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MEIRAV, the 2-year-old, had been strapped into a car seat for safety. But car seats are no protection against bullets, and by the time rescue workers reached the Citroen station wagon, Meirav was dead of multiple gunshot wounds to the head. So was her 7-year-old sister, Roni. And Hadar, the 9-year-old. And Hila, 11. One by one, each had been shot at point-blank range.
In the driver's seat, their mother was dead, too. Tali Hatuel, 34, was a social worker who was often called upon to comfort and assist victims of terrorism. Eight months pregnant with her first boy, she had been driving to Ashkelon on Sunday for an ultrasound exam. Then she and the girls had planned to join her husband, David, at an election precinct to urge voters to oppose the controversial Israeli referendum on unilaterally "disengaging" from the Gaza Strip.
But David never saw his wife and daughters alive again. He buried them Sunday evening, sobbing with grief and surrounded by thousands of mourners in Ashkelon's new cemetery. "You were my flowers," he wept. "I am all alone and there is no one left."
Not long after the slaughter of the Hatuel family, two terror groups -- Islamic Jihad and the Popular Resistance Committee -- proudly claimed responsibility in a call to the Associated Press. The Voice of Palestine radio praised the quintuple murder as a "heroic" operation against "five settlers," not bothering to mention that the victims were an unarmed pregnant woman and four children or that their bodies had been riddled with bullets fired at close range.
The savagery of the attack was similarly downplayed by National Public Radio in its broadcast the next morning. Actually, reporter Julie McCarthy did more than minimize the horror of the massacre. She blamed the victims for "provoking" their own murder -- not by anything they did but by their mere "presence" in the disputed territory.
The settlers were rallying to defeat the Gaza pullout referendum, McCarthy reported, "saying Israel was withdrawing under fire. But there was ample evidence yesterday to show that their continued presence in Gaza is provoking bloodshed. Israeli troops shot dead two Palestinian gunmen after the men ambushed a mother and her four small daughters outside the Gaza settlement of Gush Katif. The family was shot and killed on their way to the Israeli city of Ashkelon."
In NPR's warped moral calculus, Tali Hatuel and her children are in early graves not because Palestinian culture celebrates the mass murder of Jews but because Jews have no business living among Arabs. If McCarthy had been reporting from Birmingham in September 1963, would she have blamed the bombing of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church on the provocative "presence" of the four black girls who died in the explosion?
The Hatuels opposed Ariel Sharon's proposed Gaza pullout because they understood that unilaterally surrendering land to Hamas and the PLO could only result in more terror and bloodshed, not less. If the past decade -- the era of the "land for peace" delusion -- has made anything clear, it is that the more Israel concedes to the Palestinians, the worse Palestinian terror becomes. Abandoning Gaza will not make the Arabs more peaceful. It will simply strengthen their conviction that Israelis can be defeated through terrorism and make Gaza a more effective staging-area for attacks on Jews.
Notwithstanding the defeat of Sunday's referendum, Sharon says he still intends to go forward with his "disengagement" from Gaza. That presumably will mean the uprooting of some 8,000 Gazan Jews from the homes, farms, and schools they have built over the past quarter-century. The State Department and the UN will cheer the sight of Gaza being ethnically cleansed of its Jewish population -- being rendered "Judenrein," as the Nazis used to say. But having approved Sharon's expulsion of Jews from territory largely occupied by Arabs, what will they say if he then proposes to expel Arabs from places whose majority is Jewish?
Arab-Israeli peace will not be won by dragging people kicking and screaming from their homes. Nor will it be won by giving land and statehood to the gangsters who run Hamas and Fatah.
The only workable recipe for lasting Middle East peace is the difficult one of remaking Palestinian society from the bottom up. Of destroying its poisonous culture of violence, death-worship, and Jew-hatred. Of educating its people for democracy and tolerance. Of replacing its cruel and corrupt rulers with leaders genuinely committed to moderation.
Only when -- only if -- such a transformation takes place will the Palestinians be ready for statehood. To confer sovereignty on them now would be disastrous, a guarantee of violence for years to come. If there is one thing a regime that can call the execution of a mother and her four daughters "heroic" doesn't need, it is a reward.
This article was written in 1968 and published in the Los Angeles Times on May 26 of that year. Eric Hoffer (1902-1983) was an American social philosopher who wrote nine books and won the Presidential Medal of Freedom. His first book, The True Believer, published in 1951, was widely recognized as a classic.
The Jews are a peculiar people: things permitted to other nations are forbidden to the Jews.
Other nations drive out thousands, even millions of people and there is no refugee problem. Russian did it, Poland and Czechoslovakia did it, Turkey threw out a million Greeks, and Algeria a million Frenchmen. Indonesia threw out heaven knows how many Chinese - and no one says a word about refugees.
