Howard F Jaeckel

The Murder of Lucy, Maia and Rina Dee — And the West’s Reaction

Although the murder of innocent civilians by Palestinian terrorists is always profoundly shocking, no matter how ungodly common it becomes, there is a special pain about the recent murder of two young sisters, Maia and Rina Dee, ages 20 and 15, along with their mother, Lucy. One thinks of the incomprehensible grief felt by the father and husband, Rabbi Leo Dee, whose life, at the start of what was supposed to be a family vacation in Tiberias, was shattered. One can almost not bear to watch the news footage showing the girls’ sisters and brother at their funeral, their anguish inconsolable.

The pain we feel over the stolen lives of these young girls is sharp and fresh, but even the special horror of the murder of siblings is not unique. Already, with barely a quarter of this year gone, there have been two other families that have suffered such unfathomable losses.  Yaakov and Asher Paley, aged 6 and 8, and Yagel and Hallel Yaniv, aged 19 and 22, were murdered by terrorists in February.

In her recent column, “An Unspeakable Atrocity,” British writer Melanie Phillips notes that what makes this searing tragedy all the more unbearable is the pallid reaction of so much of the West.  In this regard, she quotes Israel’s former ambassador to the United States, Michael Oren, who tweeted as follows:

The British government was “saddened to hear about the deaths of British-Israeli citizens and the serious injuries sustained by a third individual” and called on “all parties to de-escalate tensions”. No mention of Palestinians or terror, no outrage. The sisters merely “died” and a third person was somehow injured. The citizens are not really British but a qualified “British-Israelis.” And “all” parties, including the Israeli victims, are urged to de-escalate.   Shame on Britain.

Writing in spiked, Brendan O’Neill was scathing. Noting the use of the passive voice in both government and media descriptions of the killings to avoid naming the perpetrators, O’Neill also decried the “moral depravity” of the “woke” left’s reaction. The response to a tweet asking that people share a picture of the Israeli flag in memory of the victims was, O’Neill says, a “cesspit”:

People posted images of the Israeli flag in flames, the flag being trampled on, the flag as toilet paper. There were laughing emojis and yawning emojis.  . . .

Under the BBC’s tweet about Maia and Rina’s funeral, one respondent said they ‘shouldn’t be there in the first place’. ‘Not a smart idea to go settle [in] occupied land’, laughed another. ‘Occupiers dead’, said one. The cruelty of it all is unsettling.

In sum, O’Neill writes, the “British silence on the massacre of these three British citizens is a new nadir in moral cowardice.”

I was glad to learn that my government did issue a condemnation through the US State Department. But it  did not include any information about the victims and the circumstances, and therefore did not evoke the horror and outrage that are appropriate.

The State Department would say, I am sure, that it is not its job to arouse people’s emotions.  Well, why not, if we truly abhor what was done, and will fashion our policies accordingly?

I agree with Brendan O’Neill that such incidents must be personalized if they are to be truly understood.  As he wrote, “the faces of the murdered mother and her young, aspirational daughters. . .  call into question the hyper-racial depiction of Zionists as a wicked, abnormal people, and reveal that, in truth, some of them look and sound a lot like us.”

Do we want to obscure the victims’ humanity to avoid questions about whether our policies smack of appeasement?  If the Israelis kill or imprison the perpetrator[s] of this atrocity, the  Palestinian Authority will, consistent with its past practice, make pension payments to the families of those responsible.   The PA has outright rejected whatever soto voce requests the US has made to discontinue this revolting practice.

And, although the PA pensions have been paid for years, in March 2022 the State Department announced that Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken would meet with Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah and provided the Palestinians with an additional $75 million in US aid.  The State Department’s very long statement made no mention of the PA’s pension payments to the families of murderers.

Compare and contrast the 45-minute tongue-lashing that Hillary Clinton  gave Benjamin Netanyahu, at the direction of President Barack Obama, when interim approval of 2,000 housing unit in Jerusalem was announced, possibly at the instance of a left-wing member of the relevant Zoning Commission, during a visit to Israel by then-Vice President Biden.  In a later interview, Secretary of State Clinton said “the prime minister’s decision calls into question his commitment to the US-Israel relationship.”

How to explain all of this?  It is because the worldwide left sees Israel as a white, colonial oppressor and the Palestinians as the oppressed.  What’s more, the Palestinians are at summit of the “intersectional” good/evil grid, having been designated “people of color,” however Caucasian many of them may be.  Most significant of all is the credo that “my enemy’s enemy is my friend,”  which causes the left to identify with Islamists, however horrific their treatment of women and homosexuals. The left hates the West, its freedom, its culture, the fact that it hasn’t made them happy.

And in the United States, however reluctant American Jews may be to acknowledge the evidence in front of their eyes,  the ugly truth is that the left has captured the Democratic Party, which so fears losing  votes from any part  of its  precious “base” that it has become utterly subservient to the party’s totalitarian wing.  Recall that the Democrats in the House of Representatives found themselves unable to condemn one of their number, Ilhan Omar, after she suggested that Jews had purchased the U.S. government with their “Benjamins,” i.e., $100 bills, on which the portrait of Benjamin Franklin appears.  In fact, the Democrats were unable even to pass a resolution plainly condemning anti-Semitism, contenting themselves with an anodyne statement decrying “all forms of racism,” or some such pap.

I’m an American, and as such the American universalist ideal has a strong hold on me.  I thrill to our national motto, “E Pluribus Unum” – “Out of Many, One.”

But recent events have left me feeling mighty particularistic.  That feeling, and my rage at the the clear tilt to the Palestinians of Democratic administrations,  fairly  compelled me to send the below letter to President Biden, although I know it will make not a whit of difference. Sometimes one just has to let them know —  even if it’s only the functionaries who deal with the potentates’ mail – how one feels.

Dear Mr. President:                                                    April 11, 2023

Recent days have brought news of new atrocities by Palestinian terrorists.

In one incident, an Israeli mother and her two daughters, aged 16 and 20, were ambushed by gunfire as they drove along a road in the Jordan Valley, causing their car to crash, after which the terrorists approached and murdered the three with multiple rounds of machine gun fire at point blank rage.

In the other incident, a Palestinian terrorist drove his car into a group of Italian tourists, killing one and injuring six.

If there has been any condemnation of these murders from the Palestinian Authority, I missed it.  Any such condemnation seems unlikely, since the P.A. continues to pay pensions to the families of Palestinians who have committed such murders when they are imprisoned or killed by Israel.

Despite your full knowledge of these facts, your administration continues to provide substantial aid to the Palestinians. And in one of the first acts of your administration, you recognized the P.A., with which the Trump administration had broken relations.

As an American, your actions make me angry and ashamed. As a person with close relatives in Israel, they make my blood boil.

As in any war, innocent people have suffered on both sides, and that includes innocent Palestinians. But those who by their words or actions rationalize or tolerate terrorism, whether they are ordinary civilians or presidents, forfeit their claims to innocence. The blood on the killers’ hands also stains their own.

I quote Albert Camus, not to suggest that there is the slightest bit of justice on the side of Palestinians who press their cause by violence. I quote him only in an attempt to underline the depth of my feelings on this matter:

“People are now planting bombs in the tramways of Algiers. My mother might be on one of those tramways.  If that is justice, then I prefer my mother.”

You should end all aid to the Palestinian Authority. Unless you do that, please pay me the respect of not sending me a form non-response to this letter.


Howard F Jaeckel

About the Author
Howard F Jaeckel is a retired American lawyer who worked for a major broadcasting company for many years. He has a longstanding interest in constitutional law and has followed the issue of judicial reform in Israel closely.
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