As news filtered through, yesterday morning, of the slaughter by Palestinians of five members of the same family – two parents and their children, aged 11, 4 and 3 months – an Israeli friend, Itzik, remarked merely “chayot” (animals). Benny Gantz, the new IDF Chief of Staff, used the term “chayot adam” (beasts).
The knife attack, late on Friday evening, was perpetrated in the home of Udi and Ruth Fogel, in the West Bank settlement of Itamar (near Nablus). Their three other children survived: two were asleep in the house at the time, while the third returned home to discover the bloodbath. (Full story)
I am not religious or a Settler. And I support Palestinian statehood. Still. Yet I cannot help but feel that Palestinian Muslims – even Muslim Arabs generally (perhaps all Muslims?) – are just not like us: if it is not stating the bleeding bloody obvious (it is not, I am sure, to the Israel-only bashers), they just don’t have the same moral code, or attach the same value to human life.
I arrived at this uncomfortable conclusion a year before 9/11, as I witnessed – ‘live’ on television, from my office in Tel Aviv – the brutal public lynching in Ramallah. There was something so viscerally shocking about that event – this Israel Channel 2 footage requires no translation – that it left an even greater mark than the spate of suicide bombings that ‘greeted’ my Aliyah, in January 1996.
Before all the knee jerks start screaming “What about Baruch Goldstein?”, his massacre – however appalling – was qualitatively and circumstantially very different from the one on Friday evening. Moreover, the Israeli government of the day – unlike the Palestinian Authority, yesterday – was swift and unqualified in its condemnation of it, as were all but the most extreme of Settlers. And it was certainly never celebrated on the Israeli street . . .
On the streets of Gaza, however, yesterday, sweets were handed out to rejoice the slaughter of the infants. And stopping at a petrol station (on the Tel Aviv-Jerusalem highway) manned by Israeli Arabs, yesterday afternoon, Itzik and I each wondered the very same thing: what exactly were their feelings about the events of the previous evening?
Call me a racist, but no sane Jew, or other human being, could even force himself to stab a baby – or any child for that matter (the expression “cold blood” is entirely superfluous in such circumstances) – to death (never mind while he or she was asleep) however much he believed in his cause. There is, however, a long history of Palestinian acts of premeditated – cf. collaterally-caused (the distinction, morally, is an extremely significant one) – infanticide (even in Itamar).
Prime Minister Netanyahu has blamed this latest atrocity on Palestinian Authority incitement against Settlements and their inhabitants, and also on the international delegitimization of this country (we are in the middle of the seventh annual Israeli Apartheid Week . . . though some folk must look forward to and enjoy it so much that it has been extended to a fortnight).
To my mind, however, the horror of Friday evening has a far simpler explanation: the essential difference between us and them. That is something which most Israelis – including even PC Brigade members (though they would never admit to it) – instinctively know. And it is the reason why, whatever concessions Israel makes to the Palestinians, there may never be peace in this Land.