About once a month, my wife and I spend the Sabbath at her family's  home.

We're both atheists while they're very religious - settlers living  in the west bank town of Efrat near Bethlehem. Even so, for seven years  we've managed to put aside politics and religion, and get along for the  sake of family.  


That is, I keep quiet for family's sake. While there are no discussion  "taboos", it is quite clear to me, that if my interest is keeping good  relations with my wife's family, it would be better to fight my battles  elsewhere.

So I sit, and shut up. When the racism starts spilling about  arabs, about obama being a "dumb arab nigger" whose out to destroy  Judaism, about the secular liberals who in their blindness help the  arabs, about the "light of Judaism in front of the darkness of the  gentiles" – I turn into a fish.

I take solace in knowing that as long as  the conversation doesn’t steer towards politics or religion, visits  there are actually quite pleasant.  I should note that on the personal level they've never tried to push  religion down my throat, never ask me to come to prayer, never question  me about my beliefs. They have come to accept their daughter as an  atheist, and I as her husband get the same treatment.

This Saturday was no different. Playing with the kids, reading to them,  regular family conversation with the occasional racist comment that I'v  learned to swallow. It seems to me sometimes like they've completely  forgotten what my views are.  

Religious jews are forbidden to turn the TV or radio until Saturady  evening, so right upon ending the Sabbath, they turned on the radio and  heard the news.

 It turns out that this Friday evening, a Palestinian managed to  infiltrate into the Jewish west bank settlement of Itamar near Nablus.

 He found a house with an unlocked door, entered, and slaughtered a  family of five in their sleep with a knife. Among the murdered were two  infants- their throats slit. The bodies were discovered at midnight by  the family's 12 year old daughter who came home late and found her whole  family dead.  The murdered family was my wife's sister's neighbors.

The sister began  crying, naturally, her children began crying. I stood there, and could  not feel anything.  Eight years ago the exact same thing happened in her settlement- a  Palestinian jumped the fence and gunned down a family – her neighbors...  He set the house on fire and the local municipality decided to leave it  as it is so people will remember.

Every day my wife's sister's kids  wake up in front of a burnt home across the street - so they'll remember  what the arabs just outside the fence did to them. She moved there  after the event. She moved there on purpose, to one of the more violent  and dangerous settlements in the west bank- in order to take part in the  struggle for the land of Israel.

And now she was crying for her  neighbor in horror as if she never expected this to happen.  My wife's mother lost it completely, she screamed with a hate I never  heard before. "Those secular Jewish Nazis! This is all because of them!  Because of them we haven't deported the arabs and allow them to murder  us! The government tears down our homes (illegally built caravans) while  letting these animals murder us!"  

Like I said, they've completely forgotten who their daughter is, who I am. It was insane. I told my wife we need to get out of there immediately. My wife's dad  and brother came and apologized, they were very embarrassed. The truth  is indeed embarrassing sometimes.

The murder in Itamar is horrible, but I can't help but feel that this is  the price Israel will continue paying for its insistence to occupy the  west bank. Driving to Itamar on family visits, it is impossible to  ignore the roadblocks, army posts, jeeps, patrols, guard towers – a huge  prison set up so that my wife's sister can keep living her pastoral  life in her beautiful little hillside settlement, scarred only by burnt  home across the street.  

Talking to the settlers is futile. They think of themselves as the most  moral people on the face of the earth. The ultimate victims, bearing the  burden of being god's chosen people, fulfilling his commandments by  living in the land he gave them in the bible, and having to pay the  terrible price for it.

 They are blind to all interests other than their own, they simply don't  see the suffering of others- the prison they have created for the  Palestinians.

And when the Palestinians fight back- they are labeled  animals, murderers.

Suddenly all the holier than thou theists jump up  and say- "see?! We can't make peace with them... we have to keep the land  in order to stop terrorism". Bullshit.

We've had almost ten years of  quiet in the west bank, and no one here even began thinking of  withdrawal. The absurd thing is that the only time the common Israeli  thinks about ending the occupation is after a terror attack- in that  sense, terrorism pays. It seems to be the only way to get our attention.  

