Crocodick Tears

One person to have taken the news of the murder of ISM tool Vittorio Arrigoni to heart is anti-Israel Wikileak-wannabe, Richard Silverstein.

He's not smiling now

I don’t know how to write this post.  There are some things about this conflict that make no sense.  There are some things about this conflict that are just plain evil. Today, Hamas security forces found the body of Vittorio Arrigoni, an International Solidarity Movement activist, in an abandoned house in Gaza.  He’d been kidnapped by a Salafist group, whose leader had been arrested by Hamas last month.  The kidnappers said Vittorio would be killed if their leaders wasn’t released, and by God, they were true to their word.

Vittorio arrived in Gaza in 2008 aboard a boat bringing humanitarian supplies and attempting to break Israel’s Gaza blockade.  He was utterly dedicated to the cause of Palestinian freedom.

Does it make sense to kill a family of five in Itamar, including babies?  Does it make any sense to kill an Italian pacifist who devoted his life to the Palestinian cause?  Does it make any sense to kill a gifted Israeli-Palestinian theater director dedicated to using culture to fight for Palestine?  What kind of world do these killers want?  Do they want to eat their own young like some wild animals?  Do they want to return the human race to darkness?

Vittorio’s killers, what can one say about them?  Let these odious people speak for themselves and let the world judge for itself regarding what they represent:

“The Italian hostage entered our land only to spread corruption.” It described Italy as “the infidel state.”

What do these people want?  That Palestinians should eat locusts and live in caves?  Would that satisfy them?  Do they think anyone will care for the Palestine they envision?  Or Muslim Caliphate or whatever?  They are beasts.  I don’t know which emotion I should give freer reign: rage or sorrow.

Of course, the Israeli far-right will be dancing the hora with this news.  It will be plastered in big headlines across Rotter, Debka Files and the like, not to mention the nutcase blogs we all know. This will confirm every prejudice they hold, reinforce every fear every Israeli might have.  It doesn’t matter that the Salafists are a tiny group within Gaza.  It doesn’t matter that Hamas has waged implacable battle against them before and killed many of their members. In situations like this people don’t look for nuance.  They see blood and blood speaks louder than words or thought.

* Thanks to Lawrence of Cyberia for quoting this “Thought of the Day” at Vittorio’s blog, Guerilla Radio.  May this quotation stand as a testament for the thoughtfulness, love and valor of international peace activists like Vittorio Arrigoni (Alav ha-shalom).  They cannot kill peace, they cannot kill love.  They can kill a man, but they cannot kill what he believes especially if others follow in his path.

I cannot ever remember crying while I wrote a post.  I am close to doing so now.

So the death of this one man who decided to live in Gaza amongst civilians and terrorists alike has almost brought Silverstein to tears, a phenomenon he cannot even remember happening before. In contrast, Silverstein was far from crying when he wrote this response to the massacre of a Jewish family in Itamar (including young children and a baby):

Today, the specter of death stalks the settlement of Itamar. A Palestinian militant penetrated the security barriers intended to protect the residents and broke into a home of the sleeping Fogel family and stabbed to death the parents and three of their children, leaving behind three young orphans. It is a heinous, savage crime. The crime of a Palestinian terrorist bent on avenging blood. The kind of crime for which the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has become known, notoriously so.

This is a crime that takes us back to the bloody civil wars and genocidal tribal conflict of the Bible.  It is a crime perpetrated by someone who doesn’t believe a grievance can be expressed any other way, doesn’t believe there is any hope of resolving the conflict.  The killer not only hates all settlers, he probably hates his own leadership and blames them as much for being unable to deliver a victory for the Palestinian people.

This is a crime that reinforces the worst hatreds on both sides.  Some Palestinians, hopefully only a few, will feel pride that a blow has been struck to avenge the innocent Palestinian blood spilt by Israel’s armed forces, and even settlers like those of Itamar and the more radical extremist settlements like Tapuach and Yitzhar.  Some Israelis and Diaspora Jews will, in their pain bray for the blood of the killers: an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth.  No one in such circumstances will have the presence of mind to remember Martin Luther King’s warning that such cycles of violence leave us all toothless and blind.

