I’m glad it’s Christmas and I’m glad yesterday was Christmas Eve my editor is not working for this story should be written for Newsweek, I can’t and I’m glad. I know it’s a digital world and whatever you write goes everywhere however, the events of the last few days need to be written. I cannot ignore the events of the last few days, but I am happy they will be appearing on my blog and not in Newsweek. The New York Times has a story this morning and it does a reasonable job of the describing the events of the last two days, but ultimately it’s missing a little context. Two nights ago Israel channel 10 broadcast a video of a wedding that took place two weeks ago, in which the young celebrants were dancing with guns and knives celebrating the burning of the Arab family Dawabsha. In the attack an infant and his Mother were burned to death while others were inured
The tape had undoubtedly been leaked by the Shin Bet, who was being criticized for their aggressive interrogation of the suspects in the killing. The Shin Bet has received court approval to use physical means to obtain the cooperation of those being held, and there were rumors that they have finally confessed. Protests took place in front of the home of the head of the Shin Bet and violent demonstrations have also taken place at the entrance to Jerusalem and other places. A number of right wing politicians attacked the actions of the security services. The service often uses physical means to obtain the cooperation of Palestinian prisoners and while the Israeli supreme court has outlawed such interrogations they created a loophole for the “ticking bomb theory”. That loophole has been generously interpreted by the Israeli security services and courts. In this case, they used the theory that those being held were planning additional attacks something that is more than likely although whether it was a ticking bomb or not is certainly up for interpretation.
While the question of how to interrogate prisoners is an important one and certainly deserves its’ own attention for the moment this is not the heart of the story. For the heart of the story is the celebration itself and what it means. It first and foremost says that A, those who burned the Dawabsha family were Jews, B that they have supporters. The film immediately received almost wall to wall condemnation, with even Prime Minister Netanyahu criticizing what was depicted there, although he was quick to say that Palestinian incitement is worse. Naftali Bennet the head of the right wing Bayit Hayehudi came out with the strongest condemnation claiming that people like that were the greatest threat to goals of the settlement movement. Some of the right wing spokesmen were a little more circumspect in their attacks, with Minister of Justice Shaked decrying the fact that the film was shown, with some still attacking the actions of the Shin Bet. A group of National Religious Rabbis issued a statement calling on the Shin Bet to stop interrogating suspects and asking that their confessions be thrown out.
The real question facing the Israeli public is whether those shown on the film are a small isolated group or in fact, represent a much larger group of people. I have no way of answering that, not living in their circle or almost ever visiting the West Bank. I fear however, it is. How much of the hatred has come from an education that emphasizes our superiority, or how much we are the “chosen people”? How many of the “true believer” think that they are doing gods work on earth? How different is that then the killers of ISIS? Furthermore, I always opposed the occupation not because of what we did to the Palestinians, ( who as a group I always felt were one of the least deserving of statehood of any national group) but rather what it did to us, what it did to our soldiers. You can’t be an occupier for three years and return unaffected. You cannot live in the middle of the West Bank in “hostile “ territory where you are hated and develop a love for your neighbors. People like to say that Jews do not do these sort of things, but Jews have also never in our recent history been occupiers. I don’t have answers, as anyone who reads me regular knows, we cannot make peace with ourselves, but we must understand that 45 plus years of occupation leads us down a path where some of our children turn out unrecognizable. The mutual hatred is very real. They hate us and many of us hate them, but we are the ones in power, and we must find the ways to insure that our children do not hate , that our children do not engage in hideous actions, that somehow despite 100 years of warfare we remain true to the values that make us deserving of being a people.