For those who are home, and for those who are on the way. For those who support the historic and just return of the land of Israel to its people, forever loyal to their inheritance, and its restoration.
The gory butchering in Itamar of three sweet-faced youngsters (one of them three months old) and their gentle parents is unfortunately far from unique in the history of our land.
The names of Udi, Ruth, Yoav, Elad and Hadas Fogel are tragically added to too long a list of names of Jewish families slaughtered in their homes by Arab marauders.
There obviously were other victims in some 150 years of Arab terror – on school buses, in classrooms, in kindergartens and nurseries, in markets, near shopping malls, in hotels, at airports, in public conveyances, on city streets, in pizzerias and ice-cream parlors, in playgrounds, at the movies and wherever else folks routinely gather.
But somehow the home is seen as sacred, a place of supposed safety, one’s castle, one’s nest.
Homes weren’t sanctuaries, however, on August 24, 1929, when at the instigation of a supposed man of God, infamous Mufti Haj Amin el-Husseini (later Hitler’s wartime accomplice in Berlin), hordes of Arabs descended on the tranquil and ancient Jewish community of Hebron. At the end of their rampage 67 Jews – men women, children, babies – lay dead.
They weren’t neatly assassinated. Some were decapitated and disemboweled. Limbs were severed, eyes gouged and all manner of ghastly unthinkable mutilation practiced. A preteen girl was raped by 13 heroes of the Palestinian revolution (before there was a State of Israel or occupation to rage against) and then hung upside down over an open flame to roast slowly to death.
Hebron’s was the most notorious massacre, but others were simultaneously perpetrated elsewhere. In the Jewish community of Safed, 21 were butchered as gruesomely (a cat was stuffed into one elderly woman’s disemboweled stomach).
In Motza, near Jerusalem, the Maklef family was slain, but nine-year-old Mordechai survived after he jumped from a second-story window. In 1952, at the age of 32, General Maklef became the country’s third Chief of IDF General Staff.
The mobs rioted countrywide for a week, discontinuing many centuries of uninterrupted Jewish life in Hebron, as well as in smaller Jewish enclaves like Gaza, Tulkarm and Nablus.
On the ill-fated evening of August 13, 1936, several Arabs invaded the humble Unger dwelling in Safed’s old Jewish Quarter, just as the family ate supper. They murdered the father, Alter – a 36-year-old Torah scribe – his daughters Yaffa and Hava (aged nine and seven) and the six-year-old son, Avraham.
In his book Safed Annals, author Natan Shor includes the following eyewitness account from one of the first neighbors who chanced by: “We heard groans from the house. We entered and in the middle of a dark room – furnished only with a table, a broken chair and a bookcase crammed with mostly religious volumes – lay a man’s body. His skull was bashed in.
“Half the head was missing. We saw only a beard, part of a nose and the right eye… The corpse lay in a pool of blood and brain matter… In the next room amid the dishes, lay three little bloodied lifeless children.
“Two of them were still open-eyed.
“An old woman, the grandmother, ran around from room to room, crazed with grief. The mother, herself wounded (probably left for dead), went from child to child. She didn’t yell or wail. Staring intently, she repeated quietly over and over in Yiddish: ‘If it were only me instead of you.’ Her hand bled profusely and an amputated finger hung by a strip of skin.”
The above carnage and much more occurred before a Jewish state came to be, before Arabs created and perpetrated their own refugee problem, before Israel could be accused of occupation and before the advent of beyond-Green-Line settlement. Incited Arabs went on the warpath even without any dubious casus belli like mass aliya, Jewish independence or 1967’s Six Day War.
Significantly, their earliest targets were mostly members of the pre-Zionist “old community,” comprised of religious traditional Jews who had resided for many generations particularly in the holy cities, passively awaiting the messiah.
Just as Zionism was a false pretext for homicide, so is settlement. The Fogels of Itamar weren’t knifed because they lived outside the Green Line. There was similar heartbreak inside the green-colored 1949 armistice demarcation.
On April 11, 1974, Arab terrorists raided an apartment building on Kiryat Shmona’s Rehov Yehuda Halevi 15. They went from flat to flat in a barbaric killing spree.
Iris Sheetrit, then nine, who hid behind a closet, was her family’s sole survivor. Her mother Fanny (30), sister Yocheved (11) and brothers Aharon (eight) and Mordechai (four) were all shot at point-blank range.
In neighboring apartments the dead included Esther Cohen (40) and her children David (17) and Shula (14); Miriam and Ya’acov Guetta (both 30); Shimon Biton (30) and his children Avi (five) and Anat (two); Anissa Stern (47) and her daughter Rahel (eight); Shaul Ramjerkar (64) and Esther Wazana (60). Two soldiers who came to help were also killed.
On November 19, 1974, another apartment house – in within-Green-Line Beit She’an – was likewise attacked.
On April 22, 1979, terrorists broke into the within-Green-Line Nahariya apartment of Smadar and Danny Haran. They marched Danny and four-year-old Anat to the beach, where they smashed the child’s head and shot her father. Smadar hid in a loft with the couple’s two-year-old daughter, clamping her mouth to muffle the toddler’s cries lest they be detected by the invaders, only to discover she had smothered Yael to death.
The grim affinity of fate between Jews on both sides of the Green Line was lamentably demonstrated in 2002. On June 21 Fatah stalwarts burst into the Szabo home in Itamar and murdered the mother, Rachel, and her sons Avishai (five), Zvi (12) and Neria (15). Two other children, Avia and Asael, were wounded.
Several months later, on November 10, this time inside the hallowed Green Line, in the very left-wing Kibbutz Metzer (of the Hashomer Hatza’ir movement), Fatah terrorists murdered two kibbutz members – Tirza Damari and Yitzhak Dori – outdoors. Earlier they broke into Revital Ohayon’s quarters, as she was reading bedtime stories to her boys – five-year-old Matan and four-year-old Noam. All three were cold-bloodedly executed, with the mother found hugging/protecting her children.
Bottom line, our enemies’ chilling bloodlust isn’t the product of recent events, of geography or of ideological affiliation. Nothing marked the Fogel family for death apart from its Jewish identity and the random opportunity to slaughter. The more things change the more they stay the same.
All this is quite unpalatable for Israel’s priests of political correctness, renowned for their impeccably refined tastes and humanitarian sensibilities. The mention of Arab bestiality is off-putting and may, heaven forefend, even serve the dastardly purposes of the left-wing’s real enemy – Jewish political rivals. Conversely, sanitizing disagreeable details allows, for example, to depict the renewed Jewish presence in Hebron – Judaism’s second-holiest city – as a reprehensible colonialist settlement.
Moreover, remembrance can call attention to undesirable truths about the Arabs’ genocidal Judeophobia and offer a clear glimpse into what would happen to this country’s Jews were their self-defense to fail.
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I visited Hevron in November 2000 after the outbreak of the Rosh Hashanah War to see what could be done to assist in the face of the growing daily attacks on the community. After returning to work for the community in the summer of 2001, a bond and a love was forged that grows to this day. My wife Melody and I merited to be married at Ma'arat HaMachpela and now host visitors from throughout the world every Shabbat as well as during the week. Our goal, "Time to come Home!"