The brutal murder of Udi and Ruth Fogel and three of their children in Itamar, a village in the Samarian hills, has been met by the international media either with callous disregard or a perverse inclination to explain it away as the result of the so-called Israeli “occupation.”
The BBC gave scant coverage to the slaughter, initially professing a subtly displaced skepticism of the terrorist nature of the attack. “Israel suspects the attack was carried out by Palestinian militants,” the Bebe opines. Note the key verb “suspects” instead of “knows” and the word “militants” instead of the more accurate “terrorists.” The Los Angeles Times engaged in its own brand of whitewash, citing a “tit-for-tat mentality” and deciding that it is “completely impossible to say with any authority who began the hostilities or to distinguish actions from reaction”—an instance of either blatant ignorance or glaring bad faith. According to the paper, the killings were perpetrated “presumably by Palestinian militants.” Similarly, CNN originally put the term terrorist attack in quotation marks; after all, it’s only a presumption. Time Magazine characterizes the terrorists as “gunmen” and the settlers as “extremist,” and approvingly quotes the anti-Israeli “human rights” organization B’Tselem which speaks simply of “mutual violence.” The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, for its part, devoted all of half a minute to the atrocity, concentrating on Israeli settlement construction. This is just a sample of the kind of media accounting we have gotten used to by now. When not heaping the onus of guilt upon Israel and laundering Palestinian savagery, the press is content to let the matter die with the Fogels.
Nevertheless, the gory details of the massacre are well enough known by this time. Much of the horror of the event felt by people of integrity, people capable of empathy, naturally focuses on three-month old Hadas whose throat was slashed by the terrorists. This does not make the gruesome murder of the father, the mother and the other two children any more assimilable, but the wilful slaughtering of an infant in her bed stands out as a particularly heinous and unfathomable act of unmitigated barbarism, the expression of a culture that has often pronounced itself as loving death more than it loves life. Indeed, it can cynically sacrifice its own children to the Moloch of a religious and political imperative as readily as it kills the children of its enemy.
Somehow, far too many of us have not managed to realize what we are dealing with and plainly not what the Israelis have to face as an intrinsic part of their daily experience, whether in Sderot which has been on the receiving end of thousands of Hamas rockets or in Itamar where a young family has been pitilessly cut down. Moreover, by insisting on the “cycle of violence” meme and in trying to apportion blame evenly, we have made ourselves complicit with the bestiality we would not for a moment tolerate were it visited upon our own families.
One notes, for example, a stock difference in the reporting of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict by the media in general, especially when it comes to the suffering of children. Twelve-year-old Muhammad al-Durah, reportedly killed by the Israelis in a shootout between the IDF and Palestinian “irregulars” near the Netzarim Junction in Gaza on September 30, 2000, became an iconic figure, an international cause célèbre and a prime illustration of the media and official complot against Israel. Following a decade-long investigation by the indefatigable Philippe Karsenty, it is now clear that the episode was rehearsed, directed and staged with the collusion of French TV and Palestinian stringers and cameramen.