Every year things here get worse. The occupation isn't just turning  Palestinians against jews, but mostly the Israelis against each other.

 It's becoming more and more common among theists to label atheists and  people voicing their opinions against the occupation as traitors  deserving prosecution and even death. Some rabbis aren't afraid of  saying it anymore. Settlers have begun escalating their struggle with  the government, attacking arabs in retaliation to jewish outposts  destroyed by the army. There's even talk of killing soldiers who come to  destroy outposts.

 The occupation awoke the insanity of nationalist Judaism from its 2000  year old slumber. Last time, it ended with the country splitting in two,  and I have no doubt it will happen again.

Views: 59

Comment by Scarlette Blues on March 13, 2011 at 2:51pm
Thank you for posting your story. Although I currently do not have an opinion on this subject, your blog has encouraged me to look into it. Once again, thank you! :)
Comment by Heather Spoonheim on March 13, 2011 at 6:07pm
Yes, thank you. I don't think it's possible for people over here in North America to even begin to understand what is going on there. Your post is poignant and really offers a valuable insight.
Comment by Gaytor on March 13, 2011 at 7:21pm

Wassabi, as a person living in a country with a river of blood on its hands as well, I'm passing no judgement. What does your mother-in-law think of the disparity of the murders if you include military or police actions versus Palestinian violence? Does she rationalize it all as justified? The continued push for land and booting of people out of their homes for being non-Jewish. She sees this as a decree or requirement from God? I saw it here growing up around a few racists (not your simple ignorance based racism). It's almost as if they walk through life with blinders and refuse to recognize a second side to the story. 

I hope that the continued push to conservative politics gets quashed soon, somehow, for Israelis. It seems the world is beginning to actually take note and eventually the protectionism from the US at the UN will dry up due to it's expense. A cornered Israel won't be good for anyone. I hope that rationality can prevail.  

Comment by Alejandro M on March 13, 2011 at 9:17pm



Colour me surprised: "fight back" is killing a 3-year-old and a baby? (Do not add "innocent" here as it is a redundancy). It is because of people like you who make a moral equivalence of fighting with soldiers vs armed civilians (which is the ONLY thing that Israelis do - if they sometimes kill innocents it is ALWAYS by mistake or unintended), and killing innocent people (which is what "Palestinians" do) that we are as we are. 


Idiots. That is what people who defend "palestinians" are. Idiots, because it is an invented demography (thus the inverted commas), not even supported by Arabs (who built a wall in the frontier with Egypt WAY before the so-called "wall of shame") and used as ammunition by the Arabs who find the israelis the scapegoat of their own corruption and incompetence.



Comment by Heather Spoonheim on March 13, 2011 at 9:31pm
Rant indeed.  Very strong words considering the proximity of the author to the events.
Comment by Gaytor on March 13, 2011 at 10:41pm

Fantastic perspective. Israelis are innocent, always. How about the Palestinian children whom have to be protected by the Israeli Army from Settlers? These innocent people move into an area then cast stones at children. Care to retract the Soldiers only assault claims? 


How about the random shooting of a blindfolded and handcuffed prisoner by and Israeli soldier caught on tape. Humane treatment doled out by innocents?


The accidental shooting at Palestinian protesters by settlers, as they chase them down the hill.


Notice that what I'm bringing up is simply the stuff that isn't subject to debate. Clear aggression by Israelis. Violations of human rights. There is never only one side. Your notion that only an idiot would defend a Palestinian is intellectually dishonest as well as inhumane. Your language and tone is repugnant and emboldens those on the fence. "palestinians" "it is an invented demography" Why not say niggers aren't people? What's the difference in the sub-human treatment? What group is not an invented demography at one time? Why are they invented? Does it have to do with being a people that have to organize because they are not being treated fairly? 


Comment by Kenneth Montville D.D. on March 13, 2011 at 10:48pm

Wow. That's a handful indeed, Wassabi. The Israeli occupation of Palestine was the first human rights issue I was ever involved in and one that is still one that I am active with. Very powerful story.


