Yossie Understands Why

He stopped, and began to cry. "I am frustrated by all these questions, Abba."

Isaac Kohn,

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"Yes, Yossie?"

"Can you explain some things I don't quite understand?"

"OK. Let's sit here on the couch and I'll see what I can do."

Sitting down, the father looked at his son. "OK Yossie, go ahead."

"Well, Abba. Our current events teacher begins every class with the latest news, mostly world news. Since this Oslo War began and then the war in Iraq, our class is very interesting. We discuss the terror and war here in Israel and we try to compare and relate it to the war over there in Iraq."

"That's wonderful. You must really know what's going on in the world at large."

"Yes, I do. And that is where my confusion comes from."

"Such as?"

"Well? let me be specific."

"Remember our neighbors who were killed on the bus last year? The world refers to their murderers, the terrorists as 'militants' or as 'freedom fighters.' In fact, even the American Secretary of State, Powell, said that 'one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter.' In other words, there is an aura of legitimacy the world bestows on those that are killing and murdering us. Yet, in the war in Iraq, the media has found the correct description of such sub-humans. In every report from that region, these murderers are referred to as 'terrorists' or' hoods' or 'thugs'.

"And... and..." Yossie stammered, his eyes misting with tears.

"Go on, son, go on," the father said soothingly.

"And... the horrible murder of the entire Hatuel family. The Nazi-like execution of little children and their pregnant mother is accepted as just another rainy day. The media is silent. The world doesn?t even sigh at the sight of such brutality. I just don?t understand."

The father nodded. "Do you want a response now?"

"No, not now. I have other difficulties in comprehending and sifting through the various words, descriptions and American responses to the on-going terror and murder."

"OK. Go on."

"The teacher read a news item from Fallujah, where the fighting is quite fierce. The news report related that forty-five 'thugs' were holed up in the minaret of a local mosque. They were firing from the mosque at the surrounding American forces. The place, the American Commander was told, is a holy-site to the Moslems and shooting at it is blasphemy and disrespectful to Islam. The populace warned him of 'violent reactions' if he were to send his troops against those holed up in there. But it seems that the commander does not understand Arabic."

"He doesn't?" the father chuckled.

"No. He simply ordered the tanks to blast the mosque to smithereens and sent those forty-five killers to the grave they deserve. When asked how he can do that to the 'holy' place, he responded: 'When terrorists are holed up in there, that 'holiness' doesn't exist. Hence the immediate, uncompromising attack and obliteration. Those inside the minaret will never attack again.' That was an answer as it should be. After all, the lives of his troops were in the balance and his immediate decision was to insure their safety by eliminating those holed up in the minaret.

"But when those killers were holed up in the Church of Nativity in Bethlehem, the whole world was in an uproar warning Israel not to attempt to storm the compound. Even the Pope let it be known how angry the Christian world would be if Israel violated the sanctity of that Christian 'holy' site. And Israel's response? How totally different than the Americans in Fallujah! The terrorists, with world (and US) blessings, were permitted to leave, to leave to a luxurious freedom in vacation spots all over Europe. These 'hoods' were given a passport to freedom so that they may continue on another day to spill Jewish blood."

"Are you ready for an answer, now?"

"No. Not yet."

" OK? go on."

"Throughout the ongoing Oslo War, Israel has accused the Arab side of using Red Crescent ambulances to transport fighters and ammunition. The need to stop these vehicles for routine checks, lest they are bringing in more explosives, was roundly condemned by every nation, the Red Cross, Amnesty International, Peace Now and other organizations determined to see Israel obliterated.

"Yet, out of Fallujah comes the same news. It seems that ambulances in Iraq are being used to transport explosives and armaments for use against the coalition forces. The US army already said that they would not allow such blatant provocations to go unchallenged. How can they? An ambulance is an ambulance is an ambulance, no?"

"Right. To answer..."

"Wait. Not yet."

Relaxing deeper into the couch, the father smiled and nodded for Yossie to continue.

His voice raised in agitation, Yossie continued: "The teacher told us that the renegade Shiite leader, Sadr, was designated as a legitimate target for elimination. In other words, if he persists in attacking the American soldiers, his fate will be sealed. Whether a Marine, a sharpshooter or by mortar from a tank, a contract has been taken out on his miserable life. The ultimatum was issued: surrender and live, continue and die.

"Yet, the murderers of our people, the Yassins, Rantisis and the arch-murderer Arafat, are protected while alive, and eulogized upon their death. When Israel targets their enemies, it is called 'illegal government terrorism' and the world clamors to the Mukata compound to offer bodily protection for the terrorists. If Israel issues a warning that the Hamas leaders are in the gunner's sights, the world raises a loud and ugly clamor and protest.

"Why, Abba, is it okay for the Americans to shoot at those who hide behind women and children and use them as human shields, but Israel must take precautions not to fire lest a civilian be killed? Why must Israel sacrifice dozens of her soldiers - as in Jenin - just so the world will be placated. And still Israel is accused of deliberate targeting of civilians?

"Why, Abba, is the world so indignant and shocked - and rightfully so - in hearing and seeing the abuse of Iraqi prisoners by US soldiers, while the torture and lynching of our soldiers receives only cursory remarks?

"Why, Abba, is the world so delighted in the almost, and perhaps still to be, expulsion of Jews from their homes and lands, while the world screams and rants at Israel?s settling and building on lands never, ever occupied by any Arabs?

"Why is the world so viciously antagonistic in their demand that Israel allow in millions of supposed refugees, while the same world is silent and doesn?t demand the return of Jews to the Arab countries from which they were forcibly expelled?

"And why, Abba, is the fence we build such a major issue? Aren't there many other fences built in order to prevent undesirables from entering and harming innocent civilians? How is the fence built between Texas and Mexico different? Or the one in Kashmir?"

He stopped, and began to cry. "I am frustrated by all these questions, Abba."

Gently caressing the boy's cheek, the father responded: "Because, Yossie, we are Jews."

Yossie understands now. Perfectly.