Today, somewhere in the West Bank, perhaps the city of Nablus, members of the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, a Palestinian terrorist organization closely linked with the ruling Fatah party, are watching a television set in disbelief. Just hours earlier, members of the group, building on months of pre-operational surveillance, infiltrated the Jewish settlement of Itamar and, having chosen to invade a private home, proceeded to murder a father, mother and three children by stabbing them to death while they slept, leaving three orphans behind to scream into the night.
By all accounts, on a tactical and political level, the operation was a glorious success for the Palestinian cause, or at least it should have been. When all was said and done, five Jewish settlers, their homes and communities repeatedly and variously condemned as illegal, illegitimate and an obstacle to peace by the PA, EU, UN, and the US, no less, lay dead. The murderers, having arrived back home from their night's mission without a scratch, washed a family's blood from their hands before tucking their own into bed. All according to plan.
What the organizers of a family's massacre did not anticipate was the swift, global condemnation of their act of resistance against Israeli occupation, and especially the portrayal of their military operation as a crime. After all, it was mere weeks ago that the international community came within a hair's breadth of adopting a UN Security Council Resolution adjudicating Israeli settlement activity to be illegal under international law. To the exclusion of the United States, which could not approve such a resolution for obvious reasons of Zionist influence, but which did everything to condition its veto through tacit approval of the resolution's essential point, the world collectively labeled Jewish settlements illegal, and more so, immoral for presenting an obstacle to resolving a decade long conflict. How then, reasoned the Palestinian freedom fighters, could their activity, which merely enforced the collective will of the international community through "direct action", be considered anything but a victory for international law, and certainly not a crime.
Indeed, Palestinian terror groups could be forgiven for taking global opprobrium of the settlements and their stubborn residents as a license to murder a Jewish family in their sleep. After all, no international outcry followed a myriad prior acts of daily violence, sabotage, boycott and incitement against the inhabitants of the Jewish communities and their property. Instead, support streamed in from all corners, particularly the Western world, encouraging and emboldening the resistance. In the consciousness of peoples everywhere, residents of Jewish settlements have assumed the role of global untermenschen, conceptually denied the most basic rights and privileges afforded to human beings, including to their very lives and property. So why should it not be so in reality? Why should the elimination of a few illegal settlers, in line with international demands, warrant rebuke from the very international community which now leads the charge against them?
The leadership of Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades is left to ponder such questions, feelings of betrayal wiping out the exuberance at their glorious victory the night before. Those of us in the West are likewise left to consider how this murder did not come by the hands of the irreconcilable religious radicals of Hamas, it's leadership under siege and publicly sworn to Israel's destruction, but by a long-thought dormant offshoot of the very party with which Israel is being forced to make peace, at a time of Israeli concessions, security cooperation and unprecedented Palestinian West Bank prosperity and self-government.