The abduction and murder of three Jewish teenage rabbinical seminary students – Gil-Ad Sha’ar, Eyal Yifrach and Naftali Frankel – in the occupied West Bank three weeks ago put Israeli society on fire. The Israeli government had seemingly known they were murdered from the start but kept insisting they were abducted and might still be alive, leading to an unprecedented terror campaign against Palestinian civilians in the West Bank. Media photographs of ransacked houses and seemingly useless searches, among other things, in children bedrooms, stoked Israeli Jewish rage. It meant nothing that the Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas condemned the abduction; as far as the most right wing Israeli government since the establishment of the state was concerned, Abbas and his political partners Hammas were to blame and there was no point in continuing the farcical ‘peace process’. Yet, even though many Israelis do not support the settlers, the abduction made headline news, focusing on ‘our boys’ who had to be released at all costs. When the dead bodies of the three young men were found, Israel was awash with a wave of grief, rage and hatred. Gangs of young right wing Israelis poured onto the streets of Jerusalem and other cities chanting ‘death to the Arabs’; a Facebook page calling to ‘kill all Arabs’ had thousands of ‘likes’ within minutes of being posted. And very soon after the bodies were discovered, a young Palestinian boy Mohammad Abu Khdeir was abducted and burnt alive in the Jerusalem suburb of Shuafat by a group of settlers. I extend my condolences to the parents of the four murdered young men, but it enrages me that Israel is depicted as a peace loving, family and children-oriented society, while the Palestinians are described as heartless, wild and uncaring. The vengeful demonstrators refuse to acknowledge that more than 2,500 Palestinian minors were arrested by the Israeli military between January 2010 and June 2014, 400 of whom aged 12-15. According to Euro-Mid Observer for Human Rights, 20% of these children were detained for up to 30 days, 75% experienced torture, 95% admitted to crimes they didn’t commit, and 25% were kept in lengthy administrative detention. Since the boys were abducted 2,000 Palestinian houses were raided and 550 Palestinians arrested, some of them children. And the cycle of violence goes on: Israel is currently in the midst of a vicious military attack on Gaza, supposedly in response to the rockets fired from there, but actually as an act of revenge and further ethnic cleansing. One wonders why the attack has been launched just now, even though rockets and air bombardments have been routine for the past few months. One also wonders why the Israeli security forces hid the knowledge they had that the boys were killed – was it in order to conduct its murderous raids throughout the West Bank? One also wonders why the world’s media is buying Israeli hasbara lies that the massacre of Gaza, which to date murdered at least 2,127 Palestinians (1,723 civilians) and injured 10,744, among whom many children, women and elders, demolished some 5,000 houses , and left some 350,000 people displaced (figures updated as well as I can) is simply in retaliation against Hamas rockets. Do we seriously expect Gazans, living under closure for years, not to resist? And why is the West colluding, why is the western press insisting that this appalling onslaught is about Israel’s right to defend itself, and that Hamas is to blame? How much longer can this massacre continue, while the world is looking on?
Finally, let’s remember that the wave of hateful revenge within Israel society – against Israel’s Palestinian citizens, abut also against Israeli Jewish protesters – is not only the work of Jewish extremists, or of ‘bad apples’. I agree with Professor Marcelo Svirsky who wrote on his Facebook page: “The tens of thousands ‘liking’ on Facebook the calls to kill Palestinians, the mob marching on Jerusalem’s streets and looking for Palestinians to lynch, the murderers of young Mohammad Abu Khdeir, and the demands to annihilate Gaza are being portrayed in the press as ‘weeds’, marginal people. They do not understand that the socio-cultural land where these weeds grow are the hundred years of colonisatory Labour Zionism, the commitment to a Jewish state, the compulsion to serve in the army, the moral commodification of the holocaust – in a word, these are not weeds but the trees and flowers of Israeli consensus’.