With Netanyahu’s hints at revenge, his imperviousness toward the rage surrounding the murder of Muhammad Abu Khdeir and his complete absence in the Israeli media, the prime minister is a party to the growing Jewish-Arab animosity.
Instances of violence between Jews and Arabs are piling up: the video from the bus in Tel Aviv, reports of ‘price tag’ attacks, police violence, continued protests in Shuafat, protests in Wadi Ara and the Triangle, and there, overnight, a few Jewish drivers were reportedly attacked.
In contrast to the Palestinians, the Jewish public hasn’t been exposed to the horrifying details of Muhammad Abu Khdeir’s murder because of a court gag order. As usual, consumers of Hebrew-language news media are spared the context and the other side simply becomes rioters.
It’s not a deterioration on the scale of the events of October 2000 but things aren’t headed in a good direction; the weight attention news and social media are giving a few incidents contributes to a sense that things are getting out of control, which becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Anybody sitting in front of Facebook all day will likely be convinced that marauding rioters are on ever corner and that people are being lynched on an hourly basis.
The most remarkable phenomenon, however, is the complete absence of any leadership on the Israeli side — especially the prime minister and the police brass. As Raviv Druker pointed out, if the Israel Police had carried out its investigation into the murder of Abu Khdeir as transparently and publicly as possible, the Jewish public would understand why the level of rage among Palestinians at the moment is the same that the Jews are feeling, and the Palestinians would at least be a feeling that the case was getting some attention. But instead of all that, the police helped spread rumors blaming the victim. It couldn’t have been any worse.
The prime minister has lots of tools at his disposal — from giving a speech to the nation to a paying a condolence visit to the Abu Khdeir family — that could have been used irrespective of the killers’ identity. Netanyahu has not even condemned the Jewish violence and calls for revenge; instead he mumbled something about Israel being “a nation of laws.” It feels like a bad joke, on both sides. Netanyahu hasn’t answered a single question from an Israeli reporter since the kidnapping. The Israeli public just doesn’t interest him.
Netanyahu is known as restrained prime minister, and it is possible that somebody else in his chair would have already sent tanks into Gaza. When it comes to relations between Jews and Arabs, however, he is an expert at administering poison. His use of a Chaim Bialik quote, “vengeance for the blood of small child,” after the discovery of the teens’ bodies and his subsequent silence surrounding the current deterioration in Jewish-Arab relations is just one example.
Maybe the hit he’s taking in the polls will change something.
Read this post in Hebrew on Local Call.