I couldn’t sleep last night.  I made the decision to look at the photos of the murdered Fogel family of Itamar late in the evening and spent most of the rest of the night and early morning completely freaked out and wide-eyed, listening for intruders.

If you’re not familiar with why Itamar and the Fogel family are in the news, you’re in good company.  There hasn’t been much coverage of the murders here in the U.S. due unfortunately, yet understandably, to the disaster in Japan which is the priority for most cable and network news outlets.   Thankfully, many on the web are reporting this story-a story so horrible, it defies explanation. 

I’ll provide a brief summary of the incident: Last week, someone-suspected to be a member of the Al Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigade, the terrorist wing of the Fatah party–broke into the West Bank home of Udi and Ruth Fogel (Jewish settlers) and proceeded to murder them by knife-slitting their throats and stabbing them.  Five family members were murdered; along with the Udi and Ruth, three of their six children-ages 10, 4, and 3 months.

The pictures will haunt me.  I’m certainly not used to seeing that sort of thing.  In short, it was a bloodbath.  It simply doesn’t get more horrific or unnatural than looking at a baby with her throat cut-her body so white because the blood has entirely drained from her tiny body; a sweet baby boy-only 4 years old–with deep knife wounds to his chest; and a ten year old-who clearly tried to fight off his attackers–splayed weirdly on his twin-sized bed, blood pooling at his feet.  The father, Udi Fogel, was on the bed next to his baby girl, his throat slashed and his head arched upward as if he was gasping for breath.  Udi, his wife Ruth and their 3-month old daughter died together in the same bed. 

My husband and I often sleep with our newborn-not recommended by the experts, of course, but out of sheer desperation to get some sleep.  I imagined them that final night, cuddling with their new baby girl without any knowledge of the brutality that would befall them hours later.

The parents of Udi Fogel allowed the government to release the photos so that others would perhaps better understand the dangers facing the settlers in Gaza. 

And while I understand some lack of coverage given the disaster in Japan, what I don’t understand is how the news chooses to ignore how the townspeople in the nearby Palestinian town of Rafah reacted to the butchering of the Fogel family-by dancing in the streets and passing out candy.  

Wall Street Journal’s Bret Stephensasks if these people even consider Israeli settlers human? Asked for their reaction to the murders, one resident of Rafah said it was “natural.”

Unquestionably pleased are residents of the Palestinian town of Rafah in the Gaza Strip, who “hit the streets Saturday to celebrate the terror attack” and “handed out candy and sweets,” according to the Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth. The paper quoted one Rafah resident saying the massacre was “a natural response to the harm settlers inflict on the Palestinian residents in the West Bank.” Just what kind of society thinks it’s “natural” to slit the throats of children in their beds?

The answer: The same society that has named summer camps, soccer tournaments and a public square in Ramallah after Dalal Mughrabi, a Palestinian woman who in March 1978 killed an American photographer and hijacked a pair of Israeli buses, leading to the slaughter of 37 Israeli civilians, 13 children among them.

I have a feeling that years from now Palestinians will look back and wonder: How did we allow ourselves to become that? If and when that happens-though not until that happens-Palestinians and Israelis will at long last be able to live alongside each other in genuine peace and security.

But I also wonder whether a similar question will ever occur to the Palestinian movement’s legion of fellow travelers in the West. To wit, how did they become so infatuated with a cause that they were willing to ignore its crimes-or, if not quite ignore them, treat them as no more than a function of the supposedly infinitely greater crime of Israeli occupation? 

Consider the reaction of the people of Rafah who are celebrating the near beheading of a baby and the deaths of these innocent people.  Consider the dancing and the passing out of candy.  And then consider how the people of Itamar-the neighbors, friends, colleagues, students and family of the Fogel family-are reacting.  With promises of death and violence and retribution? 


If someone is expecting a revenge attack or “price tag” – they won’t find it here, at the yeshiva where Fogel taught, whose chief rabbi is Avihai Ronski, the former IDF Chief Rabbi.  “These people don’t go out and demonstrate, that’s not their style,” says Yohanan Goldin, a 24-year-old sixth-year yeshiva student. Goldin was close to Fogel, and was part of the community security team that was called in to find that Fogel was killed.

A day and a half after the attack, Goldin feels the need to improve the public image of the community, and perhaps the yeshiva, as well. “‘Price tags” are not the way of the yeshiva,” he said.  Goldin’s friend, fifth-year yeshiva student Itamar Brooker, says, “Anger does not interest us, people aren’t hung up on that. There is pain, there is shock, but not anger. Personally, I still haven’t taken it in. A family has been stabbed to death, it will take time to register.”

In the evening, after the funeral, the residents gathered for a meeting. Pinchas Michaeli, the village youth coordinator, told Haaretz about children that are not willing to sleep in their own beds since the attack. Michaeli adds, “The youth want to act, express themselves. We want to channel it into positive directions.” Are these mere declarations? No, Michaeli responds. In Itamar, they are now talking about building a new neighborhood in memory of those murdered. 

There’s a very good chance I’m not going to be sleeping anytime soon after seeing the photos of the Fogel family but I’m glad I saw them (you can look at them here–WARNING: EXTREMELY GRAPHIC). It’s important to know what the Israeli people are up against, the dangers the settlers face, and the fact that these are who the Israelis have to sit down with during peace talks.

And make no mistake; officials in Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ government encourage this terrorist, murderous behavior.  Chana Ya’ar of Israel National News provides some examples:

On the day before the brutal slaying of the Fogel family, Sabri Saidam, denounced the low monthly stipends to families of terrorists who murder Israelis. He also called for the naming of another public square in honor of Dalal Mughrabi, the bloodthirsty terrorist who led the 1978 Coastal Road massacre that left dozens of Israelis dead, including 13 children.

One week priorto the brutal attack on the Fogel family, the Fatah faction led by Abbas held a ceremony at the Deheisheh neighborhood of Bethlehem, honoring suicide bombers.

Two months prior to the Fogel murder, PA Chairman and Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas awarded $2,000 to the family of a terrorist who attacked and attempted to murder IDF soldiers.

On January 2, the Al Hayat Al Jadidanewspaper reported a speech by Azzam Al-Ahmed, a member of the Fatah Central Committee, which expressed the PA government’s support for terrorism as a means of “resistance.” 

 On October 26, 2010, PA TV broadcast a documentary about the work of PA medical teams that included an entirely fictitious scene in which an Israeli soldier shoots a PA Arab in the head.

On June 21, 2010, a children’s program was broadcast on the official PA TV channel which taught that “The Jews are our enemies,” and that “Israeli soldiers are wild animals.”