Leave it to the mainstream media to justify terrorism by blaming its victims. In the wake of the Itamar tragedy where a father, mother and their three young children were butchered in a small Jewish community near Nablus in the early morning hours of March 11th, the LA Times claimed that the murder of the Fogel family was part of an ongoing "cycle of violence" where the settlements were responsible for provoking the “baby killings”; Sky News maintained that “settlements trump baby killers”; Time Magazine referred to "the murder by knife of three children" without referring to the perpetrators of the attack; and the BBC cast doubt on the terrorist aspect of it choosing instead to use this barbaric act to cast blame on the settlements and the settlers - the line purveyed by Palestinian apologists for such murders. Orwell would have termed this - "defending the indefensible." Words matter.
Even more disturbing, no words of condemnation were expressed by the same human-rights organizations that have been so quick to vilify Israel for defending itself from terrorist attacks. By willingly whitewashing this slaughter as a justifiable Palestinian response to Israeli settlements and settlers, the Western media has encouraged the savagery, incitement, hatred and demonization of Israel that has become the trademark of Palestinian society. As a result, the Palestinians see no need to confront this psychosis in their society since, in the eyes of the world they can do no wrong and need not fear any consequences for supporting terrorism. The world expects nothing of them and forgives them for everything. If the West knew what was being said in Arabic, people would be horrified.
When news of the massacre broke, the residents of the Palestinian town of Rafah in Gaza took to the streets in jubilation, throwing candies into the air to celebrate the murders. Cries of "Allah Akhbar" could be heard everywhere. One resident said that the murders were "a natural response to the harm settlers inflict on the Palestinian residents in the West Bank." Indeed, according to this mindset, a genuine Palestinian “hero” is one who has the “courage” to break into a home in the dead of night and slit the throats of its sleeping victims. And no doubt, those who perpetrate such “heroic” acts will be immortalized in the Palestinians’ pantheon of murderers whose names adorn sports tournaments, streets, city squares and children’s camps where they are revered as “martyrs” and role models for Palestinian children to emulate.
In fact, one day before the terror attack in Itamar, PA TV broadcast a program honoring Ahlam Tamimi, the woman accomplice who drove the suicide terrorist to the Sbarro pizza restaurant in August 2001. Fifteen people were murdered in that attack, seven of whom were children. And a day after the attack, members of Abbas's Fatah faction participated in an official dedication ceremony in the West Bank town of Al-Bireh for a town square dedicated to the memory of Dalal Mughrabi, a terrorist involved in killing 37 Israelis in a 1978 bus hijacking on Israel's coastal road.
As David Suissa writes:
“A Palestinian child can walk to school along a street named after the terrorist Abu Jihad, who planned a bus hijacking that killed 37, spend the day in a school named after Ahmad Yassin, the man who founded Hamas, play soccer in the afternoon in a tournament honoring terrorist Abd Al-Basset Odeh, who killed 31, and end his day at a youth center named after Abu Iyad, who was responsible for killing 11 Israeli Olympic athletes in Munich……These are the heroes of Palestinian society - not Abraham Lincolns and Albert Einsteins and Martin Luther Kings, but murderers who crave the spilling of Jewish blood.”
Given this psychotic mindset, the Itamar massacre can be seen as a logical by-product of a society that has turned barbarism into heroism, and has never been held to account for its actions. In fact, one-third of Palestinian Authority Arabs have expressed support for the brutal massacre according to a poll conducted by the Harry S. Truman Research Institute for the Advancement of Peace at the Hebrew University and the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research in Ramallah.
So when the President of the United States (who incorrectly sees the conflict in territorial not religious terms), less than two weeks before this atrocity, excoriates American Jewish leaders in Washington to “search your souls” over Israel’s seriousness about making peace, he reaches new heights of hypocrisy for not acknowledging the efforts Israel has made in its quest for peace, and for excusing, by his inaction, what the Palestinians have consistently failed to do.
Netanyahu's unreciprocated concessions have included his acceptance of Palestinian statehood and the two-state concept. He temporarily prohibited Jewish construction on the West Bank; put a hold on Jewish construction in Jerusalem; prohibited Jewish building on the West Bank and Jerusalem following the end of his construction ban; curtailed IDF counter-terrorism operations on the West Bank; looked the other way at illegal Arab construction in Jerusalem; allowed the deployment of a US-trained Palestinian army on the West Bank knowing the day may come when they could turn their weapons on Israelis; removed over four hundred security checkpoints on the West Bank to facilitate Palestinian travel; and eased the Israeli embargo on Gaza despite Hamas’s declared goal to annihilate Israel……not to mention Israel's offer of a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza, a share of Jerusalem in 2000, 2001, and again in 2008, and the 2005 Gaza withdrawal that has now led to a Hama-controlled terrorist enclave on Israel’s southern border from which missiles are fired almost daily into Israel’s civilian population centers.
Notably absent has been any U.S. action against the Palestinian Authority for not implementing democratic reforms; for sending monthly stipends to families of Palestinian terrorists who murder Israelis; for denying Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state; for showing Arab maps of Israel that show no country other than "Palestine"; for supporting terrorism as a means of "resistance”; for violating the Oslo Accords by seeking to establish a Palestinian state without direct negotiations with Israel; for demanding that the West Bank and East Jerusalem be Judenrein (Jew-free) despite the fact that Israeli Arabs constitute 20% of Israel's population and possess greater political rights than do Arabs in any Arab country in the Middle East; and for refusing to end the culture of hate that flows through its mosques, its songs, its educational system, its textbooks, and its TV and radio programs. It would appear that the Palestinians can do no wrong and that Palestinian intransigence is of little consequence. Even when they kill, Palestinians are still the victims. A recent PA television program emphasized the following quote from the Sahih Bukhari, the second holiest book of Islam:
"The Prophet says: 'You shall fight the Jews and kill them, until the tree and the stone will speak and say... 'Oh Muslim, Oh servant of Allah - there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him.'"
