It has been nearly a week since the Sabbath massacre in Itamar, but even with
the passage of time the sense of horror and revulsion it evoked just will not
abate. The mind refuses to believe and the heart cannot fathom the sheer
devastation inflicted on the Fogel family, whose only crime was a desire to live
as proud and free Jews in their own land.
Though I never met them, I
continue to be haunted by the photos of the three Fogel children who were
murdered along with their parents, their precious smiles forever erased by the
depraved act of a Palestinian terrorist.
The carnage left behind three
orphans younger than 12, and a nation in shock at the brutality of our
Unlike some in the media, I have no interest in trying to
understand the motivations of the savage who committed this cruel act, nor do I
care what political grievances – real or imagined – he may have had.
man who raises a knife and plunges it into a three-month-old child is evil, pure
and simple. The perpetrators have forfeited their humanity, and Israel should
hunt them down with all the determination and resolve it can muster. The
terrorists must be made to understand in no uncertain terms that they cannot act
with impunity, and that their day of reckoning will surely come.
butchery in Itamar cannot and must not become just another entry on the long
list of Jewish victims of Palestinian terror. It must be a turning point, both
in how we view the peace process and, more importantly, how we view
FOR FAR too long we have tolerated the intolerable, from bus
bombings to rocket attacks to the kidnapping of soldiers. We have allowed not
one but two terrorist entities to take shape alongside us: the Palestinian
Authority in Ramallah and the Hamas regime in Gaza. And we have kowtowed and
capitulated to international pressure to refrain from toppling them.
slaughter in Itamar is a stark reminder of the degeneracy of our foes. Indeed,
the spontaneous reaction of many Palestinians was to take to the streets and
celebrate, handing out candy as if their team had just won the Super Bowl or
This says a great deal about Palestinian society, and
especially about its leadership, which is willing to tolerate and even
countenance such behavior. Clearly, these are not people with whom a serious
agreement can be forged, however much we might wish to believe
So let’s stop the charade and discard the delusions that have
guided our policy since the failed 1993 Oslo Accords. It is time to admit the
obvious: The Palestinians aren’t ready for peace nor do they truly want it. And
we must stop pretending otherwise.
After the attack, the government was
right to highlight the systematic incitement to violence in the Palestinian
media and educational system, which foment an atmosphere of hatred and loathing
and set the stage for still more terrorists to emerge. But what went largely
unsaid was the role of the international community, which also bears part of the
blame for what occurred in Itamar, if only because of its ongoing
delegitimization of the Jewish communities of Judea and Samaria.
last month, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton went out of her way to declare
that “it’s been American policy for many years that settlements were
Labeling the Jewish population of the territories
“illegal” and “illegitimate” plays directly into the hands of the terrorists, in
effect painting a large target on the backs of every Jewish “settler.” If Jewish
families in Itamar are repeatedly branded as “occupiers,” is it any surprise
that there will be those who will see no problem in attacking them?
AND THAT is
why we must vigorously assert and defend the justness of our cause, and rebut
the slander that Judea and Samaria are “occupied.”
But there is another
lesson to be learned from the events of the past week, one no less important to
our future. As much as we just love to draw distinctions among ourselves, be
they social, economic, political or ethnic, the reality is that in the eyes of
our foes we are all settlers.
While some in Haifa might wish to believe
that they are categorically unlike those in Hebron, it is a distinction without
a difference, at least as far as the terrorists are concerned.
responding to the massacre, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu wisely chose to
underline Israel’s determination by approving the construction of several
hundred new housing units in Judea and Samaria.
“They shoot, we build,”
he told the grieving members of the Fogel family during a shiva
While this will help to strengthen the Jewish presence in these
areas, it still falls short of what can and should be done. After all, the new
homes approved for construction are in communities such as Ariel and Gush
Etzion, which everyone agrees we would hold onto as part of any final
A stronger message could have – and should have – been sent
by authorizing the establishment of new settlements as well as expanding Itamar
itself. In our struggle for this land, we must make clear to the Palestinians
that any attempt to extinguish Itamar or other communities will only result in
their further growth and development.
Or to put it even more bluntly: The
sweetest revenge is to build. Let every destructive Palestinian act of terrorism
be met with a constructive and overwhelming response. For at the end of the day,
the key to peace lies not in removing the settlers, but in disavowing the
Palestinians of the notion that our presence here is temporary. Only once they
internalize this message will peace have any chance of breaking out.