It is very difficult to hate babies.
It takes a special person.
As morally wrong as it is to murder innocent adults, mankind seems to have a built-in revulsion against killing babies. If a baby does not evoke any tenderness, if a baby is regarded as worthy of being deliberately hurt or murdered, we know that we have encountered a degree of evil that few humans — even among murderers — can relate to.
That is why what Palestinian terrorists did to a Jewish family on the West Bank this past weekend deserves far more attention than it received. Normally Palestinian atrocities get little attention — certainly far less attention than an Israeli apartment building on the West Bank receives. But this particular atrocity got even less attention than usual because the world was focused on the terrible tsunami that hit Japan.
On Friday night, Palestinian terrorists slipped into a Jewish settlement, entered a home, and stabbed the father, the mother, and three of their children to death: an eleven-year-old, a four-year old, and a three-month-old baby.
In order to understand what those actions mean, a seemingly separate incident needs to be recalled: the prolonged sexual attack by up to 200 Egyptian men on Lara Logan, chief foreign-affairs correspondent for CBS News, in Tahrir Square, Cairo, a few weeks ago. It was reported that after stripping her naked and then molesting and beating her, the men kept shouting “Jew, Jew!”
The two incidents tell the same tale. In much of the Arab Muslim world, and some of the non-Arab Muslim world (such as Iran) today, “Jew” is not a person. “Jew” is not even merely the enemy. In fact, there is no parallel on earth to what “Jew” means to a hundred million, perhaps hundreds of millions of Muslims.
Think of any conflict in the world — Pakistan–India, China–Tibet, North Korea–South Korea, Tamil–Sinhalese. There are some deep hatreds there, and atrocities have been committed on one or both sides of each of those conflicts. But in none of those conflicts nor anywhere else is there something equivalent to what “Jew” means to millions of Muslims.
There really is only one historical parallel, and it, too, involved the word “Jew.” The Nazis also succeeded in fully dehumanizing the word “Jew.” Thus, for Nazism, it was as important (if not more so) to murder Jewish babies and children — often through as cruel a means as possible (being burned alive, buried alive, or thrown up in the air and impaled on bayonets) — as it was to murder Jewish adults.
The human being does not have to learn to hate. It seems to come pretty naturally. Nor does the human being have to learn to murder, steal, or rape. These, too, seem to be in the natural human repertoire of evils.
But the human being does have to learn to hate children and babies, and to regard the torture and murder of them as morally desirable acts. It takes years of work to undo normal protective human attitudes toward children.
That is precisely what the Nazis did and what significant parts of the Muslim world have done to the word “Jew.” To them, the Jew is not just sub-human, the Jew — and his or her children — is sub-animal.