Al Dura was a Palestinian boy, allegedly shot by the IDF in 2000. The IDF has killed many young Arabs both before and after this event—some of them deliberately, as in Kfar Qasem. Al Dura’s case was made different by graphic TV footage. It appears likely that al Dura was shot by his compatriots either accidentally in the gunfight with the IDF, or deliberately to stage the footage. That wouldn’t be unusual either: Arabs murder young girls as a matter of family honor, and young Arabs are killed accidentally in clashes between Palestinian factions. Israeli propaganda officials overestimate the importance of al Dura. Muslims and European anti-Semites needed a symbol to rally around against Israel, and al Dura’s death made for just such a symbol. Short of it, any other face would have done. Dir Yassin was made a focal point for anti-Israeli agendas for decades.

Israel kept silent on al Dura’s case for years despite the fact that the IDF investigation established that al Dura was shot from the Arab side. Barak closed the investigation and effectively made the IDF absorb the blame. Years later a Jewish activist accused a French TV channel of misleadingly editing the footage, the channel sued back, and Israel was forced to support the activist. Still, many Israeli and Diaspora officials denounce the efforts the restore the IDF’s image. Theirs is a typical Judenrat attitude that it’s okay for the Jews to be blamed and suffer for imaginary crimes, but not to disrupt the quiet by protesting loudly. They embody the suicidal position that Jews should be nice, no matter what. In their personal lives, they drag minor offenders to court and scream over property issues, but on the communal level they have nothing to defend since they don’t identify with Jews. In their own eyes, they are shepherds or owners of Jewish human cattle, and cattle cannot be insulted.

The case of al Dura brings us back to Zhabotinsky’s position on Beilis, a Russian version of Dreifus. At the height of pogrom attitudes in Russia, Zhabotinsky argued that Jews should not rush to clear themselves from the allegations, but should proudly ignore them. Zhabotinsky’s position makes sense when dealing with mobs who only seek rationalization for their hatred of Jews. It is a waste of time to try to prove to Muslims or European anti-Semites that Jews don’t normally target Arab kids. Just like the Americans were condemned for the isolated My Lai incident, so were the Jews for al Dura. People cannot stand someone of higher morality than they are. Muslims and Europeans, who kill millions of their own and have the greatest fun killing Jews, desperately need to prove that Jews are also detestable murderers. When the murder of Jesus doesn’t do, al Dura kicks in.

But there are others: decent Americans, honest Europeans, and well-wishing Christians. They wouldn’t think badly of Israel even if the IDF killed al Dura; they know that wars kill. They are, however, entitled to know the truth. The IDF personnel are also entitled to be cleared of murder. Zhabotinsky was right that the hysterical campaign to defend Beilis actually defamed the Jews. In al Dura’s case, Israel only needs to present good evidence of Arabs killing him. If such evidence is unavailable, Israel can still comment that killing is the nature of war. There is no need to whitewash ourselves hysterically, but telling the facts is the right thing to do.