It is almost ghoulish to compare the deaths of children in war. They were not responsible for the situation in which they found themselves, and they did not deserve their fate. In a healthy society, such deaths are mourned without regard for the children’s nationality, or the politics and misdeeds of their parents.
Is there a difference between the infant Ali Saad Dawabshe, murdered in his house in the West Bank village of Duma, and Shalhevet Pass, murdered in her stroller by a sniper? Or between Mohammed Abu Khdeir (16), murdered in revenge for the killings of three Israeli teens, and theFogel children, Yoav (11), Elad (4) and Hadas (3 months), murdered in their beds, along with their parents? Or Einat Haran (4), forced to watch her father killed before having her head smashed against a rock? Or the Schijveschurrder children, Ra’aya (14), Avraham Yitzhak (4) and Hemda (2), murdered in the Sbarro Pizza bombing along with their parents and ten other people, including two more children? Or Eyal Yifrah, Gilad Shaar, Naftali Fraenkel, murdered on their way home from school for Shabbat?
To the perpetrators, no.
To the societies from which the murderers came, the difference is a chasm. Not every Israeli or every Palestinian had the same reaction, but the differences in their leadership was striking.
The Palestinian Authority (PA) arrested trained sniper Mahmud Amru, a member of the Palestinian Tanzim — an armed offshoot of Fatah, founded by Yasser Arafat — for the murder of 10-month-old Shalhevet Pass, but released him. Arrested then by the Israelis, Amru was sentenced to three life terms. Voice of Palestine Radio later claimed the baby was killed by her mother.
Ali Saad Dawabshe, murdered last week in his house in the West Bank village of Duma.
Fatah and Hamas separately honored the Sbarro Pizza bombing perpetrator, Izz Al-Din Al-Masri. Official PA TV News reported that the murderer “gave his soul for the struggle of a nation that strives for freedom,” and described the terrorist’s funeral as his “wedding” to the “72 Virgins in Paradise, the great reward Islam promises to those who die as Martyrs for Allah.”
Palestinian Authority-linked websites claimed the murderers of the Fogel children were “foreign workers” and not Palestinians. Two Palestinians teenagers were arrested, and reenacted the murder for Israeli police, saying, “We killed Israelis and Jews.” Although they appear to have done the deed on their own initiative, they were affiliated with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), and had received “considerable help” from family and friends before they were arrested. In a later indignity, gruesome images of the dead Fogel children appeared on the “Free Palestine” website, labeled as Palestinian children killed by Israel.
Samir Kuntar murdered Einat Haran and her father, but was released in a prisoner exchange and welcomed as a hero in Lebanon. In 2008, Kuntar received the Syrian Order of Merit, the highest award Syrian President Bashar Assad could bestow. [According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), 11,717 children have died thus far in the Syrian civil war.] In 2009, it was Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s turn, and Kuntar received an award from him in Tehran. Kuntar was finally dispatched a last week.
Dalal Mughrabi, organizer of the Coastal Road Massacre that killed 37 Israelis, including four children under six (Erez Alfred, Ilan and Roi Homan, Liat Gal-On and Naama Hadani) had a public square named in her honor in the West Bank. “We are all Dalal Mughrabi,” declared Tawfiq Tirawi, a member of the Fatah Central Committee, at the dedication.
The murderers of Yifrah, Shaar and Naftali were hidden by supporters in the West Bank for months, and the Palestinian Authority Facebook page featured a cartoon showing the three boys as rats on fishing hooks. During the search for the murderers:
Palestinians walked near Jews waving three fingers, signifying the three kidnapped students; staged “reenactments” of the kidnapping with the boys portrayed as soldiers; and gave candy to their children to celebrate. Children from a Hamas summer camp were used as the vanguard of a mob that attacked a group of Jews on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. During that time, Palestinians were told toplace multiple calls to the Israeli Police emergency number to stymie any real calls that might come in. When the Israeli government announced it had suspects, one suspect’s mother said, “I will be proud of him until Judgment Day. If… it is true… My boys are all righteous, pious and pure. The goal of my children is the triumph of Islam.”
After the bodies of the boys were found, teenager Mohammed Abu Khdeir was murdered by three revenge-minded Jews. The admission unified Israelis in their revulsion to the act and to the perpetrators. One prominent religious Zionist rabbi called for the death penalty. (Israel has no death penalty, but Judaism does). There was unanimity from the prime minister to thedefense minister to the leader of the nationalist Bayit Hayehudi Party, to the mother of one of the murdered Israeli teens, who denounced the revenge killing, to an uncle who paid a condolence call on Abu Khdeir’s family.
This weekend in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, thousands of Israelis protested the murder of the baby Ali Saad Dawabshe (and the stabbings of six participants in Jerusalem’s Gay Pride parade by a member of an Orthodox community). Saad Dawabshe, the uncle of Ali, participated in the Tel Aviv rally. The Prime Minister of Israel visited the family in the hospital.
Remember the names of the children, how they were mourned by their communities and how their murderers were treated in their own societies: Who became pariahs and who became heroes.