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News of Palestinian children killed in crash met with racism

By Fady Khoury

Ten Palestinians were killed today (Thursday) – nine of which were children – and dozens more injured when a bus crashed into a truck on the road between Qalandiya and the Adam settlement, near the northern border between Jerusalem and the West Bank.

The bus – which was carrying kids from the “Nour Al-Huda” kindergarten in the Shuafat refugee camp (East Jerusalem) on their way for a day of fun in Ramallah – collided with a truck, rolled over and burst into flames. The reasons for the collision have not been determined yet.

While no one can deny that this is truly a tragedy, some found their inner-racist and it guided them through this impossible task.

The tragic story was covered by a lot of Israeli news websites, which all have comment pages (called talkbacks in Hebrew) open for readers to comment on articles. Most of these websites also have a Facebook page where they share their news and readers – who are identified by their profiles – are able to openly comment on them.

One of these websites is “Walla News” which posted a report about the accident on its Facebook page. Most of the readers were shocked and horrified by the fact that children were killed, but a bunch of them were not as horrified when they found out who the victims were. Take a look:

It is important to point out that there were a lot of readers who condemned these and other racist comments.

I decided to bring these comments to the fore for one reason. Israelis tend to accuse Palestinians of being immoral because once and again the Israeli media shows Palestinians gloating and celebrating over the death of innocent Israelis. The reaction of these ordinary Israelis to the death of Palestinian children shows that the “moral” party in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is not so moral after all.

This is not an attempt to bash any individual. My only intention is to show an example of the consequences of continuous occupation, which is affecting Israeli society as well as Palestinian society.

Moreover, there cannot be any doubt that these individuals feel comfortable openly expressing their hateful and racist opinions in a public domain mainly because discriminatory political discourse has legitimized this type of expression.

In my view, these comments should cause concern to Israelis more than Palestinians. Once hateful speech becomes legitimate, even if not explicitly, it tend to seep inwards, and in a divided and fragmented society – which is clearly the case in Israel – the risk is even greater.

Fady Khoury is a legal intern at Adalah: The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel. The views expressed in this article are those of the author and not Adalah. 

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    COMMENTS

    1. Elan Miller

      Disgusting, but as MK Ahmed Tibi pointed out today, these voices do not represent the Israeli people. We should be mindful of the fact that the Israel emergency services and on-scene responders did indeed treat the children in the same way as they would treat Israeli children.

      Reply to Comment
    2. aristeides

      If those aren’t Israeli people posting – in Hebrew – who the hell are they? Certainly they don’t represent ALL the Israeli people, but they don’t represent a significant strain, that is unashamed of what they say because they know they are among the like-minded.

      Reply to Comment
    3. AYLA

      More than anything, my heart breaks for the families of these children, and for their communities. This is so tragic.
      *
      I’ve responded to this post a few times on facebook already. Firstly, I am, of course, sickened by this response. It’s so horrific I find it hard to believe, but I’ll believe it…
      *
      That said, I have a deeply mixed response to our reposting it, and my reasons go along with what I find most challenging in general about i/p conflict coverage. On one hand, Israelis should see this response; it will likely shock most of them as it has shocked me, and this response should be brought to light. On the other hand, people who don’t know Israelis–most especially Palestinians living under Israeli occupation who only know armed Israelis in IDF uniform–will see this, associate it with the general population, and this will contribute to our ability to dehumanize each other (as these responses are inhuman).
      *
      Don’t get me wrong: I’m not concerned about Israelis’ image or pr. It’s just that people do this on all sides of the conflict: when a bus of Israeli civilians was attacked on its way to Eilat last August and Israelis died, news of Egyptians and Palestinians celebrating those deaths were circulating from Israel supporters, in and out of Israel. Same after 9/11. etc. (happens all the time). these posts go along with captions that read: see, “they” hate “us”; they want us dead, we can’t negotiate with these people, etc.
      *
      of course, unlike in those situations, this bus accident was just that: an accident. there was no military or militarized component. this makes the response even more shocking.
      *
      Still–I’d like to raise the question: how can we best aim to serve the end of the occupation and reparation, while confronting the truth, without ourselves making the conflict worse by highlighting what I have to believe is a minority of extreme base hate?
      *
      I don’t know the answers, but I will propose that we commit, at least, to shining a light on the equally true goodwill between us. Many people believe that reporting on the positive interactions and deeds makes it seem like things are okay when they aren’t. I believe that we have to have reasons, based on the truth, to hope and believe in our all ultimately wanting the same thing, to be able to envision a future together. Otherwise, how can we walk toward that future, together?

