Itamar and breathing


I was just in Israel, and checked in on my old neighborhood, Armon HaNatziv.

There’s a plaque there memorializing a beloved local supermarket manager who was stabbed to death shortly after his promotion to the main branch, in Jerusalem’s western center.

At the time — around 1990 — this was regarded as an act of Palestinian terrorism, and for years the killing appeared on the Israeli Foreign Ministry’s First Intifada casualties.

In fact, he was killed during a botched robbery by two Jews, one a disgruntled former employee.

The plaque’s still there, which is right, because he was genuinely beloved and his murder is still a blight. And it does not mention "terrorism."


Danny Katz, 15, was butchered in 1983 near Haifa. Five Israeli Arabs were convicted; they later recanted, saying their confessions were coerced. Katz’s family doesn’t buy it, and the controversy continues. Rami Haba, an 8 year old boy, was murdered near the settlement of Elon Moreh in 1987, and there followed revenge attacks on neighboring Arab towns. His killer has never been caught, and his murder is still memorialized as terrorism.

I remember reading, in the late 1980s, in a Hebrew paper — I can’t remember which one — a theory by a police psychologist that Katz and Haba and perhaps others in the north may have been the victims of the same serial killer. The theory was based on the forensic techniques now popularized on TV dramas: examining and comparing the scenes, the methods of killing.

And I remember thinking, beyond the possible injustice committed against the five Arabs convicted in the Katz case, and the real injustice suffered by the Palestinian villagers after the Haba murder — is this guy still out there?

Could he kill again?

Were the police wrong in the Katz case? Had they not been focused on "nationalist motives" might Rami Haba still be alive?

We do not yet know who committed the awful butchery in Itamar over the weekend. 

I know Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades has claimed responsibility, but I also know that this speaks more about the sickness of that movement’s leadership than any reality. Thanks to Tweeter Falasteeni who points put that Al Aqsa subsequently denied responsibility and condemned the attack.

Max Blumenthal has a point here (that is, before he swallows up his point and blames the killings first on Palestinians, and then on Israel): Let’s all, journalists and non, stick to Journalism 101.

The importance of sticking to the facts lies not only in not visiting retribution on the innocent, but in identifying the truly guilty — and keeping them from striking again.

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