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The Killing of Hallel Ariel – An American Perspective


By Linda Wesson

Not long ago a lovely thirteen year old girl named Hallel Ariel was killed by a seventeen year old boy named Muhammad Taraireh. He broke into the settlement home where she lived and murdered her in a vicious knife attack. There is never a good enough reason for killing an innocent person, whether from Israelis on the occupied Palestinians or vice-versa. It may be because of a very sick mind, and I do believe that this was the case in the killing of Hallel Ariel. I’m finally writing about this because it has taken me a while to gather my thoughts.

The killer was a boy whose mind was obviously troubled. I condemn his actions and look for contributing factors. A teenager’s common feelings of alienation can be easily manipulated into much worse, whether by those who spread hate, or by the young person’s own lack of wisdom, and often both. The environments Muhammad Taraireh lived in and near are loaded with fear, resentment and danger. Muhammad Taraireh had dropped out of school and was disturbed about the recent death of a cousin who was killed in another conflict related to Palestinian resentment over Israeli occupation. Taraireh lived in a poor village in close proximity of a new Israeli settlement.

It was reported that Muhammad Taraireh “infiltrated” the Israeli settlement where he murdered the girl named Hallel. Imagine living on land the ownership of which is so disputed there needs be armed soldiers guarding the residents at all times. One’s home location usually depends on where a person can afford to live or proximity to where a person works. It is also dependent on where a person is allowed to live, or where a child is brought to live.

None of this is the fault of an innocent child. It is extremely unfair that a child should lose their life by the hatred of others, especially by another just four years older whose life was also then taken. It is all a huge waste.

However, it has happened before. I am reminded of the death of another precious and beautiful thirteen year old girl, Smadar Elhanan, who also lost her life by the actions of crazed young Palestinians who made a suicide attack in Jerusalem where she was killed. The grandfather of the murdered girl had been a promoter of peace after he retired from being an Israeli general. By the time of his granddaughter’s murder, he had mercifully passed away. He did not have to live through seeing this terrible event. What would he have said? Somebody had killed the granddaughter of a peace activist, so of course the news media was very interested in the reaction of the family. Shockingly, the mother blamed the policies of the Israeli government, and perhaps their habit of rewriting history and taking away what they wish, to call their own.

A very civilized man who survived the Holocaust died a few days ago. It’s sometimes difficult to tell who is civilized and who is not, but I would say Elie Wiesel was quite civilized. Mr Wiesel was blessed with much suffering and a good and long life. He would have been about 16 years old when he and his father were sent together to a concentration camp by the German government. The father became very ill and was brutalized and died perhaps a year later, maybe less.

Elie Wiesel was involved in quite a few humanitarian causes. He kept the memory of the Holocaust alive, especially so this type of thing might not happen again. He appeared before the UN Security Council to speak about the crisis in Darfur. He shone a light on the Armenian genocide. Also to Mr Wiesel’s credit was his voice on matters such as South African apartheid, Argentina’s “disappearing people”, and the Bosnian genocide of the 1990s. He spoke out against Netanyahu’s decision to deport 400 children of migrant workers from Israel. Yet, it may be that Elie Wiesel had a blind spot, as we all have our blind spots. For all his caring about exterminated and displaced people, Elie Wiesel did not seem to acknowledge Palestinian expulsion or genocide.

Benjamin Netanyahu took time to make a public broadcast to tell of the murder of Hallel Ariel on the day the horrific deed happened. He wanted to assure the nation of Israel that the “unspeakably evil” terrorists will not prevail and talk about how they must be fought. It sounded a bit in the vein of an often quoted verse which speaks of killing Jews wherever they are found. It sounded every bit like a call for a technologically advanced and civilized people to exterminate trouble-making barbarians. He did not speak of any dialogue between the broader public. No, he is done with that. Netanyahu’s own experience as a general within the Israeli Army has taught him that there is no reasoning with these people.

On this occasion, Netanyahu reached out across the ocean, using the English language. Yes, the girl had dual citizenship and was also an American, and on issues that relate to the United States, Mr Netanyahu posts or speaks English in social media. On matters of importance more directly relating to the Jewish people of Israel, the medium he uses is usually Hebrew. I logically see that Mr Netanyahu was wishing to address the American people as well as the Israelis on this matter. In response to his video, I see comments from Americans filled with much sympathy for the nation of Israel. This appears to be as much confirmation of Christian faith as regret over the loss of a girl’s life.

Mr Netanyahu says: “They will not get us out of here, and they will not break our spirits – we will deepen our roots and reinforce the settlement.” This is something Palestinians might also say.
Muhammad Taraireh, a disturbed seventeen year old boy infected with hate and rage, has done a horrific thing and now becomes an “unspeakably evil” dead man. Netanyahu has tied Taraireh’s name with mass murdering terrorists in Orlando, Florida and Brussels. Conversely, Taraireh will also be held up as a martyr for those that embrace hate. Even his mother might say he is a martyr, because what mother would want their child to die for something as meaningless as revenge?

Meanwhile, Miko Peled, son of the late Israeli General Mattiyahu Peled and uncle of murdered thirteen year old Smadar Elhanan, has been learning and working to educate on the subject of Palestinian displacement and genocide. He continues his father’s legacy to promote peace and educate on facts determined inconsequential by many. These facts do not support the narrative of the life of a King David who is an actor in three holy books, originating from that same troubled land which has been politically carved and re-carved over the last few thousand years.

Each of these holy books reflects the others to some degree, but each is seen through more than a few different political lenses. In regards to Christians, Muslims would like to reveal how Jews “truly” feel about them (the Christians). They share videos on the internet of Israeli Jews ridiculing Christianity while receiving billions of dollars in American aid to help keep the Israeli Army strong enough to not only repel Palestinian attacks but also to bomb innocent Gazans to smithereens. I’ve never heard a native Arab use the slang word “smithereens”, but surely this has been done. There is nothing new under the sun.

As an American, I am a bit reminded of the written recording of attacks by enraged Native-Americans on the settlements at the edge of “civilization”. The natives were very savage in their attacks. The victims were killed in the most brutal ways. Babies’ skulls were broken as their heads were smashed against stones. When I was a child, there were countless movies depicting the terror elicited by the natives’ drums beating at night, signalling an imminent attack to come the next day. In reality the enemy often just quietly “infiltrated”. But in the movies the whites were surrounded, and in those movies it appears many times there is no hope until we hear the bugle of the US Army coming to save the the settlers. In reality, soldiers were in those days also invading and destroying native settlements and exterminating, in vain, those natives and future generations. The famously defeated General Custer perhaps got what was coming to him, but where does revenge end? Even each military general may have a different idea.

Another American tragedy has been the condition of race relations between whites and African Americans who were once slaves on plantations. At these properties they lived in shacks while the white masters lived not far away in mansions. Even today, the pain of those days corrupts and makes relations awkward. We are still apart. Passed down are the stories of rapes and whippings. Passed down are stories of times when black rage exploded and revenge was taken against the suppressors, and horrific things were done. Still we struggle.

There is nothing new under the sun. Literally nothing, I think. It’s all old and many times repeated lies and truths told in books and movies. Under the developed brain of the human lies the primitive brain of the serpent. God save us all, if you are a believer.


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