      Reply to Comment
    4. AYLA

      p.s. correction: not believing in our *all* wanting the same thing. We don’t all… but the majority. the possibility, even. It’s less a question of whether or not to repost things that are true, and more a question of how: why? to what aim?

      Reply to Comment
    5. Henry Quinn

      I agree with Elan. I think the lesson here, and I believe the intent of the article, is that no ethnicity, religion, or nation has a monopoly on behaving like an asshole.

      More to the point, it does illustrate the fact that good guys vs. bad guys really isn’t a practical or justifiable lens through which either side needs to be looking for solutions in this conflict. There are human rights issues, security issues, legal and pragmatic issues. The need for justice and stability isn’t derived from anyone deserving anything, or who’s earned what. It’s derived from the fact that anything other than a just, stable outcome simply won’t last.

      Reply to Comment
    6. Jazzy

      An article about trolls commenting on another article – wow…I suppose yes, yes, this does prove that Israel and Hamas are morally, exactly the same. We’ve waited so long for proof, and now, thanks to these comments, we finally have it. Bravo

      Reply to Comment
    7. Passerby

      Jazzy hits the nail right on the head.
      ———-
      But since we’re politicizing a tragedy here and then talking about impoverished responses to this horrible accident, I’m wondering whether our erstwhile Adalah intern, Mr. Khoury, can glean any lessons from the abject silence of virtually all of the Israeli-Arab MKs about the non-accidental systematic murder and abuse of thousands of Syrians and numerous Syrian towns.
      ———
      Also, might Mr. Khoury be able to relate this to the massive outcry at the killing of 13 Arab-Israeli demonstrators when Barak was PM?
      ——-
      This link would be a good beginning for any discussion:
      http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/opinion/syria-crisis-reveals-hypocrisy-of-israel-s-arab-mks-1.411273

      Reply to Comment
    8. Jazzy

      Fady: I think maybe you are overly sensitive and a bit too paranoid about this sort of thing, which partly explains why you accused me of racism before just because I disagreed with you and you’re Arab. The solution to oversensitive Israeli preoccupation with every anti-Zionist or irredentist thing Palestinians say isn’t to do the same thing back. Its to explain why that stuff doesn’t matter in the first place. Time is limited – can’t waste it on Jpost comments or whatever that site is.

      Reply to Comment
    9. Philos

      You shoul take a look at the PM’s FB page. It’s even worse. Furthermore, Ayla your argument only provides cover for the racists. The fact is these are not anonymous talkbacks. These are FB profiles where you can see their face and names
      .
      Anyone remember the girl soldier gloating over Palestinian captives FB controversy? It’s all the same root.

      Reply to Comment
    10. aristeides

      Hardly an isolated phenomenon. Look at the talkbacks about Khader Adnan near death. “Good riddance, the sooner the better.”

      Reply to Comment
    11. Fady K.

      @Jazzy:
      You are underestimating the severity of these comments. These comments are just an example. There were about 700 comments on that link, in which a lot were similar to those I’ve written about. You might also want to see the comments on PM’s Facebook page.
      Jazzy, if you are a resident in Israel you must have witnessed the political discourse here. It cultivates these types of approached towards anyone who’s different, who’s not Jewish.
      An ordinary Israeli sees these comments and he says: huh, a bunch of trolls but they are still the minority. He sees a Palestinian expressing the same opinions when it comes to Israelis; he immediately assumes that all Palestinians are evil. That’s what I’m trying to say here. First, those who commented are not a small group of people, and there are more who did not comment. Second, most Palestinians do not get pleasure out of seeing Israelis get killed. The hypocrisy is in the portrayal of Palestinian as immoral people while Israelis are the morally superior victims in the conflict.
      ***
      Beside the point, I didn’t get the chance to respond the other time, and I do apologize if I offended you by suggesting that you’re racist. I clearly do not know well enough to have made this judgment.

      Reply to Comment
    12. Fady K.