But in the case of Israel, the displaced Arabs have become eternal refugees.
Everyone insists that Israel must take back every single Arab. Arnold Toynbee calls the displacement of the Arabs an atrocity greater than any committed by the Nazis.
Other nations when victorious on the battlefield dictate peace terms.
But when Israel is victorious it must sue for peace. Everyone expects the Jews to be the only real Christians in this world.
Other nations when they are defeated survive and recover, but should Israel be defeated it would be destroyed. Had Nasser triumphed last June he would have wiped Israel off the map, and no one would have lifted a finger to save the Jews.
No commitment to the Jews by any government, including our own, is worth the paper it is written on. There is a cry of outrage all over the world when people die in Vietnam or when two Negroes are executed in Rhodesia. But when Hitler slaughtered Jews no one remonstrated with him.
The Swedes, who are ready to break off diplomatic relations with America because of what we do in Vietnam, did not let out a peep when Hitler was slaughtering Jews. They sent Hitler choice iron ore, and ball bearings, and serviced his troop trains to Norway.
The Jews are alone in the world. If Israel survives, it will be solely because of Jewish efforts. And Jewish resources.
Yet at this moment Israel is our only reliable and unconditional ally.
We can rely more on Israel than Israel can rely on us. And one has only to imagine what would have happened last summer had the Arabs and their Russian backers won the war to realize how vital the survival of Israel is to America and the West in general.
I have a premonition that will not leave me; as it goes with Israel, so will it go with all of us. Should Israel perish, the holocaust will be upon us.
People wonder how the world has gotten into such a mess. The answer is simple, as is the remedy. Unfortunately, implementing the remedy may not be so simple, because it goes against the behaviors with which we in the civilized world have been so insidiously inculcated.
Back before the insular academic community had so much influence in areas about which they know nothing, war was a bad thing. The consequences of instigating a war were particularly bad if the instigator lost. I remember the good old days when waging war meant loads of civilian casualties, utter destruction of property in the path of combat and horrific outcomes for the loser. These were the realities that made war a thing to avoid. Hirohito immediately conceded when he saw the consequences of an atomic enema administered to Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
Loss of sovereignty, loss of territory, loss of rights, loss of life, loss of assets - these are all reasons to avoid war. Take away these consequences and waging war is a win-win situation. If you win, you win, and if you lose, you lose nothing and may actually gain something. Want a prime example? The Middle East on two fronts, Iraq and Israel, which actually have some of the same problems.
Let's start with the first politically correct, kinder and gentler war in the history of the world. The time was 1991, the war was with Iraq, and the players' names were Saddam, Bush and Colin Powell. For the first time ever, one side of the warring parties did not try to wipe out the other side. The United States, at the behest of the United Nations (read: Islamist-controlled United Nations), did not wipe out Saddam, but let him live to menace and massacre another day. The US also did not wreak punishing attacks on the instigator of the Gulf War -- Iraq -- thus letting the world know that invading another country was no longer such a risky business.
Fast-forward 12 years. Despite three elections, even the player's names are the same: Bush, Powell and Saddam. In the US' 'war on terror' (which is a defeatist war, since terror is merely the symptom; the true enemy is radical Islam) America determined Saddam to be a threat. After fair warning for Saddam to step down, we invaded Iraq and performed a Saddamectomy. Unfortunately, Saddam, like any other tyrant, does not operate in a vacuum. In America's ill-founded goal of making this as painless a war as possible, we left in place the entire war machine that supported Saddam. We are reaping the consequences of that now.
The Islamists now attacking the Iraqi reconstruction forces were given a roadmap to the civilized world's Achilles heel. This weakness is our desire to make war as nice and people-friendly as possible. We shudder at the thought that anyone but our very specific target may get hurt. We try to minimize collateral damage. We go out of our way to insure the rights, the well-being, and the sensibilities of everyone, including our enemy.
So the Islamists now use our abhorrence of true warfare against us. They go out of their way to create horror and collateral damage. They don't merely capture soldiers, they torture and kill them and then mutilate the bodies (this has been done to Israeli soldiers, too). They also have no consideration for their fellow countrymen. If we hadn't been so nice when we were engaging the enemy, the coalition forces, as well as whatever innocent population remains, would not be undergoing round two of the war now.
Then there is Israel. In an effort to appease misplaced international sensibilities, Israel has been making concessions to the losers/aggressors in all the wars she was forced to fight. Egypt attacked her, lost territory and was given it back in a peace treaty that Egypt breaks on a daily basis with anti-Semitic lies and propaganda. The Arabs now occupying Israeli land that she won when she was attacked are given royal treatment by the world as downtrodden victims. And these people were the aggressors.
