Three Lessons from Itamar

The murder of five members of the Fogel family is so chilling that it is beyond words to describe — at least, it’s beyond me. Try to put yourself in the place of 12-year old Tamar Fogel entering the house and finding her parents and three younger siblings, including 3-month old Hadas, dead in pools of blood, slaughtered like farm animals.

I am writing this because there are important lessons here. Maybe in this moment of horror, it will be possible to break through the walls that some people have built around themselves that prevent them from seeing simple truths.

The first lesson is that the perpetrators were not crazy. Their behavior was not an aberration. They have been brought up to believe in their hearts that Jews are creatures of the devil, that the ‘occupation’ of ‘Palestinian land’ — which is never presented as the 1967 territories, but the whole of ‘Palestine’ — is a direct insult to their manhood which must be revenged, and that their society approves of extreme violence as a solution. Indeed, they know that the more violent and bloody their actions, the more honor they will gain.

Some of the ways in which the official Palestinian media encouraged violence in the weeks leading up to the murders are described here by Palestinian Media Watch. Keep in mind that this goes on 100% of the time, in schools, mosques, radio, TV, etc.

Itamar is a tiny place, with about 160 families. Yet this isn’t the first time it’s been attacked:

In May 2001, Gilad Zar, one of Itamar’s founders and son of Jewish religious terrorist Moshe Zar, was shot dead in an ambush by Palestinians.

In May 2002, three yeshiva students: Netanel Riachi (17), Gilad Stiglitz (14) and Avraham Siton (17), were killed by a Palestinian gunman.

In June 2002, a Palestinian terrorist burst into the home of the Shabo family and opened fire. Rachel Shabo, the mother of the family, was murdered, as were three of her children: Neria (16), Zvi (13), and Avishai (5). Another two children were seriously injured. Yossi Tuito, who served as commander of the neighborhood preparedness team, was also shot to death as he approached the family’s house in order to help. — Wikipedia

The terrorists that committed the 2002 shooting of the three students in Itamar were honored just last month on official Palestinian Authority (PA) TV. I don’t doubt that this week’s ‘heroes’ will get the same treatment:

2002 Itamar terrorists honored on PA TV

The second lesson is that Israeli concessions short of suicide will not stop this. Every Arab map shows ‘Palestine’ in place of Israel, all of Israel, not a state composed of Judea, Samaria and Gaza. Every time an Arab talks about ‘occupation’, ‘Palestinian land’, etc., he means the whole of Israel. There are many ways to prove this: maps, statements made by leaders, media, the insistence on ‘right of return’, the refusal to recognize Israel as a Jewish state, etc.

But here is what we learn from this incident: if the conflict is only about borders, something that Israeli and PA negotiators have been relatively close to agreement about, why the viciousness, the blood? Why not just make an agreement and get on with building a state?

The answer is that it is not about a state — it’s about hating Jews. And it will be about hating Jews regardless of which side of the line they live on.

The third lesson, derived from the second, is that all Israelis are ‘settlers’. The BBC, which reflexively expostulates “illegal under international law” every time Jews living beyond the Green Line are mentioned, makes sure to call the murder victims “a Jewish settler family … in the West Bank.” But from the Arab point of view, there’s no distinction. So it is not helpful to write, as the AP did, that Itamar is “home to some of Israel’s most radical settlers,” as if somehow their determination to stay where they are despite terrorism makes them guilty of bringing said terrorism upon themselves!

If Israel acceded to all Arab demands, evacuated every last settlement, redivided Jerusalem, etc., and there was still terrorism (which of course would be the case), it would interesting to see how the BBC, the AP, etc. would spin it. Would they blame ‘radical Israelis’ for wanting to live in Tel Aviv, which “the Palestinians have said they want as part of their state?”

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