      @Passerby:
      What are you asking of me exactly? I am not the spokesman of any Arab political party and I do not intend to defend their silence on the Syrian tragedy. Adalah, from the point of view of human rights, has condemned the Syrian regimes violent acts against the Syrians.
      You ask that I relate this to the massive outcry of October 2000. Who am I? I do not speak on behalf of anyone. October 2000 relates to the Palestinian citizens directly. Isn’t it at least understandable that the same group affected by these acts be vocal about them?
      There’s no discussion for me in this department. It is not the topic of my post and I will not hit every ball thrown my way just for the sake of it. You are more than welcome to seek answers directly from the MKs, I’m sure they have websites.

      Reply to Comment
    13. Mikhael

      @Aristeides, you write:

      “If those aren’t Israeli people posting – in Hebrew – who the hell are they?”
      Nobody is denying that Israelis wrote those comments, but they don’t represent the majority of Israeli opinion. There were more Israeli Jews who wrote comments expressing sympathy and condolences to the families of the bus crash victims and condemned the nasty comments.

      “Certainly they don’t represent ALL the Israeli people, but they don’t represent a significant strain, that is unashamed of what they say because they know they are among the like-minded.”

      Well, when one surveys comments written by Arabs, one can say that Arabs who write hateful comments also represent “a significant strain”.

      Even on the walla site that attracted these nasty comments from Israeli Jews, I’ve found several reaction from Israeli Arabs, writing in Hebrew and Arabic, expressing sentiments like like “Hitler made no mistake”, and “You’ll all be burned like Hitler did to you”.

      The rancor exists on both sides and it’s disingenuous to present this as solely emanating from Israelis. Remember, it’s not unheard of for Palestinian Arabs to distribute baklava when they hear of terror attacks and tragedies that occur to Jews. Since I’m not a bigot, I don’t say all Arabs feel this way.

      Reply to Comment
    14. A

      By amplifying these disgusting talkbacks you are doing the same as those in Israel who like to cut paragraph in Palestinian schoolbooks and all kinds of sentences said by Imams in mosques and use it to prove Palestinians are evils and there is no one to talk to.
      Fady, I read your post till the end and I know you DIDNT intend that, but you know media dynamics better then I do: what will stay with us is the print-screen as another nail in the coffin of the peace…

      Reply to Comment
    15. Mikhael

      @Fady

      You perceptively write:

      “An ordinary Israeli sees these comments and he says: huh, a bunch of trolls but they are still the minority. He sees a Palestinian expressing the same opinions when it comes to Israelis; he immediately assumes that all Palestinians are evil.”

      It certainly is true, from my experience, that many Israelis and American Jews react this way.

      However, it can also be inverted: a typical 972/Mondoweiss/Electronic Intifada reader will see coverage of this and assume that it’s typically Israeli behavior and that all Israelis are inherently evil.

      If you read Ali Abunimah’s coverage of this on Electronic Intifada, to his credit, he does acknowledge that there were many Israelis who expressed sympathy and condemned the hateful outpourings. But he makes no mention of the equally vitriolic and vituperative comments coming from Arabs/Palestinians– someone reading his coverage would assume that the typical Israeli is an evil bigot, with a few “good” ones, but no Arabs would ever express similar Schadenfreude.

      http://electronicintifada.net/blogs/ali-abunimah/some-israelis-react-joy-deaths-palestinian-kids-bus-crash-others-revolted-racism

      Reply to Comment
    16. Fady K.

      @Mikhael:
      I recognize that ALSO Palestinians have gloated over Israelis death. I’m not justifying that, nor am I denying that. What I’m saying is that the occupation corrupted both saides of the conflict. Till now it has been believed that only Palestinians can behave immorally. Well, I argue in this post otherwise.

      Reply to Comment
    17. Fady K.

      @Mikhael:
      I understand your point. People will always assume the worst based on their predispositions. The only way to change that is to share as much information as we possibly can.

      Reply to Comment
    18. Ohad

      this is sick pure and simple no need to defend these people.

      Reply to Comment
    19. aristeides

      Mikhael – the people I’m concerned with are the Israel-Firsters who will say that ONLY Palestinians will express such sentiments, that Jews would NEVER say such things. There are plenty of people cutting and pasting those pages from Palestinian sources, but the people these reach never see the other side.

      .
      Of course, if Ayla has her way, they never will. It might upset them, and we can’t have that.

