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In Cold Blood in Itamar

The knifing to death of five members of the Fogel family in the settlement of Itamar reminds me of the killing of the Clutter family in Holcomb, Kansas in 1959, familiar to you perhaps as the subject of Truman Capote’s monumental work of reportage, In Cold Blood. The Clutter murders still arouse revulsion and horror decades later, as well they should. The Fogel murders, on the other hand, provoke a rather telling lack of interest among journalists as to the basic details: most international coverage of the event, what little there is, neglects to mention the ages of the murdered children. They were an eleven-year-old boy, a three-year-old boy, and a one-month-old baby girl.

Netanyahu has spoken out angrily against the tepid response of the PA and demanded that they clamp down on anti-Israel incitement in the territories. It’s perfectly right and proper that he make this demand, but as the kids say, good luck with that.

Why did this happen now? I wonder. In the wake of the revolutions in the Arab world, an anxious Fatah has been preemptively cozying up to Hamas, and Hamas chief-in-exile Khaled Meshaal has been making reciprocal noises. “The first step [toward ‘liberating’ Jerusalem from the Israelis] is refusal to negotiate with Israel,” he said this past Monday, setting the terms for any potential reconciliation between the Palestinian groups. The object of a Hamas-Fatah rapprochement would be what’s written in the Hamas charter: jihad against the Jewish state. (That’s the whole Jewish state he’s talking about, mind you — not just children with sidecurls in Itamar.)

Less than a week after Mashaal made this statement, members of the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades — otherwise known as the armed wing of Fatah — slaughtered the Fogels. The “heroic operation,” as the Brigades’ press release called the attack, was “part of the natural response to the massacres of the fascist occupation against our people in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.”

That’s what a Hamas-Fatah reconciliation looks like, folks. It means the subsuming of Fatah into Hamas and the death of any pretense of a Palestinian partner for peace.

In his speech on Monday, Mashaal said, “[t]he people in Egypt and Tunisia have given us back our lives.” Congratulations, Khaled. No one is bringing the Fogels back to life. They won’t even get journalists delving with grim, fascinated interest into their short life stories. And hey, why should they? They were only settlers, after all.