Hate Hurts, But Bullets Kill
by George Brewer
The Anti-Defamation League of B'nai Brith, an organization devoted to combating Anti-Semitism and bigotry, has started up a new campaign to promote tolerance among children. It's called the "Close the Book on Hate Campaign" and is keyed to the marketing of a new ADL sponsored book, entitled, Hate Hurts.
According to the promotional literature, the "innovative" new book "explores how to answer difficult questions" that children might ask, presumably about prejudice, and about how and why people are different. All in all this is a good idea. Children should not be taught to hate, or to draw snap judgments about other people.
We haven't received our copy yet but we can guess what kinds of things are in the book, based on the kinds of things that are on the ADL website. Judging by what we read there, the ADL is committed to making sure that kids aren't exposed to anything that might give them a tummy ache or maybe hurt their tender little feelings.
So, for example, we see that in the past few days the ADL has laid into the Nextel Corporation, a Filipino outfit that markets cellular equipment, for an ad campaign that touts the "Final Communication Solution" and which features Adolf Hitler jaw-jacking on his own cell phone.
Another recent ADL press release describes how the ADL succeeded in getting another apology from the people who brought you Pokemon, but, no, this apology had nothing to do with inflicting Pikachu, the yellow rat with an electrified tail, onto the American public.
No, this has to do with a prize competition being touted on cereal boxes, featuring a six-pointed star that for some reason came out on some of the boxes as "Jude Star" instead of the intended "Jade Star." Of course, this was a goof, and we would expect the cereal company to correct it, what we don't expect, and don't need, is to be informed that the ADL is on the supermarket cereal trenches ensuring that no child inadvertently consumes prejudice that stays crunchy in milk.
Of course, both of these recent press releases are indicative of the ADL's hyper-sensitivity and inability to deal with the fact that the three billion or so people who live in Asia do not really think much about the Holocaust or its sacred symbols, as was discussed in a Revisionist article earlier this year "Asians Just Don't Get It". But the ADL did at least make a tiny concession in the latest Pokemon release about how the swastika is a sacred symbol to "some" Asians.
In addition to the latest press releases that are geared to protecting kids, in recent years the ADL has also extracted apologies from Superman Comics, for a story line about the Holocaust that was "insensitive" because it didn't specify that any of the victims were Jews, and a TV show for its portrayal of a lovable Yiddish zeyde (grandfather.) We can imagine that Hate Hurts, with or without an exclamation point, will cover similar ground.
Yet, after receiving some recent correspondence, we wonder if one of the "difficult questions" being "explored" in Hate Hurts might be one like this: "What happens when a 12 year old kid is shot while cowering behind his father in Israeli occupied territory?" For some reason, we don't think that question is going to be addressed, and if it were, the answer, based on what we have seen, would be "Nothing."
It seems that a few days ago a 37 year old Palestinian living in the occupied Gaza Strip went out with his 12 year old son to look at a used car. They found themselves in the middle of a street battle between Palestinian demonstrators and Israeli soldiers. They tried to hide behind a small cinder block abutment to a building, and that's when they were caught by the French cameramen.
You can see the father start waving, in a panic, for the soldiers not to shoot. And you can see the boy, clearly terrified, trying to hide behind his slender father's frame. And then there's a fusillade of bullets and the boy is dead, with the father severely injured.
You can tell it's a big story because immediately there were denials from the Israeli Defense Forces, claiming that they hadn't fired the shots. Of course, the alternative, that some Palestinians shot the two for propaganda purposes, is kind of hard to believe, but furthermore most of the eyewitnesses, including the father, insist that the killers were Israeli soldiers, and from the camera shot it appears that it occurred at close range.
We guess the Israeli authorities felt they had a credibility problem, because a day later Israel's deputy chief of staff, Moshe Yaalon, announced that the Israelis were convinced that the boy intended to throw rocks. Well, I guess that settles that. Read people's minds, and then blow their heads off.
Now, we would expect something to be done about this. Sometimes a photograph can really have an impact. We all remember how the American people turned against the Vietnam war, we forget the critical photos that turned the tide of public opinion: the naked girl running in terror from a napalm raid, the South Vietnamese general casually shooting a blindfolded hostage.
So we would expect this photo of this little boy being shot in cold blood to change some minds, or at least to create enough pressure to generate some decency. Maybe a court martial or two, at the very least. Unfortunately, it appears the flagrant shooting of this boy is being forgotten. Naturally, thinking about how hate hurts our kids, and thinking about how the ADL is always on the front line in protecting them, we turned to their website to see how they would handle this affair.
Mind you, we don't believe that every Jew or even any American Jew is responsible for the reckless shootings by the Israeli Defense Forces. But on the other hand, if an organization sells itself as defending Jewish interests, constantly delivers sermons about Jewish and Israeli interests, and furthermore is always carrying on about protecting children, we have a certain expectation that they will have something to say about this case, too.
Imagine our surprise when we found that the ADL's only pronouncement on the recent violence, which has taken the lives of 46 Arabs and two Jews, is that the current violence was "clearly incited and stoked by the Palestinian leadership" and that Arafat should do something to stop it. That's all.
Nothing about our 12 year old kid at all. Nothing about a measure of individual justice for an inexcusable individual killing of a child, nothing about an apology, or a desire to make amends, or pay compensation, or punishing the boy's killers. Nothing.
Moral leadership is a difficult thing. But if you can't stand up on your hindlegs and condemn the brutal and careless killing of a child, you don't deserve to be listened to. The ADL's silence in the case of the shooting of a 12 year old Palestinian boy on TV reminds us of the extent to which the ADL is willing to close the book on its own moral authority by its timidity, and it further reminds us of the extent to which the "Close the Book on Hate" campaign is a stupid joke.
Zealously monitoring comic books, trading cards, TV shows, and cereals boxes: that's the caliber of ADL moral leadership. But when it comes to dead kids, the ADL is, to quote a title, Eyeless in Gaza.
Hate Hurts? Yeah, sure. But Bullets Kill.
Installed: 07/27/98, 1: 00 AM, PST