      Reply to Comment
    20. Passerby

      First, to remind everyone, “Israel Firster” is an antisemitic term. It is one that Aristeides uses regularly and with impunity on 972.
      =======

      Fady, you took a tragic event and turned it into a political farce.
      ———
      What else were you trying to achieve here? Was this just “reporting” a story? You turned a tragic accident into “racism by Israelis.” You were trying to prove, as you state, “Till now it has been believed that only Palestinians can behave immorally.”
      ———
      I looked at the comments on Ynet and JPost and found that almost all of them expressed sympathy for the Palestinian victims. Yet, for political reasons (what other reason could you have?) you chose to focus on those who spoke in vile terms about it and then even compared their speech to Palestinians gloating over “innocent Israeli deaths” which I suspect includes parades passing out candies after “successful” suicide bombings, the mother of the Fogel family commemorating her son’s heroics on Palestinian TV and a temporary Palestinian gallery built a few years ago to capture the bombing of the Sbarro pizzeria in Jerusalem, replete with mock flying body parts.
      ———
      You see? It’s easy to politicize and it’s even easier to make you lose this debate. But the issue is that your comparison of the two societies is not only weak, but vile. You do a disservice to those poor kids who died because let’s face it, they became a commodity to you in your rhetorical attacks on Israel.
      ——-
      So all I did was ask you whether taking this kind of tragic accident and turning it into a political statement against Israelis is not something you could do with the current, ongoing, non-accidental tragedies going on in Syria? After all, you wrote in your article that you believe “The reaction of these ordinary Israelis to the death of Palestinian children shows that the “moral” party in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is not so moral after all.”
      ——–
      Listening to your approach to this, it seems to me that we have a lot to learn about ordinary Israeli-Arabs and their leadership from their open support of Assad in the past, and current silence about his regime’s serious crimes (despite Adalah’s rare public condemnation of what’s happening there, because as you noted about this tragedy, “there were a lot of readers who condemned these and other racist comments,” but that didn’t stop you from posting about Israeli society’s racism because of this accident).
      ———-
      It seems to me that this silence is far more terrible than a bunch of Israeli trolls trying to sound cool on websites and I simply thought that if you could focus on one of these situations, you might do well to focus on the other as well.
      ——-
      Don’t worry, I wasn’t really expecting you to do it.

      Reply to Comment
    21. Passerby

      *mother of the Fogel family MURDERERS

      (of course, the mother of the Fogel family is dead)

      Reply to Comment
    22. Piotr Berman

      There is a well-known quote of a discussion of an engine accident on a steamboat in “Huckelberry Finn”. The first and third is the voice of Aunt Sally, “a nice person”.

      “Good gracious! anybody hurt?”

      “No’m. Killed a nigger.”

      “Well, it’s lucky; because sometimes people do get hurt.

      Reply to Comment
    23. aristeides

      Passerby in his fundamental dishonesty epitomizes the response of the Zionist apologist to information like this. He ignores the difference between a moderated message board – and even Ynet and JP don’t let through all of the worst racist remarks – and the Facebook page cited, in which people are free to say what they wish, uncensored.

      .
      But what the apologist will never do is simply acknowledge, “Those remarks certainly are vile.” No, they have to be minimized, or excused, or attention diverted from them. There’s always an excuse to make. The Palestinians say worse. Why aren’t you condemning the deaths somewhere else, instead? It isn’t all Israelis saying such things.

      .
      The only one I haven’t yet seen is the false-flag-post accusation, that the people cheering the deaths of Palestinian children are actually Arabs trying to make Israelis look bad. It’ll show up soon, though, I’m sure.

      Reply to Comment
    24. Passerby

      Aristeides, I did comment on the comments. I commented on yours being antisemitic. I commented on the comments Fady is alluding to as impoverished in my first comment and vile in my second comment.
      It would be nice if somebody at 972 commented in the same way about your phraseology.

