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Another “Mug Him Again” Moment

Last year when liberal Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer was robbed, the New York Post editorial page used it to recall one of the late Ed Koch’s favorite anecdotes:

Back when he was first running for mayor, Ed Koch used to tell of the time he told some senior citizens about a judge he knew who’d been mugged.

The judge, said Koch, told a group that “this mugging will not influence any of my decisions from the bench” — whereupon a woman yelled, “Mug him again!”

While the Post was roundly criticized in some quarters for insensitivity, the lesson was apt. Those who can’t learn from their encounters with violent criminals lack credibility when they render judgment on dealing with related issues.

This anecdote came to mind when reading of the encounter of leftist Israeli filmmaker Yariv Horowitz–who was in Aubagne, France to pick up an award at a film festival for his film Rock the Casbah–had with a gang of Arab toughs. Though his movie is a cinematic attack on Israeli policies and a bouquet thrown in the direction of the Palestinians, the Arabs proved to be uninterested in his politics and instead subjected him to the same treatment they have accorded to many another Jew: he was badly beaten.

But like the judge in the Ed Koch story, Horowitz won’t let it influence him. When he regained consciousness, he refused to press charges against his attackers. Nor did he draw any conclusions about the intent of the mob that beat him up.

As Ruthie Blum aptly noted in her column in Israel Hayom, as awful as this incident was, it is also the sort of thing that it is hard not to laugh at. As she writes, one of the drawbacks about being an Israeli Israel-basher is that it doesn’t earn you much applause or even a hearing from European or Arab opponents of the country:

This is not the only example of Israelis with impeccable left-wing credentials being shunned by their like-minded counterparts abroad. Academic boycotts of Israeli professors also point to this pathetic phenomenon. Like the art world, academia is a sector that can be relied upon to side with its country’s detractors. Yet, this does not guarantee immunity for even the most pro-Palestinian Israeli lecturers. …

What this goes to show, for the millionth time, is that ill will and stupidity are not mutually exclusive. Indeed, the Israeli radicals are foolish for assuming that their ideology makes them any less Jewish in the eyes of the enemy.

Israeli left-wingers may answer that their critiques of their country are meant to improve it rather than to aid the efforts of those who seek its destruction. But the incident in Aubagne ought to be another wake-up moment about the nature of the conflict. When Palestinians cheered Saddam Hussein for shooting missiles at Israel during the Gulf War, some on the left said the experience would change their view of their neighbors. Others said the same thing when Palestinian suicide bombers indiscriminately slaughtered Jewish men, women and children and were treated as heroes by their people during the second intifada.

The point here is not to assert that all Arabs are bad or that Israel can do no wrong, but that it is important to understand that the core of the conflict is the hatred and intolerance of Jews. After decades of failed attempts by Israel to make peace that have been answered with murder and terror, anyone who won’t own up to this reality may need to get mugged again.


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