Reports in the Israeli media talk of arrests of Jewish suspects in the abduction, torture and burning to death of 16 year old Muhammed Abu Khdair from Shu’fat in Alquds, Jerusalem. The associated Press also reported on this here. At the time of writing Haaretz’s Barak Ravid confirmed this.
The first reaction that this triggers is an absolute condemnation of those in Israel, right from the top of the political elite who had the temerity to suggest, the murder of Mohammed was a criminal rather than terrorist act.
Some suggested this could have been, what they called an ‘honor killing’ because Mohammed might have been gay. The hurt this must have caused Mohammed’s family must have been immense as Israeli officials tried to divert attention from the real reason behind the killing, Jewish terrorism. The reason given for suggesting this possibility was that as a ‘democracy’ and a state that operates under the ‘rule of Law’, the state needed to keep all options open. That it was important to establish whether this was a criminal act, committed by Palestinians or one driven by a nationalistic motive, committed by Jews.
There was never any doubt in the minds of Palestinians and in particular the family that Jewish terrorists kidnapped and murdered Mohammed.
The horrible last hour of Mohammed’s life is unthinkable. He was burnt alive.
When Palestinians are suspected of violence against Jews, there is no equivalent process of keeping an open mind’. It is immediately a ‘terrorist act’, the suspects are ‘terrorists’ and invariably members of the ‘terrorist’ group, Hamas and they are wanted dead or alive. No distinction is drawn between acts against civilians and members if the security forces.
When three Israelis went missing on 12 June, it was immediately assumed that this was a terrorist act and the suspects, who are still missing, were declared terrorists and member of Hamas. It is important to note also that their homes were blown up by the IDF. The suspects have not been found but over 600 Palestinians are under arrest as a result of the killings.
The anger that followed the two sets of killings on both sides is understandable. Each of the deceased belonged to a family. They are grieving but also ‘their side’ is grieving too. However, it is heartening to see shared grief for all four young people, particularly from their closest relatives.
In wider society the situation is very tense. The two crimes have further deteriorated the fragile coexistence that exist between Jews and Palestinians wherever they gone into contact with each other.It has to be said that Palestinians in Jerusalem are particularly vulnerable to attacks by extremists on busses, trains and in shops and restaurants. There are a number of disturbing clips on social media confirming this, see here.
The worrying aspect for me today is that the anger is not subsiding. Clashes have become daily both in reaction to the deaths and also where the IDF continues to invade Palestinian towns and villages, to destroy and to pillage. The Palestinian Authority has been conspicuous by its absence. Hardly any words have come out to show Palestinians that they have a leadership who is working for them. The most ‘significant’ announcement gas been that Saeb Erekat has pulled out FTP a ‘peace conference’ due to take place in Tel Aviv next Tuesday as ‘ a sign of respect’ for recent events. The Palestinians ask why he was going in the first place?
Chief Palestinian Negotiator, Saeb Erekat
But what about Israeli society? For years, its leaders have presented the conflict to them as one sided and as us against the terrorists’. They have resisted labelling Jewish violence with ‘nationalistic’ motives as terrorism. They accepted the ‘price tag’ label for settler terror, rather than call it what it is and deal with it. This has emboldened the terrorists and their terrorism has escalated both on the West Bank and other are areas of historic Palestine.
Behind this resistance to using the word ‘terror’ must be a realisation that because Israel will not deal with Jewish ‘terror’ in the same way as they do with Palestinian ‘terror’ it risks being further exposed for the racist, Apartheid state that it is. Will it for example trash their homes, beat them up, torture them, deny legal representation & family visits? And will it demolish their homes for being suspects? In the sane way as Palestinians were cynical about the effort the Israeli authorities would put into the search for Abu Khdair’s murderers, they will be cynical about they way the investigation will be dealt with.
Israeli society can say enough is enough. It can Acknowledge that years of incitement to hatred of Palestinians by the state have brought increased violence and is bringing up a whole generation that thinks and acts in a racist manner with impunity. They elected the leaders that brought this about.
Will Israeli society now speak up and accept that Jewish terrorism is back and demand it is eradicated or will they carry on thinking that this crisis will soon be over and they can return to a ‘normal’ life? Normal being the occupation and oppression of a whole People. Normal meaning sending their sons and daughters out everyday to play their shameful part in this. The standing if their state and of them as a society continues yo deteriorate and can only improve if they act decisively. This begins with the insistence that Jewish terrorism is eradicated and that the occupation must end.