It was a most brutal act of violence. A mother and her two young sons gunned down in the boys' bedroom as she read them a bedtime story. She tried to shield her children, but the terrorist managed to finish all of them off, murder two more Israelis outside their home and then escape. Yet some would contend that this cruel massacre at Kibbutz Metzer last Sunday night would have been acceptable had the community been located a few hundred meters west, across the Green Line in "occupied" Palestinian territory. Morality measured with a yardstick.
Kibbutz Metzer is a dovish Jewish community located just inside Israel along the old 1949 armistice line with Judea/Samaria, north of Tulkarm. Even as a Fatah gunman slipped into the kibbutz late that evening on his deadly mission, the European Union was co-sponsoring talks in Cairo between the two main rival Palestinian factions - Fatah and Hamas - in hopes of securing a timeout in suicide attacks inside Israel.
Many Israelis share a sense that the EU, by coordinating the talks alongside Egypt, has impliedly adopted the position now espoused by some Fatah leaders that attacks against Israeli soldiers and settlers in the territories are legitimate acts against "occupation," while suicide missions targeting civilians inside Israel are harming Palestinian national interests at the moment.
Worried that it might be giving the wrong impression, the EU dispatched special Middle East envoy Miguel Moratinos on Tuesday to lay a wreath at the funeral for the mother and two sons slain in the Kibbutz Metzer attack. Would he have done the same if the family had been from the nearby settlement of Hermesh?
Meanwhile, Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat is reported to have ordered up an investigation of the incident, with Palestinian Authority officials already suggesting the Fatah militiaman made a "mistake" in thinking the kibbutz was located over the Green Line.
At the same time, Arafat's official radio broadcasts reported that five "colonists" had been killed in an "armed attack on the colony of Metzer." That very day, the unsuccessful attempt by two suicide bombers to infiltrate Israel near the same kibbutz was reported as a "heroic martyrdom operation."
It is also worth recalling that the last time Fatah and Hamas reached an "understanding" on how to unite in the struggle against Israel, it was in Cairo as well, in late 1995. That unwritten agreement created a division of labor between the two factions, with Fatah and the PA pursuing diplomatic gains through Oslo, while Hamas was given the green light to continue their terror campaign, so long as it did not "embarrass" the PA. Thus, for a short while, suicide bombers were recruited from Arab villages still under Israeli security control and few claims of responsibility were issued for attacks.
Nonetheless, the Europeans are investing much time and energy in trying to secure from these same gangsters a temporary pan-Palestinian truce that would still allow for the murder of any Jew caught in the West Bank or Gaza Strip.
This shameful attitude towards the value of Israeli lives was also reflected in the recent rejection by EU Commissioner Chris Patten of a parliamentarian's request that he launch an official probe into persistent reports that EU funding to the PA has been diverted for terrorist purposes. Patten insisted he needed such an investigation "like a hole in the head."
Israelis have reason to bristle not only at these abysmal European stands, but also at the double standard imposed by the US in conducting the war on terrorism. According to various Bush Administration officials, America can launch pre-emptive air strikes on al-Qaida operatives in the Yemeni outback, but it is "unhelpful" if Israel does the same to ruthless Palestinian killers planning more carnage.
No less than US Secretary of State Colin Powell explained the difference over the weekend; asked by CNN whether the US still opposes Israel's targeted killings of Palestinian terrorists following the recent CIA rocketing of the al-Qaida cell in Yemen, Powell responded, "We believe that there are significant differences. This was a case of clearly somebody engaged in a direct conflict with the United States."
This is the same Powell who, testifying last year before a congressional panel on US policy towards the armed intifada, embraced the perverse adage that "one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter."
In comparison to Israel's reserved response to such diplomatic drivel, it is interesting to observe the way Russian President Vladimir Putin has just gone ballistic at similar Western suggestions he should go easy on Chechen terrorists. During the just-completed EU-Russia summit, Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen said the conflict in Chechnya could not "be regarded only as a terrorist problem." When a journalist later questioned the Kremlin's crackdown in Chechnya at an end-of-summit press conference, Putin boiled over.
"If you want to become an Islamic radical and have yourself circumcised, I invite you to come to Moscow," blurted out Putin.
"They talk about setting up a worldwide Caliphate and the need to kill Americans and their allies," Putin continued. "They talk about the need to kill all ... non-Muslims, or 'Crusaders,' as they put it. If you are a Christian, you are in danger..."
The fuming Russian leader added these "so-called freedom fighters" could threaten to "capture our nuclear facilities or other vital or publicly dangerous facilities... I believe either we are together treating such activities or we are in for big trouble."
Beyond the blunt rhetoric, Putin showed no mercy in the recent storming of the Moscow theatre held by Chechen rebels. Reports also indicate that the Chechen home of one of the female suicide bombers inside the theater has been demolished. Russia learned this effective counter-terrorism measure from Israel, who learned it from the British.
Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon was equally blunt when he visited Kibbutz Metzer soon after the recent shooting spree. "The terrorism [that we face] does not distinguish between children, women, men, settlers, soldiers - it makes no differentiation. It discerns only one thing: Who is a Jew for it to kill."
When it comes to jihad terrorists, Islamic suicide bombers and their quest for weapons of mass destruction, it is time for the US and Europe to realize that one man's terrorist is every man's terrorist!