fogel itamar attack body bags 311.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
I ask the same question Bret Stephens asked in The Wall Street Journal on
Tuesday: “Are Israeli settlers human?” Why was the savage attack in Itamar, in
which five member of a family were murdered, couched in terms like “settlers”
and “occupied territories”? Do these (albeit inaccurate) epithets directed
toward this group in the hills of Samaria somehow lessen the severity of the
How is the murder of a three-month-old baby girl, along with her
four-year-old and 11-year-old brothers and her parents, any different from one
in Dublin or London? Would the Irish have slept any easier knowing that an IRA
man had slashed the throat of a Protestant baby in Belfast, rather than shooting
a soldier? I ask this as an Irishman, with childhood memories of daily news
reports of murders and bombings.
A Palestinian man interviewed in Rafah
stated that this massacre was a “natural response” to the actions of Israel.
Now, my compatriots – ever-sympathetic of the Palestinian “cause” – need to
place themselves in that situation: How would they have felt if their neighbor
said such a thing, following such an act by a coreligionist or compatriot. The
man had it completely upside down. There was nothing “natural” about this. And
that’s what civilized society should always maintain. Nothing excused the Omagh
bombing in 1998 to the vast majority of Irish. Nothing.
is nothing “natural” about naming summer camps, soccer tournaments and a public
square in Ramallah after Dalal Mughrabi. While some mourn the death of IRA
hunger-striker Bobby Sands in prison in 1981, his actions were relatively benign
by comparison to Mughrabi’s.
What we – and most in the West – are doing,
in the midst of our latest whitewash of terrorism, is refusing to look evil
straight in the face. As American columnist Dennis Prager said, it is just too
bright. It is easier to look at the less severe forms. So, we pander to the
propaganda and convince ourselves that Israel’s security barrier is in some
bizarre way the worse manifestation of evil in that region. It’s just easier
Example: The same news agencies who reported on the Itamar
massacre whitewash reports about car-torching “youths” in French suburbs, or
“honor killings” in Burnley and Eindhoven. You have to decode these news items
yourself to uncover the specifics of the crimes.
By performing this
whitewash, however, we in the West not only dehumanize the “settlers”; we
dehumanize the Palestinians. We do this by implicitly expecting a lower standard
of behavior than that of the Israelis – and, indeed, ourselves. Whereas one
solitary act of terrorism that Israel has suffered – one rocket attack, one
stabbing, one suicide bombing – would have Ireland in a state of national
emergency, we shrug our shoulders when it happens east of Europe’s Asian
PART OF why the Northern Irish Troubles went away was that
Ireland had its own “Not in Our Name” movement, much like the anti-Iraq war
movement in the US today. But where are such movements in Gaza or Hebron or
Nablus? No, they’re more likely to be the ones passing out sweets in Gaza, as
pictured last Sunday.
Again, bring the issue closer to home: Can my
fellow Irish imagine if, after a similarly horrific killing in Belfast, some
gleeful, wide-eyed youth gave them a sweet? Would you be, to quote Ireland’s
independence leader Eamonn de Valera, dancing at the crossroads in celebration
of another strike toward national liberation? And the problem is, there is no
“national” in the Palestinian question. What could at least have been said about
the IRA is that it wanted a united Ireland and the British to quit Ireland’s
shores. There is simply no question that bombings in London or Manchester or
Birmingham would have ceased.
But, to draw comparisons about Northern
Ireland’s Troubles with those of Israel and the Palestinians is specious and
misleading. While there are some groups of genuine peace-loving nation-builders
among the Palestinians, for the most part the “nationalism” is based on one
issue: destroying Israel.
To return to Ireland, it is as if, once we got
the 1921- 22 civil war out of the way, we’d spent the subsequent nine decades
continuing to attack – militarily and politically – Britain. It would be as if
we developed no national, civil institutions, and spent all our financial and
moral means on the destruction of our neighbors.
Say what you want about
the Celtic tiger, and subsequent crash, it never would have happened had our
nationalism reflected that of the Palestinians.
The Palestinians are kept
in a perpetual welfare state – each bombing and rocket attack funded, largely,
by the EU. This has enabled the most vile indoctrination of anti-Semitism,
through their state-run media and state-run school curriculum, to fester
unchecked. (I wonder how many Irish have looked up “Palestinian indoctrination”
on YouTube to see what education means to Hamas and Fatah.) And what have the
Palestinians’ donors gotten in return? A mentality that not simply enabled the
Itamar massacre to occur. Worse. It allowed people to view it as
“natural.”The writer is an Irish clinical psychologist living in