This past Tuesday, on Yom Hazikaron—the day the Jewish state commemorates those who have lost their lives in its defense—two organizations composed of both Palestinians and Israelis held a “joint event” intended to mark the deaths of members of both peoples. These groups have been holding such ceremonies annually since 2006, but this year, they claim, 170,000 people logged into Facebook to watch, compared to last year’s 20,000. As Jonathan Tobin points out, Tuesday’s proceedings garnered much media attention, and, unlike in previous years, “received an outpouring of support from American Jewish groups, including the Reform movement’s Union of Reform Judaism, J Street, the New Israel Fund, [and] Peace Now, as well as the openly anti-Zionist IfNotNow and Churches for Middle East Peace.” Tobin writes:
By asserting that there is no difference between efforts to defend Israel and efforts to eradicate it, the organizers are . . . encouraging those who want to continue the conflict, rather than those who want to end it.
The most prominently featured Palestinian speaker was Yaquab al-Rabi, whose wife, Aisha, was killed as a result of his car being stoned by an Israeli teenager. The Rabi family suffered a terrible tragedy, and the perpetrator deserved to be severely punished. But the irony of highlighting a Palestinian victim of a stoning was lost in most press accounts of the ceremony: . . . examples of Israelis attacking Arabs in this manner are rare. By contrast, Arab stoning attacks on Israelis cars—with often similarly terrible results—are commonplace.
The “both sides are to blame” narrative also ignores the way that the two societies regard those who commit acts of terrorism. The teenager held responsible for Aisha al-Rabi’s death was prosecuted. . . . By contrast, the Palestinian Authority continues to honor terrorists. Just last week, its leader, Mahmoud Abbas, and his Fatah movement honored the perpetrators of the Munich Olympic massacre on the anniversaries of their deaths.
We should mourn all victims of senseless violence, be they Jews, Arabs, or any other people. But we should be wary of efforts to establish a false analogy between those who died to save Jewish lives and those whose purpose was to spill Jewish blood.