It’s simply not possible to cheer for the brigade commander who shoots a Palestinian teenager, and then be shocked by settlers who throw a firebomb at an inhabited house.By Gideon Levy
Israelis stab gay people and burn children. There isn’t a shred of slander, the slightest degree of exaggeration, in this dry description. True, these are the actions of a few. True, too, that their numbers are increasing. It’s true that all of them – all the murderers, everyone who torches, who stabs, who uproots trees – are from the same political camp. But the opposing camp also shares the blame.
All those who thought that it would possible to sustain islands of liberalism in the sea of Israeli fascism were shown up this weekend, once and for all. It’s simply not possible to cheer for the brigade commander who shoots a teenager, and then be shocked by the settlers who set a family on fire; to support gay rights, and hold a founding conference in Ariel; to be enlightened, and then pander to the right and seek to partner with it. Evil knows no bounds; it begins in one place and quickly spreads in every direction.
The first breeding ground of those who torched the Dawabsheh family was the Israel Defense Forces, even if the offenders didn’t serve in it. When the killing of 500 children in the Gaza Strip is legitimate, and doesn’t even compel a debate, a moral reckoning, then what’s so terrible about setting a house on fire, together with its inhabitants? After all, what’s the difference between lobbing a fire bomb and dropping a bomb? In terms of the intention, or the intent, there is no difference.
When the shooting of Palestinians becomes an almost daily occurrence – two more have already been killed since the family was burned: one in the West Bank, another on the border of the Gaza Strip – who are we to complain about the fire throwers in Duma? When the lives of Palestinians are officially the army’s for the taking, their blood cheap in the eyes of Israeli society, then settler militias are also permitted to kill them. When the IDF’s ethic in the Gaza Strip is that it is permitted to do anything in order to save one soldier, who are we to complain about right-wingers like Baruch Marzel, who told me this weekend it was permissible to kill thousands of Palestinians in order to protect a single hair from the head of a Jew. Such is the atmosphere, such is the result. Original responsibility for it goes to the IDF.
No less to blame, of course, are the governments and politicians who vie with each other over who can suck up the most to the settlers. Whoever gives them 300 new homes in exchange for their violence at the flagship settlement of Beit El is telling them not only that violence is permissible, but also that it pays. It is already hard to draw the line between throwing bags of urine at police officers and fire bombs into people’s homes.
Also to blame, of course, are the law enforcement authorities, starting with the Judea and Samaria District Police – the most ridiculous and scandalous of all police districts, and not by chance. Nine Palestinian homes were torched in the past three years, according to B’Tselem. How many people have been prosecuted? None. So what happened in Duma on Friday? The fire was simply better, in the eyes of the arsonists and their minions.
Their minions also include the silent, the forgiving and all those who think the evil will remain forever within the confines of the West Bank. Their minions also include the Israelis who are convinced that the People of Israel is the chosen people, and as a result is permitted to do anything – including torching the homes of non-Jews, with their inhabitants inside.
So, too, many of those who were shocked by the act, including figures who have visited the victims in Sheba Medical Center, outside Tel Aviv – the president, the prime minister, the opposition leader and their aides – imbibed the racist, infuriating “You have chosen us from all the peoples” with their mothers’ milk.
At the end of a terrible day, it is this that leads to the burning of families whom God did not choose. No principle in Israeli society is more destructive, or more dangerous, than this principle. Nor, unfortunately, more common. If you were to examine closely what is concealed beneath the skin of most Israelis, you would find: the chosen people. When that is a fundamental principle, the next torching is only a matter of time.
Their minions are everywhere, and most of them are now tsk-tsking and expressing dismay at what happened. But what occurred couldn’t have not happened; what happened was dictated by the needs of reality, the reality of Israel and its value system. What happened will happen again, and no one will be spared. We all torched the Dawabsheh family.
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