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Israel's extremists aren't as fringe as you think

If a video of religious youth stabbing a photo of a murdered Palestinian infant isn’t enough to convince mainstream Israel that there is a problem, what will?

Celebrants at a Jerusalem wedding for a couple from Israel’s radical right were filmed dancing and singing as they brandished a photo of Ali Dawabsheh, the 18 month-old Palestinian baby who was killed in a July arson attack on his family home in the West Bank village of Duma.

In the video, which was recorded on a cell phone, a dancing wedding guest impales a photo of the baby on a knife. His face is covered. Other dancers wave army-issued combat weapons, while one youth hoists a bottle with a roll of paper stuffed in its neck to mimic a molotov cocktail, indicating the method by which the Dawabsheh home was set alight.

The Duma attack killed baby Ali at the scene, while his parents died of their wounds in the hospital a few weeks later. Only his four-year-old brother survived, albeit with severe burns. The story was widely covered by the Israeli media and was condemned by leaders on both sides of the political spectrum.

Hebrew graffiti on the walls of Duma dwellings indicated that the arson was a “price tag,” a term used by “hilltop youth” to describe their attacks on Palestinian villagers. Some of the notorious recent price tag incidents include an arson attack on a bilingual Arab-Jewish school in Jerusalem and death threats graffitied on the homes of leftist intellectuals. There are dozens of amateur videos on YouTube that show these masked Hilltop Youth assaulting unarmed Palestinian villagers in the West Bank, burning their olive trees and destroying their property. Everyone knows who they are and what they do.

But while Kahanists are well known to security forces and the Shin Bet, months passed before any arrests were made. There are now several suspects in custody. According to a report published by the Jewish Daily Forward, a liberal Jewish newspaper in New York, relatives and attorneys of the detainees say they have been subjected to torture while under interrogation and that they are being held without charge under administrative detention.

The Forward reporter, Josh Nathan-Kazis, notes that the Shin Bet commonly uses torture and administrative detention on Palestinians, while it is very uncommon to hear of these interrogation methods used on Jewish detainees. But the Shin Bet apparently sees these particular Jews as fair game, since they are “anti-Zionists” who want to “violently overthrow the Israeli government.”

Official condemnations of the video came quickly. Netanyahu, Yair Lapid, Isaac Herzog, Tzipi Livni and Chief Rabbi David Lau all conveyed their shock and horror to the news media, or via their Facebook statuses.

Even the parents of the groom insisted, in an interview broadcast by Channel 2, that they didn’t know who these masked guests were and they’d never heard the song that accompanied their dance with knives. This, despite the fact that that particular song is heard at every religious national wedding. It is as standard as “Hava Nagilah” at a Jewish wedding in the United States.

You’d think, based on these vociferous condemnations, that no one had ever seen Kahanists enthusiastically and publicly espousing violent racism. Celebrating the murder of a baby is an obvious indicator of pathological hatred, yet these people and their acts of hatred have been well covered by the media. Two years ago, at another wedding, we see an almost identical scene — masked hilltop youth dancing with knives and singing a Hebrew version of the Horst Wessel Lied.

On that occasion, Hebron settler leader Bentzi Gopstein was marrying off his daughter and Channel 2’s Ohad Hemo was there to report. No one tries to hide their views. When Hemo asks Gopstein whether there are any Palestinian wait staff at the wedding hall, Gopstein answers smugly that he checked to make sure there were no Arabs there. At 1:39 he says, “If there were Palestinians here they would not be serving food. They would be in the hospital.”

When incidents of radical settler violence are broadcast by the television news, one invariably hears predictable condemnations from every direction. The news presenter who introduces the story about the racist wedding celebrants for Channel 10 calls their actions “pure hatred” and “Jewish terror.” Look at her face at 1:21, after the wedding video is shown. She can’t hide her horror and revulsion.

But the official condemnations are disingenuous at best. De facto, the settler ideologues are deeply embedded in the Israeli security and political establishments.

Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, who is from the right-wing nationalist Jewish Home party, allegedly met with the mother of one of the American detained suspects in the Duma arson attack to discuss her son’s claims that he had been tortured by the Shin Bet. The idea of Palestinian parents of detainees having access to an Israeli government minister is inconceivable. Even when the media and the security establishment calls them “terrorists,” the hilltop youth are treated better than Palestinians. Because they are Jews.

So while the political and security establishments pay lip service to condemnations, their actions indicate what they really believe: that Jews who commit the radically violent, inconceivably hateful act of deliberately murdering a baby and his parents while they sleep — and then celebrate the act at a wedding — are not quite as evil as the Palestinians who murdered a sleeping Jewish family while they slept at their home in the West Bank settlement of Itamar.

The message is that the Palestinian murderers of Jewish children are representative, while the Jewish-Israeli murderers are sick, marginal outliers who are rejected by “mainstream” Israel.

This is an ideé fixe one hears pretty much all the time in Israel, including from mainstream liberals. Yes, they say, we have some horrible rotten apples among us, but when they commit acts of wanton violence against Palestinians — like the Dawabsheh murders or the 2014 abduction and immolation of Mohammed Abu Khdeir — we condemn it and feel really, really bad about it. But when Palestinians murder Jews, goes the relentlessly repeated received wisdom, people celebrate on the streets of Ramallah and hand out sweets to children.

Don’t bother trying to tell them they’re wrong, that Palestinian society is just as complex as Jewish Israeli society. It won’t help to remind them that Jews sat on a hilltop overlooking Gaza and cheered as they watched the Israeli army bombard the coastal territory in 2009, 2012 and 2014, killing hundreds of children along with adult non combatants. They’ll flap a hand at you and tell you “that’s different.”

You’d have an easier time trying to convince a Trump supporter that President Obama should hand out Green Cards to all the undocumented Mexicans living in the United States.

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    COMMENTS

    1. Israel did not stop the publication of the King’s Torah (Torat Hamelech), a warped interpretation of the Torah that justified the killing of non-Jewish babies. Israel did not jail the authors, Rabbis Yitzhak Shapira and Yosef Elitzur, for incitement. It looked the other way for years as price tag terrorists destroyed Palestinian property and scrawled “Death to Arabs” graffiti. It is only now, when it is apparent that these thugs pose a danger to Israel’s government, that Israel is starting to take measures against them.

      The sore was allowed to fester way too long. Israel is reaping what it has sown.

      Reply to Comment
    2. Ben

      This interesting piece connects a lot of dots. We are reminded of how many times right wing commenters tell us that “yes, we have our idiots, but they are outliers you see, unlike them….” And yes, we too have learned and relearned how fruitless it is to try to tell them they are wrong.

      Reply to Comment
      • Gustav

        And Benny’s point is….?

        Drumroll, drumroll, drumroll….

        Ta daaaaa……!!!!!

        …that most Israelis are evil. He is not even saying that most Israelis are evil TOO! He is just saying that most Israelis are evil, period!

        Happy now, Benny-leh?

        Reply to Comment
        • Proud Miza Jew

          By reading all your replies over the months I can attest to you being very very evil. When 57% of the country supports imprisoning and prosecuting human rights NGO’s that are even against torture …at least half the boarder-less ‘country’ is quite evil.

          You no doubt will find some way of justifying your evil because thats what evil does.

          Reply to Comment
        • Proud Miza Jew

          By reading all your replies over the months I can attest to you being very very evil. And when a “democratic” country supports imprisoning and prosecuting human rights NGO’s that are even against torture of ALL peoples in the land …at least half of this boarder-less ‘country’ is quite evil.

          You no doubt you will find some way of justifying your evil because thats what evil does. I have no time for it so don’t even bother. Israel is evil in every way possible and when people start dancing and stabbing the picture of babies burned alive and celebrating such an atrocity with ZERO incarcerations or crack downs much less banning such movements and groups; but excuses, even having some in the Knesset and subsidizing their illegal activities –its inherently evil.

