There was once a time, when the Zionist pioneering spirit still reigned in Israel, when the Israeli response to terrorist murders was to build a new neighborhood, or entire new community for every person murdered by a terrorist. Yitzchak Rabin followed this policy during his first term in office, and Menachem Begin and Shimon Peres followed his lead. When Yitzchak Shamir was prime minister, the communities of Rechalim and Shvut Rachel were built in memory of Rachel Druk – a young woman who was murdered in a terrorist attack. These were the last communities to be built in response to terrorist murders. Once Rabin took office following the 1992 election, that policy was stopped. In its place, we have had the Oslo disaster of the past 18 years.
The community of Itamar has been one of the hardest hit by terrorist attacks. The community holds land spread out over several hilltops south of Shchem, but has only been allowed to build in certain limited areas. In 2002, in response to the horrific attack on the Shabo family’s home, in which the family’s mother and three children were murdered and another two children were critically injured, the government installed a hi-tech electronic fence surrounding the community as part of a wide-ranging security apparatus.
That fence was bested this past Friday night as terrorists climbed over it and entered the community. They broke into the Fogel family’s home and murdered the two parents, Udi and Ruth, and three of their six children – Yoav (11), Elad (4), and Hadas, who was barely three months old.
The immediate response of the Israeli government, even before the funerals of the Fogel family, was to announce approval of 400 new housing units in the communities of Ariel, Maale Adumim, Kiryat Sefer and Gush Etzion.
Of course the Palestinian leadership was upset by this response. Abu Mazen declared that it is “wrong and unacceptable,” and his spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeineh said that the atmosphere in which such decisions are made does not help, but only creates problems. “Peace requires courageous decisions,” he added.
When the Israeli government pursued such a policy as a matter of course, the terrorists and their leaders knew that every bullet fired, every bomb exploded, and every knife plunged into the heart of a Jew would boomerang on them. It would result in even more Jews settling the Land of Israel. More houses would be built, more families would move in, and the purported aim of the terrorists – a land bereft of Jews where the terrorists could live unfettered – would become farther and farther from reality.
That is the Zionist response.
In Abu Mazen’s eyes, of course, the Zionist response is “wrong and unacceptable.” Let us not forget that the main reason there have been no negotiations in the past two years – and the main reason Tzipi Livni couldn’t get anyone else to support her for prime minister after the last election – is that Abu Mazen refuses to accept the presence of any kind of Jewish homeland in Israel. Livni went along with this refusal at the Annapolis Conference in 2007, and it was that attitude, in large part, that drove many political parties away from her when the cards were down after the 2009 election. And Abu Mazen has consistently refused to budge on this point, which has kept Netanyahu – to his credit – away from the negotiating table despite all of his best intentions.
Abu Mazen’s response to this weekend’s horror in Itamar is much of the same – No to the Zionist presence in Israel, No to Israel as the national homeland of the Jews.
Never mind that it is Abu Mazen’s own fault that Israel has now decided to resume building in these communities. Never mind that the “atmosphere” his spokesman complains about is very much one of their own creation. “Peace requires courageous decisions,” so they say.
With that last statement, I can agree. And I applaud the courageous decision of Israel’s government to present the real Zionist response to unending Palestinian terrorism. More Jewish homes throughout Israel. More settlement. More Jewish return to the heartland of the Jewish nation – the lands of Judea and Samaria.
Interior Minister Eli Yishai had the right idea. “I would not stop with 400 units. We need at least 1000 new housing units for each person murdered.”
The only problem with this decision is that it had to take the murder of a family in order for the decision to be made. But one can always hope – and it is hope, after all, upon which Israel is built – that this decision will make all terrorists think twice before carrying out such unmitigated brutality in the future. Perhaps, just perhaps, this courageous decision really can bring more peace and quiet.