According to the Israeli law system, if you’re an Arab and you beat a Jew to death, you’re a murderer. But if you’re Jewish and you stab an Arab, that’s manslaughter
Some 18 months ago, the country was outraged when Leonid Arik Carp, a resident of Ramat Aviv, was attacked by a gang of youth, while he was trying to protest his daughter from their molestation. Carp was savagely beaten, and later dies of his wounds. Three of his assailants were charged with murder (Hebrew); in a highly unusual move, four others were charged with failing to provide Carp with aid. The whole affair had a clear racist tinge, with the media – and the poisonous replies – focusing on the fact that the attackers were a group of Israeli Arabs, accompanied by two Jewish girls, one of whom was an IDF soldier; the story quickly became that of violation of Jewish blood. Many people claimed Carp’s murder was a nationalistic lynch. Carp, it should be remembered, was attacked by blows, slaps and kicks (Hebrew).
About two weeks ago, a gang of four Orthodox Jews, two of them settlers, attacked (Hebrew) Hussam Rwidi, and one of them slashed him to death with a razor. That, at least, is what the police suspects them of; we should keep in mind that the Carp murder suspects have yet to be convicted, and should be suspicious when the police claims it has a confession, in a country where interrogators are prosecuted for torture and where cops caught lying on the witness stand routinely return to duty, unpunished. According to the police, the murder of Rwidi was, at least in part, nationalistically-motivated: Rwidi was chosen as victim since he spoke Arabic, hence identifying himself as a member of the lower race. Palestinians claim – those claims should also be viewed with caution – that the assault began with the cries of “death to Arabs”. Later, says the police, two of the attackers were arrested while trying to dispose of the murder weapon, at the request of the murderer.
And yet, the prosecution will charge the stabber only with manslaughter, not murder (Hebrew). The fact he began the fight because of his victims’ ethnicity somehow become irrelevant. The fact that unlike the killers of of Arik Carp, he was in possession of a sharp instrument is also considered irrelevant. It is noteworthy that even though the stabber’s friends aided him, and that two of them were involved in an attempt to dispose of the weapon, does not cause them to be charged with assisting murder, or even in failing to prevent a crime or failing to provide Rwidi with aid.
The police claims the assault began as pre-mediated assault, which devolved into a fight, which ended in a stabbing. This argument would surely apply to Carp’s attackers as well – but in Carp’s case the prosecution made a case for murder, and indicted the people who were not involved in the attack itself. I am not a jurist, but common sense indicates that if you pull out a blade during a fight, you should know there’s a chance it’ll end in death – a significantly more reasonable assumption than when you attack someone with fists and kicks. Even so, that’s the decision taken by the prosecution. Selective enforcement? A wink to the right-wing? Evil be to him who evil thinks.
The behavior of the Israeli media is also noteworthy. Carp’s murder was described as a lynch and as a nationalistic attack, even though there’s no good reason to think it was. Rwidi’s murder, on the other hand, was described as a “drunken brawl”, even though it was evidently a terror attack. It disappeared from the media in record time – admittedly, under a gag order and while important international events happened in the background. And yet, no one tried to find out who the girlfriends of the four pogromchiks are, and we’ll probably won’t hear any shocked muttering about them dating such human trash. Ah, the benefits of being a member of the Chosen People.
Update: The prosecution changed its mind and decided to charge the stabber with murder, not manslaughter. His accomplices will be charged with grievous bodily harm. (Hebrew)