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Middle East murder

Middle East

The way you behave reflects who you are. But the way you respond to others' behavior is just as revealing of your character. This is why we express shock at terrible crimes and sympathy with innocent victims. If someone jokes about a tragedy or suggests that it might be a good thing, we place that person in a corresponding moral category-jerk, monster, whatever-and adjust our dealings with him accordingly.

For this reason it's worth noting people's reactions to the horrific murder of the Fogel family in the Israeli West Bank settlement of Itamar. Palestinian terrorists broke into their home late Friday night, stabbing Udi and Ruth to death along with three of their children, including 3-month-old Hadas, who was sleeping nuzzled with her father at the time. The 12-year-old daughter came home late from a youth activity to discover the bloody nightmare.

Consider the killers. The killing was human butchery. It was up close and personal. Stabbing. Slashing throats. Still worse, these people murdered children in this way. The 11-year-old boy was reading in bed. The 4-year-old girl was sleeping in bed. They did not even spare the baby. Not even the baby.

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Consider their reception in Gaza. People rejoiced in the streets and gave out candy in celebration. Apparently, ordinary people in that community saw this as a great moral accomplishment. A Hamas government spokesman in Gaza, Sami Abu Zuhri, said, "We in Hamas movement offer full support to actions against the Israeli settlers who every day commit crimes, kill, and terrorize the Palestinians in the territories and villages with the full support of the government and the army." Translation: This is fair game.

Consider the Palestinian Authority. A spokesman for President Obama said, "There is no possible justification for the killing of parents and children in their home. We call on the Palestinian Authority to unequivocally condemn this terrorist attack.'' But all that we got from Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas was a statement condemning "all acts of violence against civilians, regardless of who carried them out and their motives.'' In other words, "Well, there's violence on both sides, and we need to stop." It's all just "violence." To his credit, Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad called it terrorism, saying he "clearly and firmly denounces the terror attack, just as I have denounced crimes against Palestinians."

Consider also the Western press. This BBC report described the murderer (or murderers) not as a terrorist, but as "an intruder" and the 2002 terrorist attacker as a "Palestinian gunman." Wall Street Journal reporter Joshua Mitnik seems more concerned about what Jewish settlers might do in response than he is about the crime itself. Noting that the area is "known for vigilantism against Palestinians," he even seems to suggest that they had it coming to them.

Events like this let you know who you're dealing with.

D.C. Innes
D.C. Innes

D.C. is associate professor of politics at The King's College in New York City and co-author of Left, Right, and Christ: Evangelical Faith in Politics (Russell Media). Follow D.C. on Twitter @DCInnes1.

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