Thoughts on the Fogel family and their murderer

Berkeley, CA – All weekend, as I attempted to submerge myself in the Network of Spiritual Progressives at Tikkun Magazine’s 25th Anniversary, the murder of the Fogel family was laying heavily on my mind. The shocking initial news reports, followed by the high turn out (20,000 people) to the Jerusalem funeral and then the incredibly disappointing “emergency” decision of the Israeli government to approve 500 more homes in settlements, all left me nauseous — to say the least.

But it wasn’t until Sunday afternoon, when a facebook contact posted a Google Album of the murdered family on my wall that I started to write this entry. These images, while graphic and incredibly disturbing, will come to represent thousands of words people will write, say and think about this tragedy and the tragedies that are following.

That being said, it is the caption that my friend used when posting the link that inspired my response. He said:

X has hesitated, but decided to share the link exposing the corps of the Israeli family slaughtered by a terrorist this weekend. These are very disturbing images of what Israel’s enemies are capable of.

Firstly, these are the photographs of a family that was murdered this weekend. They are human beings, who were murdered by another human being — being a victim or murderer is a human experience that goes beyond national identity.

Calling this family an “Israeli family” and the person who murdered them a “terrorist” only furthers the type of violence that resulted in this murder. Arguing that these images are “of what Israel’s enemies are capable of” colludes an already dangerous, violent narrative  of “us” vs. “them” with nationalism.

I understand, that in moments like these — where we are shocked into disgust and anger — that we feel the need to bunker up, to know who is “us” and who is “them”. In fact, I think that’s a part of human nature. But this part of our human nature does not serve our needs as human beings. Distinguishing between the “victim” and the “murderer” will not help us end the cycle of violence that inspired this act.

In the future, we will probably come to know the Fogel family more — we will see pictures and videos of their children and their family. We will hear from their neighbors, friends and maybe even their remaining children. Surely, official representatives of both the Israeli and Palestinian nations will use their names to make political statements and hopefully to try and call for an end to this violent cycle that we are trapped in.

But one voice that I think is most important for us to hear, a voice that will probably be silenced, is the voice of the murderer and his / her family. What led this person to commit such a terrible crime? What message were they trying to send to the majority of Palestinians and Israelis who are working to end this cycle of violence? And most importantly, but surely difficult to ask is how is this murderer a victim?

Both the Fogel family and the murderer were highly dedicated to their national causes. The Fogels felt so strongly about their either national or religious convictions that they became a part of the settler movement — a movement that’s central values deny others their basic human rights and are far from the values of most Israelis. The murderer felt so strongly that the situation in which he / she was living in was so unjust that he / she had to take justice into their own hands and break one of the most central commandments G-d gave to all people — something most Palestinians would never dream of doing.

So on this eve, of yet another tragedy in our Holyland, may we find the courage to move beyond “us” and “them,” may we come together now and in the future against murder — Israeli and Palestinian alike — and never forget, to look beyond the binary.

6 thoughts on “Thoughts on the Fogel family and their murderer

  1. I appreciate your equity in this matter. There are many terrible things that happen in this world… we can look at why and try to remedy them, we can blame the person and deny the reason or intent furthering the separation, or we can stop the reactive behavior and act with intention and wisdom to resolve and balance our world.

    I am praying/meditating for mindful action to prevail.

  2. It has been demonstrated time and again that Moslem extremist/terrorist do not embrace Moslem teachings like “to save a life is to save the world.” (Talmud, Sanhedrin 37a) This teaching is present in the Moslem religion and embraced by a majority of Moslems.

    But those Moslem terrorist like the murderer of the Fogel family believe in the sword as a means to benefit their beliefs. There is no negotiating for peace with those who hate and whose mission is to kill those who do not believe as they do. The Moslem majority, who are not jihadists, need to take a stand against such violence out loud to help put an end to the hate and violence perpetrated by jihadists. Until such time that evil is extinguished, tragedies will occur over and over again.

  3. I loved this post.

    It should be widely circulated. Israelis need to know that Peace Activists are primarily interested in hearing the voice of this Muslim. Because it was this Muslim with whom Peace Activists seek friendship.

    Why? Because this Muslonazi best represents the perfect distillation of Liberalism. Every leftist had a hand in this act of shari’ah. Every Leftist is guilty.

  4. Alison’s beautiful call for some basic human respect and understanding should be held up for all to see — and to see that there are rationals and rationalizations on all sides of the conflict. So, let’s stop and take a deep breath. Why is there such a rush to judgment? Do we really know already who murdered the family? Is it impossible to believe that the murderer/murderers might not be Muslims? Perhaps not even Palestinians? At this point, let us grieve with the family that lost so much, and grieve with the persecuted communities on the other side of the fence who also have lost so much.

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