There is no such thing as a “revenge attack,” updated again.


I first formulated this idea in response to the murder of Muhammad Abu Khdeir, who was beaten and burned to death in 2014. In that post, I wrote that the framing of a “revenge attack” is in an absurd and inappropriate way to frame what happened. I reposted an updated version of the piece in the fall of 2014, after two Palestinian men went on a violent rampage in West Jerusalem and murdered four men while they were praying in a Synagogue in Har Nof.

It is with a heavy heart, that I feel compelled to post it again, after seeing a number of people, mostly on social media, either justifying or playing down the murders of Eitam and Naama Henkin, near the settlement of Itamar, and as they drove in a car with their four little children, and the murders of Aharon Bennett and Nehamia Lavi in the Old City of Jerusalem yesterday.

May their memories be a blessing.

May their murders not be downplayed or brushed over, even by those who have strongly staked out a “side” in this issue: empathy ought not to have ethnic boundaries.

May their murders not lead to more murders, by those who would falsely and sickly claim to be seeking “revenge.”


The framing of this horror as a “revenge attack” buys into a narrative of collectivist Eye-for-an-Eye-ism, ie., The Arabs killed Jews so The Jews take revenge on The Arabs. That’s it. It is the same logic used by Hamas to justify their bombing of a passover seder filled with elderly Holocaust survivors (Baruch Goldstein had recently committed his own act of massacre against Palestinians). It was the same logic used by many to frame Goldstein’s actions (Goldstein was reported to have been distraught over friends of his who had recently been killed by Palestinian attackers).

In this logic, there are no individuals, no human beings, and everyone is pared down into two groups. And if this is a “revenge attack,” then the kidnapping and murder of the three Jewish boys was also surely a “revenge attack” for something done by The Jews at some juncture. Everyone who murders other people has grievances for which they are exacting revenge.

It is an easy framing, a comfortable framing, and an awful framing which should be rejected entirely from our discourse.

May we see better days in this broken city, and everywhere.