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                                                                                     Parshat Re’eh- August 2/3 – 27 Av 5773

This week’s essay is dedicated in memory of R Moshe Aharon ben Chaim Zev by Sarah and Steven Jacoby and family

  Arab Blood is Cheap

 I see the bad moon arisin’
I see trouble on the way…

I see bad times today…
I hear the voice of rage and ruin

Don’t go around tonight
Well, it’s bound to take your life
There’s a bad moon on the rise

-Creedence Clearwater Revival


Arab blood is cheap. I am not saying this as some personal opinion or racist rant but as a simple fact based upon recent events and the world’s reaction to them.

We have been reading of the turmoil in Egypt lately, the latest Arab country to experience much uncertainty. Last weekend the army set upon pro Morsi protesters and shot them with live ammunition, killing 72 and injuring scores more. A doctor interviewed at the site said the wounds were “shoot to kill” shots directed at the head, neck and upper body. Live ammunition was used, often by snipers and not rubber bullets, water hoses or other means of crowd control.

Now I want you to stop and close your eyes and imagine for a moment if the headlines were a bit different. Instead of “Egyptian Army kills 72 Egyptian protesters” we read, “Israeli soldiers fire upon and kill 72 Palestinians protesters with live ammunition.”

If you have trouble imagining the reaction – and I am sure you don’t – let me remind you of the huge wave of harsh criticism Israel was subjected to a mere few years ago when it killed eight Turks as they tried to break the blockade of Gaza. From Wikipedia, which has a very lengthy article about the event:

The raid drew widespread condemnation internationally and resulted in a deterioration of Israel-Turkey relations. In September 2011, a United Nations report, after analysis of both Turkey and Israeli national investigations, concluded that the Israeli blockade was legal, but that Israel army used excessive force in this incident by firing stun and smoke grenades from the Israeli army’s speed boats and helicopters before boarding into (the) flotilla and conducted live fire rounds from the helicopters before or after boarding, though the flotilla was still in international waters.

Was there widespread condemnation from the UN and others directed at the Egyptian army for carrying out this massacre? Oh, to be sure there was the requisite UN hand-wringing statements and even the United States is in a bit of a quandary as to how to react given the quiet glee it must feel that the Muslim Brotherhood is out, but the fact remains that they were democratically elected and forced out of power in very undemocratic means. Will there be United Nation investigations which will drone on for years against Egypt the way it does against Israel? Will there be campus protests and calls for boycotting products made in Egypt now that the new government ordered these killings? Will the Arab and European voices rise to a crescendo against Egypt the way they do against Israel?

No, no and no. Why? Because when all is said and done, no one really cares about the spilling of Arab blood, do they? It is only a factor when Israelis or Americans are the ones who are responsible for it. Don’t believe me? Here is a CBC article from Thursday July 31st with more:

A series of attacks including bombings of both Shia and Sunni mosques left 18 dead in Iraq, the latest in a surge of bloodshed. Most attacks on Shias are presumed to be carried out by the country’s branch of al-Qaeda, which on Tuesday claimed credit for a wave of bombings across the country the day before that killed at least 58 people. Attacks on Sunni civilians are rarer but have also been a feature of the surge of bloodletting that has left 3,000 dead since April.

3,000 dead Iraqis, 100,000 dead Syrians, a bunch of executed Egyptians and eight Turks killed by Israelis…which should get the most and which should get the least attention?

When it comes to so-called injustices against the Palestinians and their supporters, the world loves to wrap themselves in a self-righteous mantle and feign grief. But when other Arabs die in far greater numbers, the world could care less. And so basically the world, even the Arab world, declares very loud and clear: Arab blood is cheap and has no intrinsic meaning of its own; its value is completely and solely tied to whomever is spilling it.
So sad. One day the world will learn what we have been trying to teach it along. That everyone is created in the image of God and has intrinsic worth irrespective of the whims and prejudices of the media or the UN. And just because you didn’t have the “good fortune” to die by an Israeli bullet shouldn’t mean that you should be forgotten. In fact, once the world indeed values life the way it ought to, Israel will quickly fade from the news as real atrocities take their proper place in the minds of hearts of those who claim to care.


Rabbi Tzvi Nightingale
Aish South Florida


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