      Reply to Comment
    25. AYLA

      aristeides–you demonstrate such a lack of understanding of how things work here sometimes that I have to wonder if you’ve ever even visited. First of all, I said it was good for Israelis to see this. I guess I thought it went without saying, given my argument, that it’s good for all Jews, and Israel supporters, to see this. Secondly, this is a very different situation than others such as the one you compared it to: the Israeli response to Khader Adnan. For the record, I am sick over the lack of response to Khader Adnan, and certainly to any response such as the one you referred to. It’s simply not parallel. There are Israelis who believe, based on Adnan’s political affiliations, that he’s a terrorist. I am very much not one of those people, and that is a very ignorant response; I’m just saying–this case that Fady K writes about is a SCHOOLBUS ACCIDENT. Any response other than compassion is pure, sick racism. If Palestinians believe that most Israelis want their children dead just for being Palestinian, Good God, we are all animals. And as I said in my post before, everyone does this on all sides. After the Fogel Family murder, there was a tiny minority of Palestinians celebrating the hacking of an infant, and guess what pro-Israel people were circulating… I’m asking an important question, here; one (though not solely) on which the conflict could, actually, hinge. I’d agree with A on this, but I’d take it further and raise questions to people I respect, such as Fady, and other 972 reporters: How to shed light in a way that doesn’t perpetuate dehumanizing and base hatred? It’s not a question of reporting or not reporting; it’s a question of nuance.

      Reply to Comment
    26. Sinjim

      @Ayla: What about Fady’s article wasn’t nuanced?

      Reply to Comment
    27. aristeides

      Ayla – I would wish very much to generate hatred for the persons who could make such racist remarks. I would like it to be widely promulgated.

      .
      In the US, a Facebook page where comments like this were made about any other group – about Jews, certainly, about American blacks – would generate a huge uproar, denunciations, calls to take down the page, calls to identify and shame the guilty.

      .
      When the victims are Palestinians – silence. That is what I would change.

      Reply to Comment
    28. Passerby

      It is rich irony to see a person using antisemitic terms denounce racist remarks and asking to identify and shame the guilty.

      Reply to Comment
    29. aristeides

      Keep trying, Passerby. You’ll be deleted again.

      Reply to Comment
    30. Passerby

      Um, you wrote an antisemitic comment and it passed muster with Mr. Derfner, then when I called you on it, in response you called me names and your comment was deleted. My response to your deleted comment was what had been deleted because Derfner mistakenly believes you’re not an antisemite.

      Reply to Comment
    31. “I would wish very much to generate hatred for the persons who could make such racist remarks. I would like it to be widely promulgated.”
      .
      The last thing we need in this world is more hatred towards people. Compassion is not conditional; if it is, it stops being compassion. I was very happy to hear from the youth group in Bethlehem that some of them have been copying down names from Facebook so that they can pray for these people by name. These are Palestinian youngsters who have just read comments from people wishing them dead. If they’re capable of responding as they have, I think everyone should be capable of making some effort to root out temptation to hate – not because what was written isn’t bad, but precisely because it’s so awful.

      Reply to Comment
    32. aristeides

      Vicky – I have no faith in the efficacy of prayer, and I very much doubt that the haters among the Israelis would do anything but laugh at their good wishes.

      .
      What I hope these comments do – and they can only do it if they are promulgated – is to open some eyes. As Dahlia said in her latest thread: “they’re not even allowing themselves to admit that the present policy is a problem – no square 1.”

      .
      It’s precisely comments like these that the Israel-Firsters are so determined to quash, so as not to upset the deluded complacency of the large number of diaspora Jews and Christians who think they’re supporting a population of holy peace-lovers, who deny with great rage and violence that there is anything like racism in Israel.

      Reply to Comment
    33. Jazzy

      Fady: I agree with your assessment of the facts. Most Palestinians aren’t sadists, and some Israelis are. But…so what? So let’s say we all agree that both peoples have sizable racist minorities, but not majorities: what does it accomplish to get everyone to agree on this? My point is that this whole area of dispute is irrelevant to making any progress on anything of substance – its just a bunch of finger-pointing nonsense. Its more productive to explain WHY neither group of morons should influence our opinions about what to do, than just to explain that ‘they’ are also morons. Rise above it.

