A horrific crime occurred in Cheshire, Conn., in 2007. A family—Jennifer Hawke-Petit and her daughters, 11-year-old Michaela and 17-year-old Hayley—were butchered and burned, while Dr. William A. Petit, Jr, was beaten to within an inch of his life. The crime was committed in the comfort and safety of the Petits’ homes by two ruthless men who allegedly set out only to rob the house, not commit murder. There are few things more tragic than seeing families being massacred senselessly, and we rightfully cry out, voice shock and outrage, and demand a full measure of justice for the people who committed the crime.
The report of this murder went viral. Just about every media outlet rightfully picked it up and offered insight and indignation. The two killers, even though they claimed not to have intended to commit murder, were demonized in the media as crazed killers. Protests were mounted calling for a return of capital punishment. The New York Times itself offered considerable space to this tragedy, which it called “a brutal invasion” and a “gruesome” crime. That is what it was and remains to this day. The second of the murderers will be tried soon. The other was already tried, convicted and sentenced to death. When the New York Times reported on the first sentence, it referred to “horrific attacks” and explained why the second killer deserved the same fate.
Perhaps, then, I misunderstood what happened last weekend in Itamar, Israel. The same New York Times that rightfully called the murders in Cheshire horrific seemed to take a more balanced approach to the death by bludgeoning of a family of five asleep in their homes Friday night.
The Arab terrorists involved in the Itamar tragedy conducted a brutal home invasion, including horrific attacks on an entire family and left behind a gruesome scene, perhaps equally if not far more brutal-looking than that in Cheshire. Yet the Times simply stated that the “assailants” “stabbed five members of the family to death in their beds.”
The Fogels – Udi, 36, and Ruth, 35, Yoav, 11, Elad, 4, and Hadas, a baby girl of 3 months—were stabbed, had their throats slit and were left to die in pools of their own blood for their 12-year-old daughter to come home and find.
What would alarm the world from Connecticut received passing concern when from Israel. Life is not equal, and the treatment of the criminals is not, either. The message is that when you kill a Jew in Israel, especially a Jew living in a West Bank settlement, it is okay. The New York Times called the murderer a “Palestinian attacker,” as if he pushed someone and stole a wallet. The ruthless killers in Cheshire allegedly did not go to that home with intent to kill, yet they were portrayed as brutal murderers in the Times and everywhere else. Whoever carried out the attacks on the Fogels had murder in mind from the start—including the murder of a 3-month-old infant—yet he (or they) is portrayed by the beacon of journalistic balance as a “Palestinian attacker” making a political statement.
The weak coverage and the lack of outrage over such brutality underlie a deeper concern, yet to keep harping on the point of bias and politics is pointless; the Wall Street Journal’s Bret Stephens said it well enough. The issue we must look at is the cheapening of blood when it comes to political or religious debate. Does frustration over land warrant brutal murder? If the same Palestinian attacker committed a home invasion murder in the United States feeling that the home belonged to him, would we just brush it off as ideological debate? This was a very personal crime committed by someone who either has killed before or will kill again; someone who is dangerous and ruthless, and who does not value life, and is likely known as such by those familiar with him. He killed a family as they slept, and slit the throat of an infant; slaughtered like animals and the New York Times chalks it up to a protest.
Where’s the humanity? Where is the justice? Where is the outrage? It certainly exists for the killers.