jew need not be doubly punished for a crime because he also “murders” the prestige of the State of Israel and the image of Jews at large. He should be punished because he is a criminal, plain and simple – just as a non-Jew should be punished for a crime.

Some of my Facebook friends have argued with me that Jews must distance themselves from terror committed by Jews to inspire Muslims to do the same toward their terrorists, to show that we are “different.” I resent even the suggestion that acts of terror committed by Jews are analogous to Islamic terrorism. The scope, frequency, and ideology, plain for all to see – unless they just want to hate — cannot even compare. No need to defensively rattle off statistics, which just plays into the haters’ hands.

So I am not responsible for heinous crimes committed by my fellow Jews just because we are members of the same race or happen to grow up reading similar Biblical stories and statutes. They are not my brothers, and I’m not their keeper. I don’t feel a need to bombastically condemn those murders more than I condemn murder in general, unless I’m more personally involved with the victims. It should be taken for granted that I find such acts despicable – not because I’m a Jew but because I’m a human being – and expect the perpetrators to be tried and, when found guilty, punished.

About the author

Picture of Orit Arfa

Orit Arfa

Orit Arfa is a is a journalist and author based in Berlin. Visit her website: www.oritarfa.net.
Picture of Orit Arfa

Orit Arfa

Orit Arfa is a is a journalist and author based in Berlin. Visit her website: www.oritarfa.net.
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