      Reply to Comment
    34. AYLA

      @Sinjim–I always appreciate talking to you. Thanks for the question. You are right: Fady K did a great job acknowledging that most people were upset before showing these horrifying responses. I’m really not meaning to single Fady out, here. I saw this reposted a few time on fb, by peace activists I respect tremendously, before seeing it on 972. I’m just trying to raise this point: there are some really sick responses on all sides of this conflict, and those sick responses come from people who, apparently, don’t see the other “side” humanly. It’s impossible to respond to a schoolbus accident (I cry just typing that) by saying good riddance to terrorists (children!) unless you completely dehumanize palestinians. Although it’s not entirely parallel, it’s also impossible to celebrate the Fogel Family murder unless you see all Israelis (or settlers) as inhuman. The issue I am raising is that we, the well-meaning activists, can inadvertently be the ones who contribute to this dehumanizing. If I were Palestinian, and I didn’t know Israelis, and I read these responses to the accidental death of my children, I might find it pretty easy to dehumanize Israelis: people who have this kind of response to such a tragedy. The question I’m trying to raise is about if and how to cover the extreme hatred/racism. I might argue: Don’t. And, if we do, then, why? How?To me, a good reason to cover this is to say to Israel supporters: Wake up: we have the same kind of fringe, extreme racism that you see circulating about Palestinians in your circles. We are mirror images of each other. We create each other. We do not have the moral high ground (because believe it or not, they think they do). So when I say it’s a matter of nuance, it’s less to say that Fady isn’t being nuanced, and more to say: the question is how and why to post. Who is the target audience, here? What do you want to gain from posting this kind of story? This kind of story can, as ‘A’ said, be a nail in the peace coffin. But that isn’t Fady’s goal. It isn’t the goal of any writer at 972. Listen: things are at a tipping point like never before. How the scales tip depends on us. You, Sinjim. Fady. Me. I’m raising a true (not rhetorical) question. Hate attracts hate. Love attracts love. Pretend there is no hate? Of course not. But/and… feed the fire? I don’t pretend to have the answers. But the question is of crucial importance.

      Reply to Comment
    35. Aaron

      I disagree with most of this article, including some of the assertions about which “there cannot be any doubt.”
      §
      First of all, when people claim that one side is more moral than the other, they’re not talking about some individual creeps who post stuff on the Internet. Everyone agrees there are plenty of slimy individuals on all sides. Claims of morality are complicated, and I don’t want to get into them here, but this incident does nothing to refute them.
      §
      If this were an example of “the consequences of continuous occupation,” then you wouldn’t see the same kind of thing elsewhere in conflicts that did not involve occupation. But you most certainly do. So it’s not primarily about the “continuous occupation.”
      §
      Similarly with it’s occurring “mainly [!] because discriminatory political discourse has legitimized this type of expression.” Check out some of the racist comments on American web sites, against African-Americans for instance. They do not reflect the dominant political discourse in America, which for instance has recently celebrated Martin Luther King’s birthday in a manner formerly associated with Christian saints. These comments reflect one noxious strain of popular discourse, not sanctioned by the elite.
      §
      Finally, regarding the supposed threat that this will become “legitimate, even if not explicitly”: My impression is that Israeli culture, at least the hegemonic culture, is moving in exactly the opposite direction. The media and cultural elites are adopting American concepts of ethnic diversity, racism, etc. There’s no evidence of any threat from comments like these, vile as they are.

      Reply to Comment
    36. ikiro

      The math does not lie! Statistics tells us that in the Palestinian territories, 95% of Muslim population does not cry, but celebrates after every massacre of Israeli children as a result of suicide bombings and Qassam launches from their territory, do you remember the celebrations in the squares of all Arab localities in following the collapse of the twins in 2001? I will not forget!
      In Europe, anti-Semitic racism reaches levels of 48% of the population.
      Even in Israel there are idiots, thankfully reach 6% of the population, far from any reality on this Planet!

      Reply to Comment
    37. “I have no faith in the efficacy of prayer, and I very much doubt that the haters among the Israelis would do anything but laugh at their good wishes.”
      .
      I wasn’t asking anybody to do what these teenagers have chosen to do. I was suggesting that you try to think in the way that they think. They were hurt by those comments (bear in mind that the comments are death wishes directed against them personally) but their first concern was how to react compassionately. This seems to be a secondary consideration for a lot of people on the Internet who profess an interest in the situation, if it’s even a consideration at all.
      .
      I also hope that the comments will open people’s eyes, but so that they can respond constructively, not so that they can gloat over the comments or demonise the people who made them. I understand the racist climate very well; I felt it the first time when I was asked by security at Ben-Gurion Airport, “Do you have Arab friends? Why?” But there is a difference between fighting against that climate and fostering hatred against people.