As for Alejandro M. Here's some stats for you: 124 Israeli children have been killed by Palestinians and 1,452 Palestinian children have been killed by Israelis since September 29, 2000. Who kills more children?


1,084 Israelis and at least 6,430 Palestinians have been killed since September 29, 2000. Who kills more people?


9,226 Israelis and 45,041 Palestinians have been injured since September 29, 2000. Which side is more violent?


During Fiscal Year 2009, the U.S. is providing Israel with at least $8.2 million per day in military aid and $0 in military aid to the Palestinians. Who's the real underdog in this fight?


Israel has been targeted by at least 65 UN resolutions and the Palestinians have been targeted by none. Which side is most likely in the wrong here?


1 Israeli is being held prisoner by Palestinians, while 5,935 Palestinians are currently imprisoned by Israel.


0 Israeli homes have been demolished by Palestinians and 24,813 Palestinian homes have been demolished by Israel since 1967.


Israel currently has 236 Jewish-only settlements and ‘outposts’ built on confiscated Palestinian land. Palestinians do not have any settlements on Israeli land. Who is occupying whose home?


Statistics Last Updated: February 2, 2011
Comment by Wassabi on March 14, 2011 at 5:30am

For Alejandro M, perhaps it wasn't apparent from my post – I'm not justifying anyone. Yesterday the Israeli facebook filled with uncensored images of the murder. Close up images of slaughtered children are just about the most horrible thing a person can see. And yes, there is of course the clear difference between Israeli soldiers trying to do everything not to cause civilian casualties, and Palestinians deliberately targeting civilians. I served in the army, I know what really goes on, and I'm well aware of difference between the sides. You're probably used to dealing with people brainwashed by al-jazeera propaganda, and I don’t blame you, it can be pretty frustrating.

But this is not the case.


The Israeli society is not a single unit. You have your secular government, and you have your religious nationalists- who have a lot of power. The 67' occupation was never intended at first to become the monster it grew to be. It was supposed to be a bargaining chip for peace with Jordan as stated by moshe dayan right after their capture.


But the religious right saw it as revelation and fulfillment of a divine promise. Many people simply went nuts. While indeed most of the 200 thousand settlers living in the west bank are not religious, and would evacuate if compensated- the core group leading the continued occupation are the religious fanatics. They have the power to tear the country in two, and are simply holding the country hostage.


You have to understand that terrorism is not the issue. These people will NEVER give up the land god gave them. They will NEVER sign any peace treaty. I once heard a rabbi say  - "thank god the Palestinians are barbarians and child murderers, imagine how we'd been able to justify our struggle if they were all pacifists?"


Like I said previously, the west bank has been quiet for years, since Arafat died, the new government has shown they are serious about peace. (talking only about the west bank- not gaza, which is controlled by doom's day fanatics). We hadn't had a suicide bombing in a very long time, mostly because of the Palestinians taking actual measures to enforce the law.


But with the ball finally in Israel's court- the truth finally began coming out. No current government is able to end the occupation without risking civil war. The people living in itamar where yesterday's murder happened are doing everything in their power to insure not only continued occupation- but escalation as well. It's all part of their stated agenda – the desire to turn Israel into a theocracy.

Comment by Alejandro M on March 14, 2011 at 9:13am
Wassabi, thank you for your words. I see your points, and I apologize for my earlier rant, it was 100% caused by what you describe - brainwashing by Al Jazeera and the likes (ehem, ehem, "ifamericansknew.org").
Comment by Mo Trauen on March 14, 2011 at 12:10pm
Wow, that is some amazing stuff.  It's great to see the unvarnished truth--even when the truth is not great.  I try to tell people that religion is insanity and the siamese twin of racism, but they don't seem to hear me--sometimes even other non-believers.  The more people who tell the truth about it as you have, the better for a civilized, secular future.  Human history will continue to be a series of horrific tragedies until we all realize that we are one race and that there is no magic man in the sky whose favor we should fight over.


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