I first heard of the murder in Itamar on Saturday night. Sickened and nauseated to the depth of my soul, I tried to keep my mind occupied by finishing the book I had been reading over the Sabbath –Stef Wertheimer’s autobiography A Man near a Machine. Wertheimer ends his book with an article of faith: by providing work to our Arab neighbors with industrial parks, we shall achieve peace.
Really? Is unemployment what pushes someone to stab with a knife an entire family, including a baby? I very much admire and respect Stef Wertheimer. Fleeing Nazi Germany in 1937, he learned his trade as an apprentice to a refugee who developed an early camera for Zeiss, an optical company. At age 26, he started a cutting-tool factory from his backyard with a borrowed lathe and a loan from a local butcher. Six decades later, the lathe in the backyard is one of the world’s largest manufacturers of metal cutting tools, which are used by car makers like General Motors and Ford. The company, ISCAR, employs 6,000 people and has 50 branches around the world. In 2006, Warren Buffet bought 80% of ISCAR for $4 billion.
As an industrialist, Wertheimer is a genius. But if he thinks that creating industrial jobs in the PA will diffuse hatred, he is dangerously mistaken.
Arab barbarism has nothing to do with statelessness or unemployment. On August 23 and 24, 1929, the Jewish community of Hebron was massacred by Arab mobs armed with clubs, knives and axes. 67 Jews were savagely murdered, and hundreds fled to Jerusalem. Photographs of this massacre display unbearable scenes: a girl struck over the head with a sword and her brain spilling out; a woman with bandaged hands; people with their eyes gouged out.
This was twenty years before Israel declared its independence and 38 years before it took control of the West Bank. Obviously, the Arab perpetuators of the Hebron massacre were not acting out of despair because of “the occupation” or because of economic hardship. When we Jews were occupied by the British, we never stabbed children in the middle of their sleep. The occupied peoples of Tibet, of Northern Cyprus or of Western Sahara have never committed such crimes either.
Nor are the murderers of the Fogel family social outcasts condemned by their people. The murder of the Fogel children and their parents was greeted with jubilation in Gaza. Carnivals were held in the streets as Hamas members handed out sweets. A society that celebrates when babies have they throat cut is sick and sickening. No less sick and sickening are those journalists who describe the victims as “settlers” and the killed baby as a “settler baby.” This language justifies the murder and blames the victims.
As for Abbas, he is a hypocrite. Just two months ago, he awarded $2,000 to the family of a terrorist who attacked IDF soldiers. Last week, the PA's official daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida announced a football tournament named after Wafa Idris, the first female Palestinian suicide bomber. Three weeks ago, Abbas’ PA TV broadcast videos glorifying the terrorist Habash Hanani, who in May 2002 entered Itamar and murdered three Israeli students. Twice (in 2008 and again this past summer), the PA named summer camps after the terrorist Dalal Mughrabi, who in 1978 led the most deadly attack in Israel's history in which 37 civilians were killed in a bus hijacking.
While European media have been mostly ignoring the Itamar massacre only to mention, en passant, some “settlers” killed by “militants” in a typical “cycle of violence,” French Foreign Minister Alain Juppé couldn’t think of a better reaction than to declare that his country is considering recognizing a “Palestinian state.” All this while the Israeli navy just caught a freighter of Iranian weapons heading toward Gaza. So what do the Palestinians get for glorifying throat-cutters and for creating an Iranian basis on Israel’s southern shore? A European declaration that the Palestinians urgently need a state. As for the Libyan victims of Gaddafi’s madness, they might get their “no-flight” zone after they’re all dead.
Which brings me back to Wertheimer. Stef’s father, Eugen, was a German soldier during World War I and he lost a leg in combat. When Hitler stripped the Jews of their German citizenship, Eugen realized that Germany was going mad. He decided to pick up and leave with his family for Palestine. In a way, his amputation saved his life: it is because he had become an invalid for Germany that he couldn’t stand the idea of being stripped of his German citizenship. Pain can make you lucid.
Will the overwhelming pain of the Itamar massacre make us lucid too? It is about time. As we approach the Purim festival we have, like every year, the opportunity to internalize the clear-cut message of the Book of Esther: that when the hatred of Jews reaches a point of no-return, the only way for us to save our lives is to make our enemies pay the price of their madness.