      Reply to Comment
    38. rose

      little angels

      Reply to Comment
    39. aristeides

      Vicky – I see no problem in demonizing these individuals. I see no use in conferring impunity on them. They made their statements, they should pay the consequences, whatever they turn out to be. Calling out the individuals in public can be efficacious is altering the climate.

      .
      When Eden Abgeril posted her photos of abusing Palestinian prisoners, should she have been given a pass? No, she was demonized, she deserved it, and the incident opened some eyes.

      .
      My goal, my target is not the immediate victims of these remarks, but the large mass of those who enable them by denying that such incidents exist, or, if they do, that they are rare exceptions. There comes a point, when case after case after case is cited, that it’s impossible to say, “These are rare exceptions,” when people will be forced to acknowledge the pervasive climate of hatefilled racism in which people feel free to make hatefilled racist remarks.

      .
      It’s a slow process. One eye at a time. But it has to be done.

      Reply to Comment
    40. aristeides

      btw – I notice that on the Haaretz site, as I predicted, there are at least three comments claiming that the controversial racist comments were made by “Jew haters” to make Israel look bad.

      .
      As if it takes “Jew haters” to do that, not just racist Israeli Jews.

      Reply to Comment
    41. Sinjim

      @Ayla: I don’t see these comments as fringe opinions. How can it be when the state itself provides material and moral support to racists and when racists are an integral part of the government? No, this is entirely within the mainstream of the society — even if not all or most Israelis would voice such opinions.
      .
      Sure, it’s uncomfortable for Israelis to see this facet of their society, and sure there will be those who respond by becoming very defensive and reflecting the blame back on the people who point it out. Yet, that’s not a reason to ignore it.
      .
      So I couldn’t disagree more with the notion that we shouldn’t expose bigotry where we find it. Ignoring it will never make it go away. Bringing it to light at the very least informs us of the extent of the problem.

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    42. Passerby

      This discussion is simply surreal.
      ——–
      We have Palestinian supporters talking about Israeli racism and bigotry as being mainstream, part of Israeli society, “enabled” by the rest of Israeli society and so on.
      ——-
      And who is saying this? One guy who uses antisemitic language and another guy who is a member of a society whose religious leaders call on the murder of Jews (not just Israelis or Zionists), whose TV programming glorifies the murder of Israeli civilians and whose government denies the actual history of the Jewish people.
      —-
      Truly incredible.

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    43. aristeides

      And Passerby continues his futile campaign of argumentum ad hominem, the last refuge of those with no valid case.

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    44. Passerby

      Surreal.

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    45. AYLA

      @Sinjim–1)on whether or not these are fringe opinions: they are. there are different levels of racism. being happy that palestinian children died in a school bus accident? Please trust me: that’s above and beyond even Israel’s usual racism, even from the Right; it’s really out there. Most Israelis are shocked by this response. Keep in mind, too, that already “talk backs” generally attract the crazies, but again, this is beyond. 2) whether or not to spread it: I don’t have the answers; I’ve shared my thoughts on this already, in the form of questions. I can only say that I think our actions have grave effects, and we should take them very seriously. Take care.

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    46. AYLA

      Vicky–I appreciate your comments very much, as always. there is no one else like you here; perhaps anywhere. I’ll certainly agree with you that racism, generally, is not uncommon in Israel. This level? Totally fringe (possibly in the same percentages as those celebrating the Fogel baby murder). But that doesn’t mean it’s not important to stare it down. That this kind of response is even possible, and not greeted with horror on that thread, is scary. Take care.

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    47. AYLA

      p.s Vicky–let me put it to you this way: all the Israel supporters who post here in earnest (not the bonafide hasbarists…) who truly believe that Palestinians wish them dead just for being Jewish and/or Israeli… You take them on, and beautifully, you know better. How? From polls? No: from knowing Palestinians. But where do you think those Israel supporters get those ideas? Folklore? They get them from links such as this one that show some Palestinians celebrating the deaths of some Israelis–links that get disproportionate attention, purposefully from people who want to depict Palestinians that way to promote the conflict. Absolutely, there is terrible racism in Israel. Commonplace racism. Fear. But celebrating a schoolbus accident of innocent children? Really, I promise you: it’s fringe. that you and Sinjim, both people I respect tremendously who are exposed to a lot, don’t think so, is a problem worth addressing, just as you address it when you hear it conversely.