          Reply to Comment
          • Gustav

            Yes Proud Miza, we read you loud and clear. First demonize, vilify and dehumanize your enemies the rest follows automatically. We have seen the outcome of that in places like Rwanda, Cambodia, Yugoslavia and I won’t even mention “the enlightened Europeans” in the 1930s.

            That is what you and Benny are engaging in my proud Miza. But we won’t let you do it to us again ever. Not without paying a very heavy price at least…

            Reply to Comment
          • carmen

            Interesting you choose to compare “Israel” with Rwanda, Cambodia and Yugoslavia…..

            You think that’s wise? I give you props for honesty though, “Israel” can only rightly be compared to other third world countries. Now I suppose you’ll go into your nonsense about “100 year war”, “we have enemies everywhere”, “we’ll do whatever we have to do (except act like human beings) to survive”, “I’m against incitement, EXCEPT…”, etc., etc. You know, if you can’t deal with the obvious revulsion felt towards these freaks in the wedding (yikes!)video, the IOF and the “state of Israel” in general, here’s what you do. Talk to these friends of yours in Yitzkar, occupied Al-Khalil and Al Quds and let them know that they’ve finally crossed a line that even YOU can no longer defend; quit voting for Netanyahu and his gang of racist, arabaphobic miscreants.

            Stop, stop, stop expecting the rest of the world to come around to your way of thinking. It’s not working anymore.

            Reply to Comment
          • Gustav

            The below are the only two bits worth answering in Carmen’s(?) little tirade…

            CARMEN(?)“we’ll do whatever we have to do (except act like human beings) to survive”

            Bravo Carmen you got my sentiments in one go. We will do anything to survive in this very rough neighborhood. No more no less. You don’t think that makes us human? Then you either don’t know humans or you are a hypocrite or both. Which is it Carmen dear?

            CARMEN(?):”Stop, stop, stop expecting the rest of the world to come around to your way of thinking. It’s not working anymore.”

            Any more? Those who are with us are still with us and they always will be. Most are neither with us or against us, they have lives to live. And those who are against us are even more against us coz they just hate us. Haters will always be haters they wean it from their mother’s milk. Jew hatred is a mental illness.

            Reply to Comment
          • Carmen

            It’s not Jew hatred, but that’s going to be your opinion until you’re dust. There’s no point talking to you. That’s always the end of the argument with zionists. When all else fails, the bottom line is always “Jew hatred”. That’s quite a gig you all have, just scream antisemite, as if that will excuse anything that you do. How shameful. You dishonor the memory of actual victims of antisemitism by hijacking that phrase every time you’re called out on your vile beliefs and behaviors. Your eternal victim claim is disgusting. I firmly believe that you and people like you are disliked, not for who you claim to be, but for what comes out of your mouths, your behavior toward any “other” and your insistence that your recent presence in this land after exile 2000 years ago is somehow right, regardless of who was living on the land when you showed up and threatened them with immediate death or the long, slow, lingering death of occupation. It’s right because it says so in this book that none of you believe in. Right? Of course. That book has been twisted and turned out by racist colonizers long before you came along. It doesn’t make it right because someone else did it. How infantile. Do you think everyone is as stupid as you are, that everyone will just blindly accept you and your fellow 972 thespians’ versions of history without fact-checking? That no one has access to the truth and won’t fight you with it? You and your government have never been interested in peaceful coexistence at all, only the continued stealth of land, water and resources and if you have to keep killing to get it, you’ve proven you have the will to do that, no problem. It’s just “mowing the lawn”. You could easily use that same will to achieve peace in the region, but your hatred of “the other” won’t allow that. Oh, and no one wants to be a freier, right? You will reap what you’ve sown, and it’s only going to get uglier. You can’t say you haven’t been warned, but you’ve demonstrated over and over again you’d rather just kill the messenger.

            Reply to Comment
          • Gustav

            Oh just shut the fuck up Benny. It is sooooooooo obvious that this CARMEN is just another manifestation of BEN with his endless accusations against Israel.

