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Roger’s Rules

Naming the Dead

March 13th, 2011 - 8:01 am

The world’s attention has been riveted by the horrendous natural disaster in Japan. Naoto Kan, the Japanese prime minister, somberly described the damage wrought by the shattering earthquake and tsunami the nation’s “worst crisis since World War II.”

That tragedy — and no one can watch the video footage of what happened in northern Japan without a feeling of horror — is everywhere in the news. Another story, smaller in scale, but no less horrific, has received scant notice.  Late Friday night, some yet-to-be-identified people — the sort of people President Obama would doubtless describe as “lone extremists” — cut their way through a security fence and entered the Israeli town of Itamar in the West Bank. They then broke into the house of Udi and Ruth Fogel (36 and 35 years old, respectively), and stabbed them to death along with their 3-month-old daughter, Hadas, and two sons, Elad (3 years old) and Yoav (11).

I first heard about this disgusting act of barbarism from a headline on the Drudge Report. The New York Times, which really never disappoints, today carries a piece under the title “Israel Approves Settlement Construction.” Five members of  “an Israeli family” — antiseptically left unnamed by the Times — were knifed to death in their sleep but the gravamen of the story was that the Israelis responded by deciding to build more settlements on the West Bank, a decision, our former paper of record sniffed, that “the attack and the government response threatened to drive Israeli-Palestinian peacemaking even further out of reach.”

What’s wrong with this picture? The dwindling prospects of “Israeli-Palestinian peacemaking” is not equally the fault of that butchery and Israel’s decision to build more settlements, as the Times implies. That sort of moral equivalence is in fact a moral outrage. But it is standard operating procedure for the New York Times and indeed for much Western media who occasionally leave off playing “blame America first” only to indulge in an inning or two of “blame Israel first.”

Scott Johnson at Powerline posts a wrenching video about the massacre of the Fogel family, noting that it had been available on YouTube and Facebook but had, without explanation, been removed.

Melanie Phillips, writing at The Spectator blog gets it exactly right:

What must be emphasised however is that, quite apart from the open calls to genocide of the Jews by Hamas, as Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu has said the “wild incitement” by the Palestinian Authority against Israelis, perpetrated without remission through its educational materials, in its mosques and on PA-controlled TV, is directly to blame for creating the incendiary atmosphere of hysterical and fanatical hatred that gives rise to such savagery.

And it’s not only Hamas. It is also us — us Western liberals who somehow manage to turn a blind eye to such butchery. “Responsibility for the evil atmosphere which incites such pogroms does not rest solely with the Arabs of the PA or Hamas,” Phillips observes. “It must also be laid at the door of those left-wing Israeli and western journalists and intellectuals who are obsessively egging on these Jew-hating exterminators. . . .  The Arab incitement is simply not reported by the western media.” Item: the murder of the Fogel family came just days after a West Bank Palestinian youth center  announced a soccer tournament named after Wafa Idris.  And who is Wafa Idris?  Why, she’s the first female Palestinian suicide bomber.  She killed an 81-year-old man and injured more than 150 other Israelis in 2002. Hadn’t heard about her? Neither had I until Melanie Phillips linked to the story. The Palestinian Authority, another story reports,  “has repeatedly presented Wafa Idris as a hero and role model, naming places and events after her, including a summer camp for youth funded by UNICEF, a Fatah women’s military unit, a university students group for Fatah members, a Fatah course, and more. There have been public demonstrations and songs on PA TV to honor her.” How would you feel about honoring Timothy McVeigh, perpetrator of the Oklahoma City bombing, with similar accolades?

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