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Israel’s Capote

posted after the events of Itamar that the massacre reminded me of the slaughter of the Clutter family in Kansas in 1959, the crime that inspired Truman Capote’s extraordinary work of journalism, In Cold Blood. I lamented, and continue to lament, the lack of comparable journalistic interest in the deaths of the Fogels, along with all the implications of that lack of interest: that the Fogels, right down to the decapitated infant, were less human than other victims and therefore less deserving of our outrage on their behalf; that because they were Jewish settlers they brought the crime upon themselves; that the crime can be at least partially excused and its savagery discounted because the anger of the perpetrators is justified in international eyes — you get the picture.

I learned this morning, when I checked out National Review Online, that we have our Capote after all. He is an Italian journalist named Giulio Meotti, the author of a staggering work: A New Shoah: The Untold Story of Israel’s Victims of Terrorism. Meotti spent six years tracking down and talking to witnesses to terrorist attacks in Israel, including survivors and relatives of the murdered, in order to give names and faces to the many, many victims. In his interview in NRO, he says he

heard about scores of young people and children, women and elderly, incinerated on buses; cafés, pizzerias, and shopping centers turned into slaughterhouses; mothers and daughters killed in front of ice-cream shops; entire families exterminated in their own beds; infants executed with a blow to the base of the skull; teens tortured and their blood smeared on the walls of a cave; fruit markets blown to pieces; nightclubs annihilated along with dozens of students; seminarians murdered during their Biblical studies; husbands and wives killed in front of their children; brothers and sisters, grandparents and grandchildren murdered together; children murdered in their mothers’ arms.

About the Itamar attack, he says:

Those who profess to deplore violence on both sides of the Israeli-Palestinian equation have remained relatively silent on the slaughtering of this Israeli family. No words of condemnation about the killing of these innocents have been heard from the human-rights groups, the same faction that is so quick to vilify Israel for defending itself from terrorist attacks, especially when Palestinian citizens lose their lives during a retaliatory foray by Israel. There is no other conclusion to draw: When the deaths of Jewish innocents go unmourned and unacknowledged, it is because Jewish lives do not count.

When asked why so many believe that Israel is not the wronged party, he cites the “river of oily, bloody money that feeds those who incite anti-Israeli riots, organize anti-Israeli boycotts, spread anti-Israeli lies in the guise of ‘objective journalism’ and ‘academic research.’ There are careers to be made on the betrayal of intellectual standards.” He takes Israel to task for its infuriatingly passive response to the theft and distortion of the historical narrative by the Palestinians. About Israel’s persistent desire to accommodate her enemies, he is particularly acute:

The psychological need for normalization is so great that it overwhelms the clear failures in the peace process, the continuing terrorism, and unabated Arab hatred. Sixty-three years after its creation, Israel is still fighting for its very survival. Punished with missiles raining from north and south, threatened with destruction by an Iran aiming to acquire nuclear weapons, and pressed upon by friend and foe, Israel, it seems, is never to have a moment’s peace.

I’m ordering the book, although quite honestly I’m afraid to read it. To this day I’m haunted by one detail of the Maxim bombing in Haifa in 2003 — on that day a woman, an ordinary secular Israeli like me, woke up, got dressed, said goodbye to her husband and children as they went out the door to go to Maxim for breakfast, and never saw any of them again; they were all murdered. I remember many such specifics of attacks that have happened since I came here; the names and the particulars stay in my head. I am not, therefore, this book’s target audience. I wonder if its intended audience will pay it the slightest attention.