We were not supposed to see Shlomo Nativ's name in the newspapers. At least, we weren't supposed to know who he was for several years. He was just a 13-year-old boy. He was loved by his family and friends. He had brothers and sisters, parents and grandparents. His life was not our business. And, to a certain extent, now that it is over, it still shouldn't concern us. What should concern us is his death.
Nativ was murdered last Thursday at the hands of a Palestinian ax murderer just a few meters from his home in Bat Ayin. And his death should interest us for what it teaches us, first of all about the nature of the Middle East and Israel's place in it.
The mainstream media in Europe and the US and even here maintain that Nativ's death tells us little we didn't already "know" if we are right-thinking people. By this view of things, the cold-blooded terrorist murder of civilians - even of children - is to be expected when the victims in question are Israeli Jews who live beyond the 1949 armistice lines. It isn't nice. It isn't pleasant to say. But as far as the right-thinking people of the Western media are concerned, Israeli Jews like Nativ, who live in Gush Etzion in Judea, are simply asking to be murdered.
Today, the media's view is shared by both European governments and the Obama administration. For years now the Europeans have accepted the legally unsupportable Arab claim that all Jewish presence in areas beyond the 1949 armistice lines is illegal. Since 1993, supported by the Israeli Left, the US government has gradually moved toward adopting this view. And today this view stands at the center of President Barack Obama's emerging policy toward Israel and the Palestinians.
At base, this view assumes two things. First, it assumes that the root of the Arab-Israeli conflict is the absence of Palestinian statehood, and therefore the solution is the establishment of a Palestinian state. The second thing it assumes is that the Palestinian demand that any territory that Israel transfers to Palestinian control must first be ethnically cleansed of all Jewish presence is completely innocent and acceptable.
OBAMA MADE clear that this is the view of his administration on two occasions in the past week. First, at a news conference before he departed for his European tour, he announced that as far as his administration is concerned, the only way of contending with the Arab conflict with Israel is by establishing a Palestinian state. In his words, "It is critical for us to advance a two-state solution."
And second, last Thursday in London, Obama made clear that he supports the mass expulsion of Jews from Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria (as well as the Golan Heights), when he announced his support for the so-called Saudi peace plan.
The Saudi plan, issued as a propaganda stunt by Saudi King Abdullah during a meeting with New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman in 2002, calls for Israel to commit national suicide by removing itself to within the indefensible 1949 lines and accepting millions of hostile foreign Arabs as citizens in its rump state in exchange for "regular" relations with the Arab world.
Shlomo Nativ's murder shows clearly that Obama and his supporters are viewing the Arab conflict with Israel through a distorted lens. Their interpretation of both the nature of the conflict and its likely resolution are wrong.
IT TAKES A CERTAIN type of person to hack a child to death with an ax. In the case at hand, Nativ's murderer actually tried to kill seven-year-old Yair Gamliel as well. But unlike Nativ, the first grader managed to escape with a fractured skull.
Nativ of course was not the first child to be brutally murdered by Palestinian terrorists. Kobi Mandell and Yosef Ish-Ran were also 13 when they were stoned to death by a mob as they gathered wood for a bonfire in 2001. In 2003 five-month-old Shaked Avraham was shot in her crib by a Palestinian terrorist who pushed his way into her home. In 2002 five-year-old Matan Ohayon, four-year-old Noam Ohayon and their mother Revital Ohayon were murdered in their home in Kibbutz Metzer.
And the list goes on and on and on.
It takes a special type of person to murder a child. And it takes a special type of society to support such behavior. Palestinian society is a special society. It has become routine, indeed it has become expected that in the aftermath of successful murders of Israelis - including children - Palestinians distribute candy in public celebrations.
In 2002 for instance, when word got out about the terrorist who barged into Nina Kardashov's bat mitzva party in Hadera and massacred six people, the masses took to the streets in neighboring Tulkarm to celebrate. That particular attack was carried out by a Fatah terrorist employed by the US-trained Palestinian Authority security forces. The Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) and the IDF now reportedly believe that Nativ was also murdered by a Fatah terrorist.
TO CELEBRATE the terrorist murder of children and to glorify child murderers as heroes is to celebrate and glorify the nullification of life - or at least the life of the target society. This is the case because at the most basic philosophical level, children represent the notion that life is intrinsically valuable. Since children haven't yet had the chance to accomplish great and lasting things for humanity, all they can give us is the promise of a future.
