Monday, March 14, 2011

Itamar: Already, The Aftermath

The Netanyahu government has announced that, in response to the murders at Itamar, it would build 500 new housing units in the territories. Mourning for the victims has barely begun, but the government has already managed to desecrate their memory.

What is the statement the government is making, after all? Is it not that the murders were nothing but another Palestinian assault in a land war, to be answered with a Jewish counter-assault? Is this framing not precisely what the murderers would have us believe, namely, that sneaking into a settlement to kill sleeping children was a vaguely heroic act of resistance against occupation, indeed, that children are just incipient instances of their parents' ideology?

What the murderers do not want us to believe was that this was actually (as President Abbas said today) a crime against humanity. Apparently, Netanyahu does not want us to thinking too much about humanity as such. That would raise other questions, especially about the universal rights humans need to make the most of their individual powers and the protections they need from others' greed, wishful thinking and hypocrisy. (“Jews are members of the human race,” as Philip Roth once put it; “Worse than that I cannot say about them.”)

Imagine if, in response to the killings of his daughters by reckless Israeli gunners, Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish had called for revenge against "Jews" and not (as at J Street) called for compassion and non-violence; imagine if the Palestine Authority had called for throwing Israel into the sea? There is already a video being circulated by settlers' blogs--predictable in its pathos, the strains of "Schindler's List" in the background--showing the appalling scenes at Itamar, and ending with the question "These are our partners?"

No, this act was no more a "Palestinian" act than the shelling of the Abuelaish apartment was an "Israeli" one, though all Palestinians believe Itamar is a crime, and all Israelis believe lobbing missiles into Sderot is. The real partners are those who insist that terror is a response to tyranny and tyranny is a response to terror. Their death dance, as the excellent Haaretz editorial implied this morning, is wonderfully synchronous.