Netanyahu's exploitation of the murders at Itamar
To right-wing politicos, cabinet ministers, Knesset members and West Bank rabbis, the five murdered members of the Fogel family are a catalyst for realizing the great dream: the dream of messianic redemption, of the Greater Land of Israel.
The horrific murders in Itamar were a crime against humanity. Entering a home in that manner and slaughtering five people in their sleep is a base, cowardly act, and it makes no difference whether the victim is an adult or an infant. Murder is murder is murder.
Motti Fogel, brother of Udi Fogel, said at the Har Hamenuhot cemetery on Sunday that the funeral should have been a private affair. "A person is born for himself, to his parents and siblings, and dies for himself, he is not a symbol or a national event, and death must not be allowed to become an instrument of something."
But it was not Motti who decided. Right-wing politicos, cabinet ministers, Knesset members and West Bank rabbis expropriated the murder of his brother and his family from Motti and made it a political event. To them the five murdered members of the Fogel family are a catalyst for realizing the great dream: the dream of messianic redemption, of the Greater Land of Israel.
Above the freshly dug graves the speakers competed among themselves as to who could be more extreme. Israel's Ashkenazi chief rabbi, Yona Metzger, said there is no partner for talks on the Palestinian side, and the small community of Itamar should be turned into a major Israeli city - an extreme-right agenda voiced by a figure who is supposed to be the voice of the state.
"How long will you stay silent, how long will you grovel?" cried Udi Fogel's father, Haim Fogel, as if we weren't mistreating the Palestinians sufficiently, not burning enough mosques, not destroying enough olive trees, not expropriating enough of their lands and not killing enough of them.
Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin seized the opportunity to declare that Israel "shall continue to build anywhere and at any time." Samaria Regional Council chairman Gershon Mesika said, "All the talk of peace delusions must stop."
Interior Minister Eli Yishai was quick to demand the construction of 5,000 homes in the settlements, while Vice Prime Minister Moshe Ya'alon denounced incitement by the Palestinians, as if he had never heard of the incitement by West Bank rabbis, for whom the Palestinians are gentiles not created in God's image.
Many others spoke of "hastening the redemption" - meaning extending Jewish control over the entire area between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River while "transfering" the Arabs to the other side of the river.
The murders strengthened the hands of extremists on both sides. Those on the Palestinian side want young settlers to launch a revenge campaign in their villages that will set off a third intifada.
Our extremists want that intifada to become an all-out war, the war of Gog and Magog, that will end in victory and the "cleansing" of Arabs from the land.
The only problem is that while both sides are confident in their own victory, only one side can prevail, and sometimes both lose.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, too, hastened to move the attack to the political arena. He promised to build 400 homes in the main settlement blocs and even declared, during a condolence visit, "We shall build our land," thus disclosing his true thoughts.
Netanyahu, after all, never believed in the two-state solution, despite his Bar-Ilan speech. To him, the entire land belongs to us, and the two-state shibboleth is meant only to buy a little sympathy from U.S. President Barack Obama.
Netanyahu believes in force and deterrence, and as the familiar saying in these parts goes, if force doesn't work, use more force.
Netanyahu's real plan is "to annex as much of the open territory as possible," as he said some years ago - somewhere around the 50 percent mark, while holding on to the Jordan Valley as a safety belt to the east. In the small, noncontiguous area that remains he would be prepared to give the Palestinians autonomy that would be called a "state."
In his opinion, because any significant chunk of territory that Israel leaves would soon become an Islamic base, and every concession would play into the hands of Hamas and Iran, as few concessions should be made as possible.
Netanyahu is consistent in this regard. He never believed in a peace deal entailing genuine concessions. He opposed the Oslo Accords when he was a Knesset member and shattered them after he won the 1996 election. Now, in his second go-round as prime minister, he maintains the exact same policy, with an extreme-right cabinet and with the aid of his natural partners, Yishai and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman.
Netanyahu's real vision is to live by the sword. He will lead us from intifada to intifada, from war to war, and the murders in Itamar were just one more opportunity to heighten construction in the territories as well as the walls of hatred and blood between us and them.