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Itamar: Turning Victims Into National Blood Sacrifices

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The victims of the Itamar massacre were buried today in Israel and most who eulogized the Fogel family shouted suitably racist slogans demanding vengeance and the like.  They called them a korban, or blood sacrifice on the altar of Greater Israel.  But there was a still small voice of sanity, and it was from the victim’s brother:

Motti Fogel, brother of Udi Fogel, eulogized his younger brother but warned that his death cannot be used as a tool in a national struggle.

“All of the slogans we hear are trying to efface the simple fact that you’re dead, and nothing can efface that. This funeral has to be a private affair,” Fogel said, adding: “A man dies to himself, to his children. Udi, you are no a national event. You’re horrible death mustn’t make your life into a tool.”

“Udi, my young brother, you made me wake up today at 6:15 in the morning, and you know how hard that is for me. Everything I could say would be a cliché. If I could, I’d chase out everyone who came here and whisper to you, ‘Udi, let’s go play soccer.’”

Is it possible amidst the anger and rage that Israelis might remember that these are individual human beings and not national symbols.  They should be memorialized as human beings and not as representatives of the nation.

I read Dimi Reider’s J’Accuse against the Israeli left for not condemning the Itamar terror attack quickly or loudly enough:

The sheer viciousness of this cold-blooded butchery should have provoked furious condemnation from those unequivocally opposed to the targeting of civilians – Israel’s civil society,the Left and the activist (“radical”) Left. However, at the time of writing, only two organizations spoke out…

Why should anyone have expressed “furious condemnation?”  What would such furiousness prove?  That we are morally consistent?  That we have passed some sort of litmus test that allows us to call ourselves balanced and fair?

He went further with the following nonsense:

The activist Left’s confused and muted response reveals a shameful double standard – one that is not necessarily thought-out and intentioned, but one that needs to be urgently confronted and weeded out. It demonstrates that despite political awareness and commitment to human rights and international law, our community has yielded to one of the most common afflictions of a conflict area, and dehumanized an entire community, consciously or subconsciously rendering it second-class, semi-legitimate target for brutal violence.

Dimi has spent too much time reading the blogs of his so-called friends on the left and not enough reading the settler blogs.  What does “dehumanizing an entire community” mean anyway?  I think the writer has things completely backwards.  Dimi, these are settlements, not proper Israeli communities within the Green Line.  They are not legitimate either in Israeli or international terms.  I don’t wish to dehumanize Itamar, but frankly there is nothing justifiable about the place.

And talk about “dehumanizing.”  Who dehumanizes whom, Dimi?  Read any settler blog and recount the adjectives, the slur, the calumnies, the statements that are hillul Ha-Shem against us on the left.  Don’t talk to me about turning anyone into “legitimate targets for violence.”  I can’t begin to tell you how many Rotter members have urged the Mossad to kill me.  Let’s get real.  Anyone who reads, anyone with their heads screwed on knows the level of hate and violence is far, far greater on the radical right than on the left.

As for turning them into second class citizens, puh-leeze, these are first-class citizens who live better than a very large percentage of Israelis within the Green Line.  They have chosen to live on Palestinian lands, stolen from their previous rightful owners.  Should I defend them for their theft?  Should I reach out my hand in brotherly love?

Do I wish Itamar’s residents to be “targets for brutal violence?”  No.  But the fact is that they make themselves a target not only by living there but by engaging in brutal acts of violence and murder against surrrounding Palestinian villages and international human rights workers who support them.  Residents of the settlement have beaten up and robbed human rights activists and wounded and killed Palestinian from neighboring villages.  Dimi concedes such violence from Itamar but while he enumerates the number of dead buried there, he doesn’t run through a litany of Palestinian dead and injured.  If anything turns Itamar into a target for brutal retailiation it is these acts of homicidal rage.

Again, to be clear, I don’t support violence of any kind against civilians on either side.  But as far as Itamar is concerned, you reap what you sow.  Violence begets more violence.  The only way to end the violence is by withdrawing from all the Itamars and negotiating a true peace settlement with a return to 1967 borders.

Returning to the 972 post, Dimi apparently was keeping score of which groups publicly criticized the massacre and whether they were sufficiently sincere in their denunciation.  Frankly, I find the whole thing unseemly.  With a tragedy such as this, every person and group will have a different reaction and seek to express it in their own way.  To keep score as if this were a baseball game I find annoying and beside the point.

Just taking myself as an example, after I heard the news it took quite some time to digest it and figure out what, if anything, I could say that would add to the discussion, rather than repeat what others might be saying.  An Israeli journalist with whom I’d been working on the Dirar Abu Seesi story challenged me to say something, which led to the post I wrote yesterday.

But I think Dimi’s 972 post demands a uniformity of response from the left that isn’t appropriate.  This is a complicated issue, not one that is cut and dried.

Several readers have attempted to publish links to photographs of the victims as if this will somehow turn the world against the Palestinian cause and show the world the true evil nature of the Palestinians.  I will not allow such links to be posted here just as I will not post similar pictures of Arab child victims (though I have posted pictures of the Fogels while they were alive as I do think we should see them as individual human beings).  This is the visual pornography of hate.  You can find it elsewhere, but not here.

This article first appeared at Tikun Olam

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Richard Silverstein

Richard Silverstein is an author, journalist and blogger, with articles appearing in Haaretz, the Jewish Forward, Los Angeles Times, the Guardian’s Comment Is Free, Al Jazeera English, and Alternet. His work has also been in the Seattle Times, American Conservative Magazine, Beliefnet and Tikkun Magazine, where he is on the advisory board. Check out Silverstein's blog at Tikun Olam, one of the earliest liberal Jewish blogs, which he has maintained since February, 2003.

One thought on “Itamar: Turning Victims Into National Blood Sacrifices

  • March 28, 2011 at 5:38 pm
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    It’s a shame that we are continually confronted by Jews advocating the destruction of the State of Israel and the destruction of being Jewish, and yes this is what you are saying in this divisive, almost hatred you are spewing out.

    Reply

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