Call It What It Is: Murder

I am not usually inclined to use this space for what others might call a “rant.” But this day, I feel there are some points that need to be made.

Today, Hamas claimed responsibility for the murders of four Israeli settlers along a West Bank road. One good friend of mine questioned why I use the term “murder” rather than killing. Another good friend spoke of the need to put the killings in “context” of occupation and the ongoing crimes attached thereto.

The car that was shot up in the West Bank today

And so, I was motivated to write, because when I hear these things from good people I start to wonder about our moral compass.

Why is this murder? Well, it seems to me when gunmen ambush a car full of civilians (yes, even if the civilians are criminals) and shoot them to death in cold blood, outside of anything that could remotely be called a combat situation, that’s murder.

Settlements are criminal; they are impediments to peace and encroachments on land that does not belong to Israel. They cause enormous human rights violations to Palestinians. But those who live in them have not thereby forfeited or in any way diminished their right to keep their lives.

I don’t see, quite frankly, what is so complicated about this. Hamas’ diabolical act today was not an act of desperation. It was not a cry from an oppressed and occupied people. It was a calculated act of murder, intended to further Hamas’ political goals. Was their goal, as many assume, to derail the direct peace talks before they even got started? Was it, as Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum “…meant to highlight the failure of the security cooperation between the Palestinian Authority and Israel?” Whichever it was, the tool Hamas chose to further their goal was murder. Continue reading