Sunday, March 13, 2011

Israel's Gabrielle Giffords Moment

On Saturday evening, Udi Fogel, 36, Ruth Fogel, 35, and their three children were murdered in their sleep in what is believed to be a terrorist attack. Their children were Yoav, 11, Elad, 4, and Hadas. Hadas was three months old. Three of their children remain alive. For anyone who would downplay the horror of this attack because the people involved were settlers, I invite you to view the graphic pictures of the victim's mutilated bodies. The frailty of their beings is a harsh reminder of the frailty of human life, and the ease with which it can be stolen away.

This moment is a "Gabrielle Giffords" moment in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. A point at which we step back and realize the very real human toll the rhetoric and partisanship has on very real human beings. The deaths of five innocent people should shock us out of the complacency with which we throw around rhetoric, and command a refocusing on the people affected by this conflict.

Instead, the murders of the Fogel family is being spun for political gain.

While the Palestinian Authority has condemned the attack and offered assistance in finding the culprits, it turns a blind eye to continuing incitement against Israel and has already accused the Israeli government of incitement of its own over the attack.

The Netanyahu administration, for its part, has approved 500 new settlements. Chief Rabbi of Israel Yona Metzger evidently approves of this position because he said so - at the family's funeral. Interior Minister Eli Yishai stated that Israel should build 1000 settlements for every person murdered. The Prime Minister himself demanded a response from the international community, criticizing the UN security council for its double standards. Finally, the Government Press Office criticized CNN for referring to the attack as a 'terror attack' in quotations in the title of an article. Evidently, at this time of national tragedy, the Press Office's efforts are best spent picking a grammar fight with CNN.

There will be plenty of time for politicization in the coming weeks. Using tragedy for political gain is nothing new, and certainly not in the Middle East. But the Fogel family, we can safely assume, were decent human beings. They deserve decency and respect as the country buries and mourns them, not political pandering.

Regardless of where it originates, left, right, or center, this shameless partisanship literally over the dead bodies of five citizens is illegitimate. It is a despicable disrespect of the lives lost, and it divides those involved when unity over common humanity is what the Middle East requires now more than ever.


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