Article 15 of the PLO Charter states that the objective of the organization is to achieve the "elimination of Zioism in Palestine." Like Hamas, the PA consistently tells its people that Islam does not allow for reconciliation with Israel, that it will never recognize Israel as a Jewish state, and that one day, five million Palestinians will return to their homes in “Occupied Palestine” (meaning Israel).
While there are many Palestinians who genuinely desire an end to hostilities, for the most part “Palestinian nationalism” continues to be based on one issue and one issue alone - the annihilation of Israel. From the beginning of the Second Intifada in 2000, the Palestinians have supported the slaughter of over a hundred Israeli children, murdered students studying in the Mercaz HaRav Yeshiva Seminary on March 6, 2008, and attempted to murder children in nursery schools and child care centers. The PA has brainwashed and exploited its own children into becoming jihadist suicide bombers solely for the purpose of murdering Israelis in discotheques, buses, schools, pizzerias, street cafes and supermarkets. Palestinian children are dressed in military garb by their parents and are given weapons and fake suicide bombs in celebration of the day when they will be given the “opportunity” to destroy the “pigs” and “apes” of Israel and become “martyrs” for Allah. Dead Jews, they are told, will be their ticket to heaven ……. and the international community remains silent in the face of all of this and continues to pour millions of dollars into PA coffers because it has accepted the libel that “Jewish settlers” and “Israeli intransigence” are the root causes of the Arab-Israeli conflict.
As such, the Itamar massacre is seen as a “natural response” to the mere presence on the West Bank of “some of Israel’s most radical settlers” (to quote the New York Times). In effect, those who were murdered have been demonized, while those who butchered them are “understood”. By dubbing the victims “radical settlers”, the Palestinians and much of the Western media argue that the Fogels brought this horror upon themselves, and it is Israeli intransigence that is responsible for their deaths. In Palestinian eyes, and in the columns of the mainstream media, anything a Palestinian does to an Israeli is justified as it is a consequence of the settlements.
In response to Itamar, Prime Minister Netanyahu announced his intention to build four hundred new apartments in the communities that will eventually be incorporated into Israel. He should also apply Israeli law both to the Jordan Valley and the major blocs of Jewish communities on the West Bank, demolish terrorist homes, re-establish security roadblocks, and search villages from where terrorists come. It would change his failed diplomacy-based strategy to a more realistic security-based strategy.
Israelis have the right to reassess the wisdom of land-for-peace agreements with dictators. Netanyahu's mistake, and that of his predecessors for the past two decades, has been to base Israel’s security on the fallacy that by accommodating and appeasing the Palestinians and by ceding more and more land to them, Israel would be able to win-over the mainstream media and U.S. and European leaders, moderate the hatred of the Palestinians toward a Jewish state in their midst, and draw them into an honest dialogue that would lead to a lasting peace settlement. But the response of the world’s leaders, newspaper editors, intellectuals, television commentators, fashion designers, filmmakers and even the President of the United States has been to badger Israel into making even more dangerous concessions while holding the Palestinians to no moral, ethical or political benchmarks whatsoever.
There must come a point in time when Israel's responsibility for the Arab-Israeli conflict ends and Palestinian accountability begins. Until that moment arrives, there can be no peace.
Mark Silverberg is a former member of the Canadian Justice Department, a past Director of the Canadian Jewish Congress (Western Office) based in Vancouver, and served as a Consultant to the Secretary General of the Jewish Agency in Jerusalem during the first Palestinian intifada.
By excusing the Itamar slaughter as a justifiable Palestinian response to Israeli settlements and “settlers”, the Western media has encouraged the savagery, incitement, hatred and demonization of Israel that has become the trademark of Palestinian society. As a result, the Palestinians see no need to confront this psychosis since, in the eyes of the world they can do no wrong and need not fear any consequences for supporting terrorism. The world expects nothing of them and forgives them for everything.
On April 3, 2009, the New York Times ran an anti-Israel op-ed by University of California Hastings College of Law professor George Bisharat titled “Israel on Trial”. The piece, false where it is not misleading, is a disgrace. It offers a sounding board for all those who believe that only Muslims have a right to self-determination, that Gaza remains “occupied” even though Israel disengaged in 2005, and that Israel - a sovereign and legitimate nation - doesn’t have the right to defend itself against attack.
On May 21, 2008, the French Court of Appeals found in favor of Philippe Karsenty, the head of the media watchdog group Media Ratings, by overturning a lower court decision that found Karsenty had libeled France-2 TV and its Jerusalem Bureau Chief Charles Enderlin when he accused them of knowingly misleading the world about the death of a Palestinian child (Muhammad al-Dura) in the Gaza Strip in September 2000.
With all the indignation shown over allegations that Israel is causing a humanitarian crisis and exercising “collective punishment” on Gaza’s Palestinians, few have stopped to consider the possibility that this “crisis” has been engineered by Hamas to score a propaganda victory against Israel using the gullible Western media as its vehicle. This “crisis” has all the markings of a pre-arranged publicity event - skillful manipulation of the Western media, the use of falsehoods and selective information, staged atrocities, and all the other time-honored methods used by unscrupulous propagandists. Since the Palestinians staged the death of the child Mohammed al-Dura in his father's arms back in September 2000, Palestinian propaganda has not enjoyed such international success as it is enjoying today in Gaza.