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    48. Ayla, for me the primary issue is that the occupation has killed children and continues to kill children by the hundred, not just through bombs and bullets but through ingrained procedural violence: ambulances not allowed to pass checkpoints until it’s too late (a close friend in Bethlehem lost her baby son because of this), children living in grossly overcrowded and unhealthy conditions because their communities are not given either basic services or building permits, medical staff not being able to attend conferences abroad to further their knowledge and skills, and so it goes on. Sometimes sick people are transferred to hospitals in Israel at a price: the patients or their families have to make a deal with the Shin Bet. If they refuse to participate, no treatment. I personally know two people who have lost relatives because they wouldn’t agree to the deal. All this stems from the direct and deliberate policy of the elected government.
      .
      I agree with you that most Israeli people wouldn’t dream of expressing hateful sentiments about children’s deaths in a bus crash. A Likud voter might feel real disgust over the comments that have been made, and sympathise with the bereaved families – yet he himself has supported policies that kill. It is such policies that have created a climate wherein a fringe group of people feel comfortable in coming out and expressing horrible ideas like this. First and foremost, the occupation teaches that Palestinian lives can be ignored. Most Israelis will never encounter a person who lives under occupation unless they do so from the other side of a gun, and only then for a period of about three years. Occupation and how it affects its victims is not something you really have to think about if you live in Netanya. Palestinians might as well not even exist for you. There’s not such a large gap between being able to ignore your neighbours’ lives and learning to hold those lives worthless.
      .
      In Britain right now there is a worrying level of venom being directed against disabled and chronically ill people. Recently the Guardian published an article featuring disabled women who have been seriously harassed in the street over the legitimacy of their disability. The majority of people in Britain would never do that to a sick or disabled person, but with its relentless targeting of disability welfare benefits through the budget cuts and the constant ‘tough on scroungers’ rhetoric, the government has created a society wherein certain people feel this is perfectly OK. The majority of people might condemn their abusive hateful behaviour, and condemn it very indignantly – the comments on that article were full of such condemnations. But how many of those commenters have contributed to this abusive climate by supporting those harsh policies? The policies had a lot of public support, whipped up by the tabloid press; it’s hardly a coincidence that documented hate crimes against people with disabilities have shot up since their introduction. It’s impossible to divorce the street abuse from the far more frightening, socially sanctioned discrimination. It is very difficult for people to accept this, but they need to do so if Britain is to become a society where vulnerability isn’t seen as a character flaw verging on a crime.
      .
      I think something similar is happening in Israel, and these comments highlight that. Person A doesn’t want children dead. Person A is horrified that anyone would gloat over the death of a child. But Person A believes in the necessity of the military rule and the tight movement restrictions that killed my friend Sylvana’s son. For how much longer? When I say that I hope the comments will open people’s eyes, I mean that I hope that people will start putting two and two together.

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    49. Passerby

      Vicki,
      I put two and two together and got that Fady and a bunch of anti-Israelis got a lot of mileage from some Israeli idiots.
      ———-
      It’s obnoxious to claim that hundreds of Palestinian children die because of Israel. I mean, truly obnoxious. It’s an outright falsehood. It’s a blood libel.
      ——–
      You should be ashamed of the accusations you make and the fact that you attribute it to willful blindness and bigotry by Israelis is no less shameful.
      ——-
      Let’s put aside statistics which show that Palestinians are healthier than ever before (healthier even than Americans), live longer (even longer than Americans) and have one of the world’s lowest infant mortality rates…all achieved under Israeli rule.
      ——-
      Let’s also put aside all of your touching but completely unverifiable personal stories. I’ve got a bunch of stories as well with people who remain maimed and families who have lost loved ones to Palestinians.
      ———
      Maybe you should be blaming the death of your friend’s son on the people who forced Israel to tighten its rules for movement of the Palestinians? Isn’t that what caused it? Palestinians are so bigoted and hateful of Jews that they attempt/ed to slaughter them at every opportunity. It is this bigotry towards Jews who live in Israel that forced the Israelis to tighten restrictions on the Palestinians. You can go to a Hamas or Fatah website and plant your accusations of child murder there.
      ———-

      Ayla, you wrote, “Please trust me: that’s above and beyond even Israel’s usual racism, even from the Right;”
      ——-
      Really? Israel’s usual racism? Apparently we move around in completely different circles.

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