Even as the flames spread from Jerusalem into the West Bank and back over the Green Line, Israeli leaders are showing no restraint in their statements and actions. It feels like they just don’t care anymore.
These are tough, disgusting times in Israel/Palestine. The flames in Jerusalem, which were ignited well before the recent war in Gaza, seem to be climbing higher every day, spreading to the West Bank and inside the Green Line as well.
The recent events also seem to be bringing out some of Israeli leaders’ true color. Yitzhak Aharonovitch, the Israeli public security minister (something equivalent to a police minister), had some very harsh words after the last attack by a Palestinian who ran over a group of Border Police and pedestrians in Jerusalem, killing two and wounding others. After a police officer killed the attacker on the scene, Aharonovich said that, “the sentence for any any terrorist who harms civilians is to be killed.” He added that all such events should end that way. To hell with the rule of law, right guys?
But who would have thought that the police would heed their boss’ call so soon? On Saturday evening cops shot 22-year-old Khir Hamdan from Kafr Kanna (well inside Green Line) in the back after he attacked a police van with a knife. No taser, no shooting towards the legs. Just a bullet in the chest as he was running away. To make things worse, instead of calling an ambulance they dragged him into the van like he was a sack of potatoes, while still alive. I’m pretty sure I saw that scene on a Sopranos episode; I just can’t remember which season.
Obviously, the killing heated things up. As would be expected of a wise leader, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu thought this might be a good time to try and calm things down — to be the responsible adult. Oh sorry, scrap that! Instead, just like his public security minister, Netanyahu poured some more gas on this bonfire, showed his true colors as well and just hours later announced he “will instruct the interior minister to evaluate revoking the citizenship of those who call for the destruction of the State of Israel.” Or, in other words, “I don’t have anything to say about shooting Hamdan in the back and you Arabs better calm down before I frickin’ lose it.”
Then comes a Facebook post from Naftali Bennet, leader of The Jewish Home and the Economy Minister:
Notice how Bennet calls Hamdan a “crazed Arab terrorist.” Not a suspect in a violent crime who should be arrested and tried in court like any other criminal suspect. No, Bennet is a minister in the “only democracy in the Middle East” that claims every other day that Arabs in Israel are equal citizens. That is, except for when they commit crimes. Then, they’re crazed terrorists. Who should be shot. In the back. While running away. From a group of armed cops in a van. With a only a knife. (This should come as no surprise, of course. Bennett has never hid his feelings on the topic.)
But for me, the best part of this feces storm came on Sunday when the government voted to support a bill extending Israeli law to West Bank settlements without formally annexing the area. For those of you who still don’t see Israel’s policies in the West Bank as apartheid, it might become a little easier for you if this bill becomes a law. It’s a nice, big step in that direction.
Looking at all these statements and actions, it feels like they just don’t care anymore. They’re really going ahead with it; they actually want this to happen. Their true colors are coming out. They’re no longer hiding.
And if I may be honest for just a moment (did you expect anything else?), I’m actually quite satisfied with this rather rapid deterioration toward a full-fledged apartheid state. There’s simply something too painful in watching it unfold so slowly, like pulling off a Band-Aid way too carefully instead of just getting it over with in one quick pull.
Seriously, why condemn every settlement expansion, every undemocratic law, every racist comment from a politician? The only thing these condemnations do is slow things down and delay the inevitable. It only keeps things in some sort of gray area that allows the rest of the world to keep debating if Israel is an apartheid state or isn’t. Why not let things worsen quicker so the world understands sooner and will be left with no choice but to finally act?