“…Ad Be’chor Hashvi Asher B’veis Ha’bor” – Collective Punishment

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When American bombs fell over Iraq and surely killed some innocent Iraqis who certainly had nothing to do with the war, there was barely any public outcry. When the UN placed sanctions on Iraq and many innocent women and children suffer, nevertheless the sanctions continue. When the US went into Afghanistan and accidentally hit innocent people the government explained that was all part of the war and couldn’t be helped.


Yet when Israel closes off the West Bank and doesn’t allow any terrorists to infiltrate, there is widespread condemnation, anger, and a media outcry. Why must innocent Palestinians suffer? “What right does Israel have to put the territories under a state of siege,” they ask?


The Torah tells us that during the plague of “makos b’choros” the killing of the firstborn  – even those firstborn children of captured maids who were imprisoned in an Egyptian dungeon were killed by G-d. Rashi tells us that their crime was that they too were happy when the Jews suffered.


Everyone remembers quite well how when the Iraqi scud missiles came raining down on Israel, it was the Palestinians who stood on their rooftops and cheered. Everyone remembers how the Palestinians danced in the street when the Twin Towers came crashing down. Palestinians don’t just cheer, but their towns and villages act as a haven for terrorists. The Palestinians use their own children as human shields, yet cry out when their children get killed in the crossfire.


One wonders at the media’s duplicity. Why is it that Jewish blood can be spilled like water, but self-defense is seen as an act of murder?


The Torah teaches us that those who are happy when others suffer are just as guilty as those that take part in the cruelty itself. Even those in the Egyptian jails were punished for rejoicing at the suffering Jews.