On the murders at Itamar

To say that I am appalled by the brutal murder of an Israeli family in the West Bank settlement of Itamar (near Nablus) is an understatement. Israel's occupation of the West Bank is universally recognized as a violation of international law and depends on force, intimidation, and violence, but there is no justification for anyone to take the lives of an entire family in this way. No good can possibly come from such a senseless act -- not for Palestinians, not for Israelis, and not for anyone else -- and it should be universally condemned.

But while we are at it, we should not spare the other parties who have helped create and perpetuate the circumstances where such crimes are likely to occur. 

Let us therefore condemn every Israeli government since 1967, for actively promoting the illegal effort to colonize these lands. 

Let us condemn those Palestinian leaders who have glorified violence in the past or who continue to do so today. 

Let us condemn the settlers themselves, some of whom routinely use violence to intimidate the Palestinians who live in the lands they covet.

Let us condemn Israel's policy of targeted assassinations and the war crimes it has committed in Gaza and Lebanon. 

Let us condemn the hypocrisy of governments throughout the Arab world, who mouth solidarity with the Palestinians yet do little to improve their lives or advance the goal of an independent Palestinian state.   

Let us condemn the craven passivity of U.S. politicians, whose deference to the Israel lobby has enabled the occupation for more than four decades, squandered the opportunity afforded by the Oslo Accords, and undermined efforts to create a viable Palestinian state.

Let us condemn the misguided fervor of Christian Zionists, who turn a blind eye to injustice against the Palestinians in the belief that it will hasten the "end times" tomorrow. 

Let us condemn the cynicism of the Netanyahu government, which used this latest tragedy to announce the construction of 500 more housing units in the Occupied Territories. 

And those of us who still hope for a two-state solution deserve criticism as well, for we have clearly not done enough to make that hopeful vision a reality.

Whoever wielded the knife in Itamar deserves to be condemned, caught, and punished for this reprehensible act.  But let us not forget that many people bear responsibility for creating and perpetuating this conflict, and all of them should feel shame at this latest episode.

Postscript: For a thoughtful reflection on the incident from an Israeli peace activist, see Dimi Reider here. 


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