By Rosalina Nieves
On November 10, 2002, five people were murdered, including two young children and their mother, on Kibbutz Metzer in the Israeli Arab-dominated Triangle area near the Green Line in northern Israel.It was during the Second Intifada, and one year later the Israeli Defense Force confirmed that the killer was a member of the Palestinian Fatah Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades.
On March 11th, 2011, five members of the Fogel family were stabbed to death in their home in Itamar, a West Bank settlement located southeast of Nablus. No one has been arrested in connection to the murders but many believe the perpetrator is Palestinian.
As I was heading to Kibbutz Metzer, I couldn’t help but to wonder what the mood would be like. Nearly nine years ago, it had been the scene of a vicious attack similar to the one in Itamar. I wondered if the recent killings had opened up old wounds and if our conversation would be dominated by geopolitics and the region’s conflict. Almost every Israeli Jew I had encountered this week called the murders a “terrorist attack” and blamed the Palestinians for what had happened. So, why wouldn’t someone who was witness to a similar crime feel the same way?
Once at the kibbutz, it took only a few minutes before our host Dov Avital made mention of the 2002 attack. He didn’t call it a “terrorist attack” or even blamed the Palestinians, but rather explained it as a personal tragedy. The people killed that night were his neighbors and friends who along with him and the rest of Kibbutz, lived peacefully with the neighboring Arab village of Meiser.
To my surprise he made no comparison between the 2002 attack and the recent Fogel tragedy. In his opinion, the attacks were motivated by two different reasons.
The kibbutz had a been the target of an extremist Palestinian organization whose sole purpose was to disturb the peace between Jewish and Arab neighbors. The attacks also were a protest against the wall that had divided up neighboring Palestinian lands and a means to incite anger and hatred among the kibbutzniks.
“Metzer isn’t a colony or a settlement, and it not in the West Bank,” explained Avital. “Itamar is an illegal Jewish Settlement and the people living there are as racist as they get.”
He didn’t justify the killings but rather attempted to add another perspective to what dominated the media.
Avital Claimed that the Jewish settlers in Itamar had a reputation for being racist, and he compared them to the Ku Klux Klan. He suspects the killer may have been incited by the volatile situation in Itamar and thinks it may have been personal.
“You can’t compare, of course they were both hideous crimes where lives were lost, maybe for certain politicians they even serve as propaganda, but for us it is not the same,” says Dov. “We lived in peace and continue to live in peace with neighbors and we understand it was an isolated incident caused by one person, the killer.”