            Now listen to this, CARMEN/BEN…

            YES, hatred of Israel is the new antisemitism!

            After what you, antisemites did to Jews in the holocaust, most decent humans were so repulsed by what Jew hatred led to that it is no longer acceptable in polite society to be antisemitic.

            So what did antisemites like you do to get a fix? You started demonizing and vilifying the state of the Jewish people instead.

            Modern day antisemitism, the hatred of Israel has exactly the same characteristics as the old hatred of Jews. It used to be blood libel against Jews and discrimination.

            Nowdays it is blood libels against the state of the Jewish people and holding our state to different standards than other states.

            Reply to Comment
          • Ben

            Wow Carmen really made you lose it, huh? She really got to you, man. Truth hurts. This is all you guys got? Say that everyone here is me? That’s really pathetic. I was sitting here admiring Carmen’s intelligence and articulateness–she just nails you dead center–better than I could–zowee–and saying to myself what a breath of fresh air she is and that I hope she sticks around. Then you come along and indirectly flatter me by suspecting she is me.

            Reply to Comment
          • Gustav

            You are Carmen Benny. And you know it!

            Even the layout of her paragraphs are identical to yours, let alone the words, the phrases and the sentiments.

            Do you think the whole world is as stupid as you are and we can’t see the obvious? You fool!!!

            And I am not the only one who has been saying this, Benny-leh.

            Wanna prove me wrong? Let me see, BEN and CARMEN post simultaneously on the same thread say for a few weeks, each responding to posts addressed to them and in different style.

            Instead what do we see? I post something to Benny, Benny gets stumped and summons one of his sock puppets like Carmen who responds instead of Benny. Then she disappears and Benny turns up.

            If there would be two of you, I would be able to debate the two of you simultaneously for long periods but that would be a bit too hard for you eh Benny-leh? First, you’d have to post twice the number of posts. Second; side by side your posts would inevitably look very similar coz you could only pretend to keep up the pretense of being different individuals for so long. The process for you would be exhausting for ya, wouldn’t it Benny-leh?

            Reply to Comment
          • Carmen

            I’ve read 972 long enough to see the comments section turned into nothing more than a pissing contest between yourself and Gustav and although my beliefs are very similar to yours, I’m bothered by this site held hostage by you and the many manifestations of “Gustav”. I see that posting any message that is displeasing to the 972 thespians goes from the sublime to the ridiculous quicker than you can type “Ben/(insert any name here)”. Gustav/972 thespians have been given carte blanche, much like the colonizing settlers spreading like a metastasizing tumor, and put on quite a show demonstrating their temper and the constant use of slander (“antisemite”). That’s always the bottom line. ALWAYS.

            It’s a shame there’s no room to express comments. There isn’t, without being debased by accusations too disgusting to repeat. I can’t complain too much though; I don’t have to pass through a checkpoint to get to and from work; my crops are being poisoned by pesticides; my children are threatened by the likes of Anat Cohen and her zombie followers or Ben-zion Gopstein and his; my home isn’t being demolished because of the alleged actions of someone in my household; my olive trees aren’t being uprooted or burned by settler/colonists with the IOF standing by watching; my children aren’t going to be killed for picking up a rock or standing next to someone picking up a rock or being mistakenly identified as one who picked up a rock, then summarily executed and my husband doesn’t have to get up at 1 o’clock in the morning to get to the checkpoint and freeze in the winter or faint in the summer because the security of the unashamedly largest welfare recipients in the world trumps the security of all.

            Reply to Comment
          • Carmen

            This post was to Ben (obviously)

            Reply to Comment
          • Gustav

            “This post was to Ben (obviously)”

            Benny talking to himself again. What a lunatic.

