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July 12, 2014
By Uri Avnery
Source: Gush Shalom
BOMBS ARE raining on Gaza and rockets on Southern Israel, people are dying and
homes are being destroyed.
Again without any purpose. Again with the certainty that after it’s all over, everything
will essentially be the same as it was before.
But I can hardly hear the sirens which warn of rockets coming towards Tel Aviv. I
cannot take my mind off the awful thing that happened in Jerusalem.
IF A gang of neo-Nazis had kidnapped a 16-year old boy in a London Jewish
neighborhood in the dark of the night, driven him to Hyde Park, beaten him up,
poured gasoline into his mouth, doused him all over and set him on fire – what would
Wouldn't the UK have exploded in a storm of anger and disgust?
Wouldn't the Queen have expressed her outrage?
Wouldn't the Prime Minister have rushed to the home of the bereaved family to
apologize on behalf of the entire nation?
Wouldn't the leadership of the neo-Nazis, their active supporters and brain-washers
be indicted and condemned?
Perhaps in the UK. Perhaps in Germany.
THIS ABOMINABLE atrocity took place in Jerusalem. A Palestinian boy was abducted
and burned alive. No racist crime in Israel ever came close to it.
Burning people alive is an abomination everywhere. In a state that claims to be
“Jewish”, it is even worse.
In Jewish history, only one chapter comes close to the Holocaust: the Spanish
inquisition. This Catholic institution tortured Jews and burned them alive at the stake.
Later, this happened sometimes in the Russian pogroms. Even the most fanatical
enemy of Israel could not imagine such an awful thing happening in Israel. Until now.
Under Israeli law, East Jerusalem is not occupied territory. It is a part of sovereign
THE CHAIN of events was as follows:
Two Palestinians, apparently acting alone, kidnapped three Israeli teenagers who
were trying to hitchhike at night from a settlement near Hebron. The objective was
probably to use them as hostages for the release of Palestinian prisoners.
The action went awry when one of the three succeeded in calling the Israeli police
emergency number from his mobile phone. The kidnappers, assuming that the police
would soon be on their tracks, panicked and shot the three at once. They dumped the
bodies in a field and fled. (Actually the police bungled things and only started their
hunt the next morning.)
All of Israel was in an uproar. Many thousands of soldiers were employed for three
weeks in the search for the three youngsters, combing thousands of buildings, caves
The public uproar was surely justified. But it soon degenerated into an orgy of racist
incitement, which intensified from day to day. Newspapers, radio stations and TV
networks competed with each other in unabashed racist diatribes, repeating the
official line ad nauseam and adding their own nauseous commentary – every day,
around the clock.
The security services of the Palestinian Authority, which collaborated throughout with
the Israeli security services, played a major role in discovering early on the identity of
the two kidnappers (identified but not yet caught). Mahmoud Abbas, the PA president,
stood up in a meeting of the Arab countries and condemned the kidnapping
unequivocally and was branded by many of his own people as an Arab Quisling.
Israeli leaders, on the other hand, called him a hypocrite.
Israel’s leading politicians let loose a salvo of utterances which would be seen
anywhere else as outright fascist. A short selection:
Danny Danon, deputy Minister of Defense: “If a Russian boy had been kidnapped,
Putin would have flattened village after village!”
“Jewish Home” faction leader Ayala Shaked: “With a people whose heroes are child
murderers we must deal accordingly.” (“Jewish Home” is a part of the government
Noam Perl, world chairman of Bnei Akiva, the youth movement of the settlers: “An
entire nation and thousands of years of history demand: Revenge!”
Uri Bank, former secretary of Uri Ariel, Housing Minister and builder of the settlements:
“This is the right moment . When our children are hurt, we go berserk, no limits,
dismantling of the Palestinian Authority, annexation of Judea and Samaria (the West
Bank), execution of all prisoners who have been condemned for murder, exile of
family members of terrorists!”
And Binyamin Netanyahu himself, speaking about the entire Palestinian people: “They
are not like us. We sanctify life, they sanctify death!”
When the bodies of the three were found by tourist guides, the chorus of hatred
reached a new crescendo. Soldiers posted tens of thousands of messages on the
internet calling for “revenge”, politicians egged them on, the media added fuel, lynch
mobs gathered in many places in Jerusalem to hunt Arab workers and rough them up.
Except for a few lonely voices, it seemed that all Israel had turned into a soccer mob,
shouting “Death to the Arabs!”
Can anyone even imagine a present-day European or American crowd shouting
“Death to the Jews?”
THE SIX arrested until now for the bestial murder of the Arab boy had come straight
from one of these “Death to the Arabs” demonstrations.
First they had tried to kidnap a 9-year old boy in the same Arab neighborhood,
Shuafat. One of them caught the boy in the street and dragged him towards their car,
choking him at the same time. Luckily, the child succeeded in shouting “Mama!” and
his mother started hitting the kidnapper with her cell phone. He panicked and ran off.
The choking marks on the boy’s neck could be seen for several days.
The next day the group returned, caught Muhammad Abu-Khdeir, a cheerful 16-year
old boy with an engaging smile, poured gasoline in his mouth and burned him to
(As if this was not enough, Border Policemen caught his cousin during a protest
demonstration, handcuffed him, threw him on the ground and started kicking his head
and face. His wounds look terrible. The disfigured boy was arrested, the policemen
THE ATROCIOUS way Muhammad was murdered was not mentioned at first. The fact
was disclosed by an Arab pathologist who was present at the official autopsy. Most
Israeli newspapers mentioned the fact in a few words on an inner page. Most TV
newscasts did not mention the fact at all.
In Israel proper, Arab citizens rose up as they have not done in many years. Violent
demonstrations throughout the country lasted for several days. At the same time, the
Gaza Strip frontline exploded in a new orgy of rockets and aerial bombings in a new
mini-war which already has a name: “Solid Cliff”. (The army's propaganda section has
invented another name in English.) The new Egyptian dictatorship is collaborating with
the Israeli army in choking the Strip.
THE NAMES of the six suspects of the murder-by-fire – several of whom have already
confessed to the appalling deed – are still being withheld. But unofficial reports say
that they belong to the Orthodox community. Apparently this community, traditionally
anti-Zionist and moderate, has now spawned neo-Nazi offspring, which surpass even
their religious-Zionist competitors.
Yet terrible as the deed itself is, to my mind the public reaction is even worse.
Because there isn’t any.
True, a few sporadic voices have been heard. Many more ordinary people have
voiced their disgust in private conversations. But the deafening moral outrage one
could have expected did not materialize.
Everything was done to minimize the “incident”, prevent its publication abroad and
even inside Israel. Life went on as usual. A few government leaders and other
politicians condemned the deed in routine phrases, for consumption abroad. The
soccer world cup contest elicited far more interest. Even on the Left, the atrocity was
treated as just another item among the many misdeeds of the occupation.
Where is the outcry, the moral uprising of the nation, the unanimous decision to
stamp out the racism that makes such atrocities possible?
THE NEW flare-up in and around the Gaza Strip has obliterated the atrocity altogether.
Sirens sound in Jerusalem and in towns north of Tel-Aviv. The missiles aimed at
Israeli population centers have successfully (up to now) been intercepted by counter-
missiles. But hundreds of thousands of men, women and children are running to the
shelters. On the other side, hundreds of daily sorties of the Israeli Air Force turn life in
the Gaza Strip into hell.
WHEN THE cannon roar, the muses fall silent.
Also the pity for a boy burnt to death.