The fact that Palestinian terrorists target children specifically - both inside and outside the 1949 lines - and that Palestinian society celebrates their murder tells us that the two foundational assumptions upon which Obama and his supporters base their policies toward Israel and the Middle East are false. It is not the absence of a Palestinian state that stands at the root of the conflict, and it is not the presence of Israeli communities, or "settlements," beyond the 1949 armistice lines that renders the conflict intractable.
Instead, the root of the conflict is the Arab world's rejection of Israel's right to exist - regardless of its size. And the reason the conflict is intractable is because hatred of Israel and Jews is so deep and endemic in both Palestinian society and the wider Arab world that they view the very existence of Jews - including Jewish children - in Israel as an unacceptable affront to their sensibilities. Indeed, the Jewish presence both within and beyond the 1949 armistice lines is so unacceptable that murdering Jews at every opportunity is perceived as an acceptable and indeed heroic undertaking.
THIS BEING the case, the question necessarily arises, why are these basic facts so assiduously ignored by people like Obama who should know better? Why did Sen. John Kerry, who chairs the US Senate's Foreign Relations Committee, say in late February, "Nothing will do more to make clear our seriousness about turning the page [in US relations with the Arab world] than demonstrating - with actions rather than words - that we are serious about Israel's freezing settlement activity in the West Bank?"
Why did Secretary of State Hillary Clinton attack Israel during her visit last month for lawfully destroying illegal Arab houses in Jerusalem?
Why are Obama's supporters from Peace Now to the Arab League to The Washington Post and Haaretz editorial boards urging him to coerce the Netanyahu government to accept a complete halt to all building activities for Jews in Judea and Samaria?
The answer unfortunately is that in their actions, Obama, his colleagues and supporters are not motivated by facts. Instead they are motivated by a desire to ignore the facts. They wish to believe that the existence of Israeli communities in Judea and Samaria is a primary obstacle to peace because doing so allows them to ignore the fact that the reason there is no peace is because Palestinians and their Arab and Iranian brethren refuse to peacefully coexist with Israel regardless of its size. Accepting such bitter realities would make it impossible for them to move forward with their agenda of appeasing the Arab world because it would force them to acknowledge that the Arab world is unappeasable.
And that's the thing of it. At base, the so-called settlements are nothing but an excuse for appeasers to curry favor with the Arabs by blaming Israel for the absence of peace while ignoring the Arabs' bigotry, hatred and aggression. What these Israeli communities represent is nothing more than an assertion of Israeli rights to land - whether that land is within or beyond the 1949 armistice lines. If these communities didn't exist - as they no longer exist in Gaza - then a surrogate, such as the IDF which protects other Israeli land, would be found to replace them.
And if the IDF weren't around - as it isn't in Gaza or in southern Lebanon - then the appeasers would blame another surrogate, such as the Israeli naval quarantine of Gaza, or Israel's control over the town of Ghajar along the Lebanese border for the Arabs' bigotry, hatred and aggression against it.
Here it should be noted that there is no difference in principle between the way the likes of the Obama administration and its supporters treat Israel and the way they treat the US and its non-Israeli allies. When on Sunday Obama responded to North Korea's launch of a long-range ballistic missile by announcing that he wishes to all but disarm the US of its nuclear arsenal, he was effectively arguing that US strength is to blame for North Korea's aggression. He did what amounts to the same thing when he apologized to the Iranian regime for supposed US arrogance. By Obama's lights, now that the US is humble, the Iranians may one day stop calling for its destruction, waging war against it in Iraq and Afghanistan and building a nuclear arsenal.
Then too, when Denmark's Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen reportedly agreed to apologize to the Islamic world for Denmark's independent Jyllands-Postens 2005 publication of cartoons of Muhammad in exchange for Turkish support for his candidacy for NATO secretary-general, he was accepting that it is Western civilization - with its freedom of speech - that is to blame for Islamic aggression and intolerance.
In the end then, the truth exposed by Shlomo Nativ's brutal murder on Thursday in Bat Ayin is twofold. First, it demonstrated that the so-called settlements have no relevance whatsoever to the intractability of the Arab-Israeli conflict. When your enemy hates you so much that he hacks your children to pieces, there is nothing you can do, short of committing suicide, that will appease him.
Second, it reminded us of what appeasement places at risk. By attempting to appease the unappeasable, all that successive Israeli, American and European governments have done is strengthen our enemies at the expense of our security and freedom.