Notes From Babel

Palestinian Terrorist Murders Family in Jewish Settlement

with 5 comments

[Update: According to this article, there is some doubt whether the acts were committed by Palestinians, and authorities have arrested a Thai man who was working in the Itamar settlement.]

I’ve been struggling for a way to comment on the brutal slaughter of a Jewish family by Palestinian terrorists while they slept in their home in the Itamar settlement.  Links to stories here and here.  Unlike most conservatives, I am not reflexively pro-Israel.  I frankly don’t quite understand why Americans would have a strong bias one way or another when it comes to the deeply complex political, cultural, religious, historical, and geographical conflicts that have plagued the Middle East since time immemorial.  Yet, most of us do.

But the merciless slaughter of a sleeping family, including a three-month-old infant, followed by “Carnivals [] held in the streets as Hamas members handed out sweets,” defies the capacity of any decent person to maintain ambivalence.  I appreciate the fact that there are, numerically speaking, more Israeli attacks on Palestinians and more Palestinian casualties than Israeli.  But an acknowledgment of human decency requires nothing less than unequivocal denunciation of these acts—not only the murders themselves, but the despicable celebration of them by Palestinian crowds.


Written by Tim Kowal

March 14, 2011 at 11:00 pm

5 Responses

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  1. Please clarify what you mean by: “I appreciate the fact that there are, numerically speaking, more Israeli attacks on Palestinians and more Palestinian casualties than Israeli.” Any cites you can provide would also be appreciated. Thanks.


    March 15, 2011 at 10:06 am

    • I would soften this by replacing “fact” with “contention,” since I have not fact-checked the statement with any rigor. But I have heard that argument made at various times. I don’t frequent the site and cannot vouch for its reliability, but the Palestine News Network ( keeps a tally of “Israeli Attacks” and “Palestinian Attacks” on the left bar of its home page. Again, I don’t know how much they’re stacking the decks, and certainly there’s plenty of room to fudge the numbers (what constitutes an “attack”? is a prolonged engagement counted as a single “attack”?), but that’s the argument being made.

      Tim Kowal

      March 15, 2011 at 9:07 pm

  2. I have young children of my own, and I felt disguist and horror when I learned of this brutal and inhumane act. I hope that they can find the perpretrators and bring them to justice.

    But what terrifies me even more is knowing what Israel is capable of when given a green light to take revenge. And it is disguisting to use a tragedy as leverage to fulfill a political aim. Already Israel announced they will build 500 more homes to expand that settlement. Michael Ben Ari of the Knesset said: “I call upon the government to carry out a ‘price tag’ and expel the residents of the village from which the murderers emerged, and to demolish the village and build in its place apartments for young couples of army veterans.”

    So collective punishment, which is a characteristically and historically Israeli protocol, is likely going to be used here to hurt innocent Palestinians, not to mention a reversal of pressure from international community on settlement freeze. Israel definitely gains political capital from this tragedy, and it knows how to use it to its advantage.


    March 16, 2011 at 11:38 pm

  3. As far as the statistics and facts of Israeli and Palestinian casualties go, no need to take the word of Palestine News Network or any Palestinian untrustworthy source. Go straight to B’Tselem the Israeli non-governmental agency and study it there:

    Also, speaking of choosing one’s sources carefully and separating facts from contention, I think one needs to be careful getting “news” from opinion blogs. Tim’s second link to the jpost site was an opinion blog where the writer talks about a carnival held in the streets but makes no mention of the Palestinian official response. Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad said he “clearly and firmly denounces the terror attack…We are against all types of violence,” Fayyad said during a tour in Bethlehem. “Our position has not changed. As we have said many times before, we categorically oppose violence and terror, regardless of the identity of the victims or the perpetrators.” Of course, this could be just empty words and rhetoric. I’m certainly not a big fan of this guy. But at the same time, why leave out his statement when “reporting” on the issue? Reporting should show the full picture of an event, and selective spinning should be left to the blogs.


    March 16, 2011 at 11:51 pm

    • Fair enough. I went to the Palestine News Network hoping to find just that: the Palestinian side of the story. There was very little on the incident there.

      Tim Kowal

      March 16, 2011 at 11:54 pm

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