            Reply to Comment
          • Carmen

            I don’t know why my previous post to you didn’t get posted, but will try again. I don’t want to get drawn into the pissing contest between you and Gustav, et al. I found your post to be self-serving and nothing else. Do you wish to be the only voice of sanity here? That’s the impression I’m getting. Rest assured, I’m not trying to horn in on the Ben/Gustav action, which is more disturbing than anything else and always ends up with the thread going straight down the sewer. There’s no dialogue here because you and Gustav et al dominate most threads with your bullshit. No matter what the subject is, it always comes down to you and Gustav et al. I will say again, which was in my post that didn’t get posted, Gustav et al have carte blanche. I hope it isn’t because of something unsavory but I am quite amazed at the depths to which Gustav et al will sink to. It’s funny to be accused of doing exactly what Gustav et al constantly do. I believe that’s called projection: “Psychological projection, also known as blame shifting, is a theory in psychology in which humans defend themselves against their own unpleasant impulses by denying their existence while attributing them to others. For example, a person who is rude may constantly accuse other people of being rude”. Psychological projection – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psychological_proje

            Yes, that’s definitely it.

            Reply to Comment
          • Gustav

            Classic Benny-isms. The above post is full of it. Both of Benny-ish utterances and the other stuff…

            Reply to Comment
          • Carmen

            I won’t respond to you after this, so try your best to understand this. I don’t like you and the like 972 thespians because of what you say here. That gives you no reason to call me an antisemite, it’s bullying, nothing more.

            “Oh just shut the fuck up Benny. It is sooooooooo obvious that this CARMEN is just another manifestation of BEN with his endless accusations against Israel.”
            Well. You shut the fuck up “Gustav”. Here’s the first problem and that is obviously a deficit in your ability to comprehend what you’re reading. My name here, like it or not, is Carmen and I’m a woman. Second, where did I make “endless accusations against Israel”? I’ve been on topic on this thread concerning the murderous thugs in the video. I’ve expressed my disgust with them and with you. How could anyone in their right mind possibly conflate my disgust with individuals into antisemitism or “accusations against Israel”?

            “Now listen to this, CARMEN/BEN…” –
            No, it’s only me, Carmen.

            YES, hatred of Israel is the new antisemitism!”
            Seriously? That’s quite a stretch, mister. Muslims and Christians live in Israel and represent over 20% of the population; how could you possibly forget about them? BTW, there is no law against hating a country or a region. Maybe there’s a pseudo-jurist amongst the 972 thespians who will argue this, but it would be stupid to try.

            Everything is about the dangerous road you and your fellow zionists are taking the rest of the population down. There’s nowhere to hide from the truth on videos like these, or the news, or the fact that Netanyahu is a monster who has a cabinet full of monsters and the knesset is full of right wing idiots who, like Nero, will watch everything burn while fiddling and singing hatikva because of their intransigence, xenophobia and fear and loathing of “the other”. And you know it. And apparently you’re down with that. Not everyone may be on board with the Samson option. Every time you, Netanyahu, Hotovely, Lapid, Bennet, et al, throw out the “antisemite/antisemitism” option, they are making it crystal clear to the rest of the world they’re not to be taken seriously as partners for peace or just dialogue, about anything. You/they have already slammed the door on any kind of reasoning together, and that’s the way you like it, it’s de rigueur for diplomacy, zionist style. Which means, there is no diplomacy, there is no dialogue, there is no partner for peace, this will only end very badly. For all. And this seems to make some of you very proud.

            Like I wrote previously,”It’s not Jew hatred, but that’s going to be your opinion until you’re dust. There’s no point talking to you”.

            Reply to Comment
          • Gustav

            CARMEN/BENNY:”I won’t respond to you after this”

            Is that a threat or a promise? And under whose name did you make that promise? As Ben or as Carmen?

            The challange stands. I wanna see Benny and Carmen posting on the same thread and see the posts side by side. It won’t happen. And if it does, it will be even more obvious that …

            BEN = CARMEN!

            Now, just for the record, BEN/CARMEN, I don’t like you either you disgusting troll.

            Reply to Comment
          • Gustav

            But rest assured, I WILL be responding to CARMEN/BENNY coz I’ll be damned if I let your propaganda go unchallenged.

            Reply to Comment
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