If there's anything we ought to have learned in the last decade, it is that the conflict between Israel and the Arabs is not so much a dispute about land as it is a question of hatred.
What sort of hatred?
Arab and Islamic hatred for Jews and intolerance for the notion of Jewish sovereignty in the historic homeland of the Jewish people are the fuel that's kept the fires of war burning for every day of the 58 years of Israel's existence.
It is that hate which has spiked every chance for peace, dating back to the U.N. effort to partition the land into an Arab state and a truncated Jewish state. The Jews agreed, but the Arab and Islamic world refused the offer. And they have continued to refuse it, despite strenuous peace initiatives that have offered the Palestinians everything they could reasonably hope for — except Israel's destruction.
That is why more attention still needs to be paid to the program of hate education about Jews and Israel being forced down the throats of Arab children by the Palestinian Authority since it took control of these schools more than a decade ago as a result of the Oslo peace accords. The same could also be said of the education served up to children throughout the Arab and Islamic world.
By contrast, Israeli children have been the subject of an intensive peace-education curriculum promoted by the Jewish state's educational system. Though intolerance was always shunned in Israel's schools, since Oslo, tolerance for Arabs and eradication of bigotry has been especially emphasized in all state schools and grades.
Though not all Arabs are haters and not every Israeli is a paragon of tolerance, there is simply no comparison between what goes on in terms of learning about peace and hate between Israel and its Arab neighbors.
No person even remotely informed about the situation — no matter his or her opinions about the rights and wrongs of Israeli policies or military tactics — could possibly make such an analogy.
Yet that's exactly what The Philadelphia Inquirer did in an editorial published last week on July 21.
Perched alongside its masthead, the Inquirer printed two Associated Press photos under the headline "The Wars Go On: When We Teach Our Children to Hate." One photo showed an Israeli child writing a message to Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of the Hezbollah terrorists on an artillery shell. Next to it was a photo of an Arab mother and nuzzling baby. The editorial that followed pontificated that the pictures illustrated that both peoples were teaching their "young to revere killing."
The photo of the Israeli child may reflect bad judgment on the part of any adults present, since children should not be playing around what is presumably a piece of live ordinance.
But the Israeli girl shown expressing the hope that the shell will find the terrorist chieftain who has rained death and destruction on her country is not expressing hate, merely a healthy expression of her nation's right to exist and defend itself.
It is, in fact, no different than the many pictures published in this country during World War II, which showed American kids sending similar messages on pieces of scrap metal collected for war use to Adolf Hitler and the warlords of Japan.
Nor it is markedly different from the general American sentiment — held by young and old alike — in favor of American munitions being dropped upon the heads of the authors of the 9/11 atrocities.
The Arab mother and child, whose picture would otherwise be considered unexceptional, is shown because we are told the infant has been named "Raad" for a missile used by Hezbollah terrorists. The piece ends with a pious hope that little Raad will grow up "to be a peacemaker" with the Israeli girls shown in the other picture.
We all hope so, too, but the unlikelihood of that possibility has nothing to do with the notion put forward by the Inquirer editorial that Israel is "losing its soul" to hatred.
The piece puts forward the astonishing idea that there is a moral equivalence between Israeli shelling of terrorist strongholds, where killers hide among civilians, and the rocket fire of Hamas and Hezbollah, which deliberately avoids military targets in favor of those where only civilians might be present.
Who Is Trapped?
For those who write editorials at the Inquirer, the tragedy of the rockets aimed at Israel seems to be that they kill "Israeli civilians who did not start the war yet are trapped in it." They feel the same way about Lebanese civilians, whom they describe with the same phrase.
Leave aside the fact that the recent fighting — as well as the six-decade war to destroy the Jewish state — wasn't started by Israelis, military or civilian. That is a point the Inquirer itself has often acknowledged.
Look instead at the fact that the goal of the Israeli military is not genocide of the Arabs, but to eradicate the terrorists.
By contrast, as those who speak for the publishers of the Inquirer should know, the goal of Hezbollah and Hamas is specifically to kill as many Jews as possible. Their rockets, as well as the suicide bombings employed by this group and their Palestinian allies, have no other possible purpose. Reasonable persons may question the strategy employed by the Jewish state's leaders. But to attempt to paint them as being no better than Hezbollah is a demonstration not of insight but of ignorance.
Moreover, to treat the spirit of defiance of terror that has united the Israeli people in the face of Hezbollah's and Hamas' aggression as an expression of soulless hate of Arabs is a distortion of such massive scope as to cross over the border from mere editorial stupidity to deliberate falsehood.
It is true that both Lebanese and Israeli civilians are all victims of this cruel war. But a moral universe where the efforts to defend a people against obliteration are considered as equally worthy of lamentation as that of those who wish to destroy them is one that raises moral obtuseness to the point of amorality.
If anyone wonders why so many readers nowadays seem to prefer the obvious bias and uninformed invective that poses as commentary on the Internet to the work of professional journalists, then they need only read this disgraceful piece for an explanation. If the professionals are capable of such atrocities, then even the worst of the amateurs have no need to blush.