The recent killing of settlers near Hebron provides a useful case study for how the media, society and political officials regard the value of Palestinian and Israeli lives.
From the New York Times coverage, written by Mark Landler in D.C. and Israeli Isabel Kershner in Jerusalem:
Mr. Netanyahu ordered Israel’s security forces “to pursue the attackers without any diplomatic restraint and to lay hands on the attackers and those who sent them”
The awful truth is that the killing of 400 children in 3 weeks hasn't produced the morality debates in Israeli society which our community has painstakingly engaged in over the deaths of 4 Israelis. To the Israeli government and the Israeli society: the moral clarity of whose violence is righteous is a no-brainer.
Israel’s defense minister, Ehud Barak, said in a statement, “Israel will not allow any terrorist element to raise its head, and will exact a price from the murderers and those who sent them.”
After an Israeli attack, if the following was the response from Khaled Meshaal, would it be considered valid by anyone?
"Palestine will not allow any terrorist element to raise its head, and will exact a price from the murderers and those who sent them"
Hamas is an elected government too. So, following the Israeli logic: after an Israeli attack on Palestinians, Hamas could ignore "diplomatic restraint" in trying to kill Ehud Barak and the murderer soldiers he sent to torture and kill Palestinians.
Of course this rhetoric would be regarded as illegitimate coming from Palestinians, but somehow it's perfectly acceptable coming from Bibi and Barak?
I wonder if the Western media would euphemistically call it a "targeted killing" if it was Ehud Barak in the cross-hairs. Why do we automatically accept the legitimacy of Israeli violence without hesitation?
Our community is not innocent in this either. Our serious emotional struggle over the 4 Israeli deaths indeed reflects our own bias in this matter.
The Hamas military wing's statement:
The military wing of Hamas said that the attack was “a natural response to the crimes of the Israeli occupation and its settlers.”
On January 5th 2009 an Israeli Apache helicopter launched unknown projectiles at and around the al-Samouni home in the Zeytoun neighborhood of Gaza. 23 members of the family were killed including: Azza (2 years old), Rezqa (14 years old), Fares (12 years old) and al-Moa'tasim Bilah Muhammad (6 months old).
When the Goldstone Report summarized this attack which targeted dozens of civilians the word "murder" was never used. But...
With neither an investigation nor a hint of hesitation; UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Robert Serry condemned Hamas' actions as a "murderous act".
Without a hint of irony, the chairman of the South Mount Hebron settlers’ council is quoted in the article as saying:
“For the past 100 years there has been a link between the Jewish people’s desire to live and the Arab people’s desire to kill us.”
For the past 100 years the Zionist movement and its settlers have ethnically cleansed Palestine, one step at a time.
The killing of the 4 settlers was the worst death toll for Israel in 2 years. In the attack described above 6 times more people were killed in just one of many standard Israeli attacks.
So, it's good that the New York Times makes it clear to everyone who the murderers are.