A perfect example is Rabbi Yishaya Rotter, owner of Rotter, Israel’s most popular internet gossip forum (a combination of Gawker, TMZ and Drudge Report), who calls implicitly in a forum editorial for mass pogroms against West Bank Palestinians, calling them “children of death, every one of whom wishes to kill us.”  He excuses himself from legal culpability by saying he’s not taking action himself, only expressing an opinion.  Which of course will constitute “wild incitement” for his settler followers to extract many pounds of flesh and pints of blood from their Palestinian enemy.  Rotter further spouts such inflammatory nonsense as the claim that settlers must take matters into their own hands because the current Israeli government (that is, the one run by Bibi Netanyahu and the far-right Likud) is “under the thumb of the far-left” and their media hacks who “justify such murders;” along with “obtuse courts of justice who mistakenly believe this country is Holland or Belgium.”  What is truly needed, Rotter claims, is “all out war.”

Terror attacks like this allow the worst of each side to sit back smugly and say: I told you so.  Another example: Bibi Netanyahu’s ignorant, hateful laying of blame on the Palestinian Authority for the crime instead of on his own security forces (who control and patrol the territory surrounding the settlement):

Benjamin Netanyahu, pointed a finger at the Palestinian Authority, blaming it for what he described as incitement in the mosques and by the Palestinian Authority-controlled news media. According to a statement by his office, Mr. Netanyahu said, “A society that permits such wild incitement is one that eventually brings about the murder of children.”

The PA does not have any responsibility for this area as it is outside Area C, the only territory the PA does control  and patrol.  In fact, Haaretz today makes clear that a major ISRAELI security breach and communications snafu allowed this grisly series of murders.

This killer did not kill because anyone on his side told him to.  He didn’t kill because of wild incitement, unless you count the tens of thousands of Palestinian civilians killed by the IDF as “wild incitement.”  He killed because he has seen his own people slaughtered over the course of decades of Occupation; because he felt himself and his people powerless to do anything about it.

Make no mistake, I do not justify cold-blooded murder as happened in Itamar.  But I don’t justify it either in Gaza or Lebanon or on the Mavi Marmara or in Bilin.  And I tell you that there will be such cold-blooded murder on both sides until Israel decides it must compromise in order to settle the conflict.  So Israel, if you want to elect leaders like Bibi Netanyahu or Ehud Barak or Avigdor Lieberman to lead you–they will lead you through the wasteland of Azazel.  You will never get out of it alive.  And there will be scores more Itamars along with scores more Cast Leads.

Not to mention scores more settler “payback” attacks on neighboring Palestinian population centers like Nablus.  No doubt Palestinians (aside from the actual killers and those who assisted them who will be hunted like dogs and killed without mercy) will die in the coming days.  For the settlers like the Palestinian terrorists believe the only answer to such murder is counter-murder.  Get ready for the death cycle, the tit for tat of blood for blood.

And lest the Israeli right think that tragedies like these will increase support for their nationalist cause, they are wrong.  Yes, there will be momentary upswell of sympathy and anger on behalf of the settlers and the victims.  But this will be followed by general revulsion by many moderate individuals including young Jews who will say: I’ve had enough of this.  Too much blood.  Too much hatred.  Let them fight to the death if they want.  But I refuse to allow it to have anything to do with me.  This is the type of deliberate turning away from Israel that will be the death knell of classical Zionist solidarity.

In other words, the family’s murder did not bring Silverstein to tears, but rather to blame the crime on the conflict perpetuated by Israel and to attack the Israeli right. Unlike Arrigoni’s murder, this crime was understandable in the context of the “cycle of violence.”

Furthermore, Silverstein states that bloodthirsty terrorists like the group who murdered Arrigoni are a “tiny group” within Gaza. As opposed to Hamas, who are not terrorists, but a group who have “waged an implacable battle” against such groups.

Once again, Silverstein has shown where he truly stands. Unlike his laughable claims on Israeli television that he is motivated by a love for Israel, it is clear that it is his hatred for us which drives him.


David Lange

A law school graduate, David Lange transitioned from work in the oil and hi-tech industries into fulltime Israel advocacy. He is a respected commentator and Middle East analyst who has often been cited by the mainstream media

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