Now the world insists that Israel give the very people who are trying, through an asymmetrical war, to wreak genocide upon her land, a portion of which she won when she was attacked. This is rewarding war and rewarding the aggressors. Meanwhile, Israel, instead of stopping this 60-year war with extreme prejudice -- which would probably end the war once and for all -- is prolonging it by being 'nice' to the enemy. Israel provides her enemy's citizens (who support the war by an overwhelming majority) with electricity, water, jobs, even medical services when necessary. Therefore, the aggressor in this war has no reason for stopping it. And, as if treating the instigators of war in a kind way is not enough, the world wants Israel to reward her attackers with their own country in the heart of Israeli territory. Again, rewarding warmongers and encouraging more of the same.
If you have any suspicions that the aggressors (Arabs living in Jewish Palestine) have any legitimate claims to back up their genocidal war upon Israel, one of their own leaders makes it very clear that they do not. PLO executive committee member Zahir Muhsein, in an interview with the Dutch newspaper Trouw (on March 31, 1977) stated:
"The Palestinian people does not exist. The creation of a Palestinian state is only a means for continuing our struggle against the state of Israel for our Arab unity. In reality, today there is no difference between Jordanians, Palestinians, Syrians and Lebanese. Only for political and tactical reasons do we speak today about the existence of a Palestinian people, since Arab national interests demand that we posit the existence of a distinct 'Palestinian people' to oppose Zionism."Making war a nice thing is the last thing we should be doing if we want to prevent war. It is also the fast track to losing, even though you've already won.
When women, children and the defenseless members of a society are ambushed and murdered in cold blood, what's a nation to do?
Well, the Jewish people have received our marching orders and instructions directly from the Almighty Himself. "Remember"? (Parashat Zachor)
If you're waiting for salvation to come from the likes of Kofi Annan, Jack Straw and George Bush, well, don't hold your breath. Seems like a lot of us are still waiting for the Allied forces to bomb the tracks.
The heavens must be truly be perplexed. I mean, G-d has given us the potential and means to be one of the most effective and motivated military powers in the world. But it seems that we have chosen to embrace death and victimhood, rather than cherish and fight for life.
We are a people who have had more than enough time to intensely examine and reflect on the consequences of destruction and exile. More than any other nation, it is our scholars, writers and greatest thinkers who have obsessed on morbidity, mortality and morality. And through the worst of times, we have consistently drawn the conclusion that we must choose and fight for life.
So what has happened?
Our generation has witnessed and participated in a desecration of unknown proportions on a metaphysical level. We have stood by and watched silently at what is clearly forbidden. "Don't stand by your brother's blood." (Leviticus 19:16) In some measure, the atrocities we are witnessing may surpass that of the Holocaust, because we have the means at our disposal to stop the catastrophe; whereas, sixty-plus years ago, we were defenseless.
Anybody who pats themselves on the back for taking the time to shoot-off an email to the heads of the European Union should think again. When our sincere and tireless efforts manage to elicit a veiled response like "Such attacks do nothing whatsoever to advance the Palestinian cause," one has to wonder. What, pray tell, is the Palestinian cause? Is it to destroy every Jewish man, woman and child? Is it to grant territorial integrity and legitimacy to the concept of Hell? Perhaps it's both. Surely, it must be time to redirect our efforts and place our rage at the doorsteps of the Knesset, and to place our military might at the entrance to Ramallah.
With great finesse, Likud members and Yesha activists directed a well-orchestrated campaign and managed to vote down the "disengagement" plan, while at the same time, being ever so careful to prop up an incompetent Prime Minister. The strategy worked brilliantly, but the victory was more bitter than sweet. And I wonder if the precious souls of a mother and her five children (we can include an almost full-term baby, can't we?) will ever be avenged.
It is beyond all tragedy and cynicism to realize that if Ariel Sharon were to pull the plug on Arafat tomorrow, his reasoning would most likely be for political expediency. Is it not forbidden for our elected representatives to sit in this government?
It seems that we as a people will continue to suffer bitter-sweet victories, because our policies reflect that same duality. We rely heavily on G-d's unending mercy, but have reneged on our part of the bargain.
Until our leadership vacuum can be filled and we fulfill our obligations, some of us will continue to die unspeakably senseless and brutal deaths. Others will continue to look away, because the very thought and images of what transpired at the Kissufim junction this week could cause one to die of a broken heart.
"Tali, I love you so much. I already miss you and feel so alone. The whole family is gone. At least one could have been left. But not even one is left. Tali was in her ninth month. We knew it was a son. We were happy and were waiting to enjoy the family, but it has all been cut short. I want to ask you and the girls for forgiveness for not spending enough time with you. You are my flowers and I will not forget you."- David Hatuel, standing over the graves of his wife and four daughters after they were murdered by "Palestinian" terrorists Sunday, May 1.
Expressions of sympathy for David Hatuel of Katif can be sent to him via his neighbor, Irit Ben-Aryeh, whose email address is email@example.com
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