Monday, March 14, 2011

How a Knife challenged a Tsunami and the Banality of Violence

March, 14, 2011

Last Friday, with the first photos coming in from earth-quake/Tsunami stricken Japan, so many remained dumbfounded by the force of nature. An earthquake that reached nine points on the Richter scale was followed by a massive wave reaching more than six kilometers inland, wiping out whole cities. The next morning Israelis (who do not keep Shabbat) turned their television on and were awakened with shocking news. Late Friday night a Palestinian(s) infiltrated the Jewish settlement of Itamar, broke into a house, and stabbed to death five members of one family: the father, mother, and three young children, including a three month of baby. Two of their children were spared, and the incident was discovered by the 12 year old daughter, who returned home around midnight from a youth group event. This tragic and horrible act stood as a stark slap in the face vis-à-vis the Japanese tragedy. This was not an act of nature; this was a meticulously carried out operation initiated by a human.

This abhorrent act of violence will go down in the memory of both Jew and Palestinian alike. In this blog entry, I will not talk about the occupation. I will not compare it to Jewish acts of violence. I will not use it as a way to build more settlements. I will not demand from the Palestinians a louder apology than they have already issued.

Tonight, I will remember a beautiful family as I saw in the last family film they made, which was aired on Israel television tonight. Yes, a mother and father, and five amazing children playing together. And, like the Tsunami that swept away thousands of Japanese, leaving families torn apart, little did the girl know that after two hours away from her house a Tsunami would come crushing down on her family; forever, tearing them apart.

Violence has become so banal (I choose to forfeit discussing the philosophical questions surrounding that statement). To the Israeli government I say: let our loved ones rest in peace; let us not try to make cheap political gains over their deaths; let us not advertise their blood on television. Can we not even mourn the death of loved ones in this country?

The goodness and crimes of both people, Israelis and Palestinians alike, are etched out in our memories and recorded in history. This case was just another reminder of what has happened too often in the past. At the moment, the most difficult question which remains for both peoples is how is it possible to prevent such heinous crimes in the future?

* -This article was written in memory of the Fogel family and all the Palestinian and Israeli children whose lives were cut short due to the conflict.


  1. To be honest with all the tsunami news i had missed this, such a tragedy, and such a terrible thing for a 12 year old girl or for that matter anyone to come home and see...

  2. What a horrific event to discover--she will be in my thoughts.