In the unlikely case that you missed the news from Israel over the past few days, there have been two cases of extreme violence in Israel committed by Israelis (as opposed to the usual multiple cases of Arab violence, of which there were dozens of attacks over Shabbat) which have led to enormous turmoil and self-criticism, as well as the usual finger-pointing, in Israeli society
The Gay Pride Parade Attack
In the first instance, Yishai Schlissel, an Orthodox Jewish man attacked the gay pride parade which took place in Jerusalem on Thursday. He stabbed 6 people, injuring one girl very seriously and another 5 people moderately. See the shocking photo below.
Schlissel was arrested on the spot and it turns out he has done this before! 10 years ago he stabbed a participant in the gay pride event in Jerusalem and was only released from his long prison sentence 3 weeks ago. This is a “fashla” (screw-up) of the police in a massive way. Schlissel should either have not been released for another 3 weeks, or he should have had an electronic tracker attached to him, or an injunction should have been issued against him keeping him out of Jerusalem for at least a few months.
Contrary to the usual denials or bluster from the Orthodox establishment it is gratifying to note that despite the target of the attack being the gay pride event (which is considered completely treif by most Orthodox Jews) the Rabbinate, including the Chief Rabbis of Israel, all condemned the attack and went to visit the injured victims.
I hope that in future these events will be able to take place peacefully and in safety, and despite the controversy surrounding them, Israel will continue to be a tolerant beacon in this violent corner of the world.
Arson and murder in Duma
A much more serious attack took place during the night following this attack. Unknown infiltrators entered the Palestinian town of Duma and set fire to two houses. One house was empty but the other house contained the Dawabshe family who were asleep at the time. The Dawabshes woke up when the fire started, but despite the efforts of the parents, their baby Ali, only 18 months old, was killed and the parents and other children severely burned.
When the emergency services arrived they found Hebrew graffiti scrawled on the walls of the house saying “Nekama” – “Revenge”, “Yechi Hamelech Hamashiach” – “long live the King Messiah” and a Magen David. Immediate suspicion of course has fallen on Jewish terrorists, and the finger of suspicion has been pointing ever since at “settlers”.
This attack is so sickening on so many levels that I barely have words to express what I feel.
The thought that Jews could do such a thing, that Jews could stoop to the level of the lowest of the Palestinian terrorists, that Israelis could think that anything could be gained from burning Palestinian houses, whether they knew they were occupied or not, is beyond comprehension.
The thought that Jews could think that murder is permitted in any context at all staggers me. “Thou shalt not murder” says G-d in the 10 Commandments that we read in shul just yesterday.
I can’t help hoping and praying that the perpetrators are not Jews after all, but the sickening feeling just won’t leave me.
The only compensating thought that abides within me is that even though we have murderers and perverts in our midst, what separates us from our violent neighbours is how we treat them and how we react to them.
Condemnation of the attacks have come from across the Israeli spectrum, from Left to Right, from the Prime Minister on down. You can be sure that when the perpetrators are caught, whether they are Jewish or Muslim, Israeli or Palestinian, settlers or Tel Avivians, they will receive the full force of the law, they will be duly punished, and they will be spat out of decent society. This as opposed to the Palestinians who not only tolerate but glorify their murderers, and name schools, public squares and children’s summer camps after them.
In reaction to this latest extreme violence, anti-violence rallies, aka peace rallies, took place on Saturday night.
Unfortunately there was hardly any room given for the right-wing to speak or defend their side which certainly did not alleviate tensions. Exacerbating this was the cancellation by the Tel Aviv rally’s organizers of Naftali Bennett’s invitation to address the Tel Aviv rally. What is the point of not listening to the other side? Why listen only to your own echo? How will that bring about peace to a riven society? Not to mention the lack of peace rallies by the Palestinians:
The social media and political reactions have not been backwards in coming forwards with their analyses, finger-pointing, blame-casting, and general commentary.
Here are some Twitter reactions that reflect my own opinion:
But Israelis cannot help but notice and resent the double standards applied to Jewish victims of Palestinian terrorism as opposed to the wide broadcast of the murder of little Ali Dawabshe:
Rachel Molschky has a long list of Jewish victims of Arab terrorism which barely made the news overseas.
Some good reading on this subject:
Prof. Jacobson at Legal Insurrection: In memory of Ali Dawabshe and Hadas Fogel:
While the perpetrators have not been captured as of this writing, the Israeli government and IDF are calling it an act of “Jewish terrorism.” The word “revenge” was spray painted on the wall in Hebrew. Ali’s father Saad and mother Riham, and 4-year-old brother Ahmad, are in the hospital in very serious condition with life-threatening burns.
The attack was condemned by all facets of Israeli society including the Prime Minister and political leaders, as well as Jewish organizations around the world. There is a lot of soul searching going on.
Aussie Dave at Israellycool: Thou shalt not murder:
There is no way it is G-d’s will to have His name desecrated in commission of crimes going against one of His Ten Commandments.
There are no ifs and buts about it. These are deplorable, evil acts and we need to speak out promptly and clearly against them, just like we do against palestinian terrorism.
And yes, I do consider them also to be terrorism, rather than simply “hate crimes.” True, these are not the acts of terror organizations, but rather individuals. However, this is not a prerequisite for terrorism, which can be defined as “the unlawful use of force and violence against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives.”
This is not to say there is an equivalence between the respective societies. For a start, these acts are being roundly condemned by almost all of Israeli society – including (importantly) religious leaders. As Israeli Chief Rabbi Lau said yesterday, “The Torah forbids any act of violence… It is clear to all that this is not the way of the Torah and of Judaism.”
Another difference: our Prime Minister has condemned them. Unequivocally. For instance, this was his reaction to the murder of the palestinian child:
And not just the Prime Minister. Politicians on all sides of the political spectrum have denounced them. For example:
Jewish Home party leader Naftali Bennett said the attack was not “a ‘hate crime’ or a ‘price tag’ — it’s murder.
“Terror is terror is terror,” Bennett added. “The torching of the house in Duma and the murder of the baby is a shocking terror attack that is unfathomable.”
Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Liberman condemned the “heinous act,” and urged the security forces to do their utmost to track down the killers.
Compare the palestinian response to the Har Nof terror attack last year:
Another thing: these Jewish terrorists will not have any streets named after them.
Every society has sickness and evil within it. The true litmus test of a society is how prevalent & institutionalized it is, and how the society as a whole deals with it.
And Abu Yehuda writes an Open Letter to President Abbas who was so self-righteous in his condemnation of the Duma murder:
We’re human too. We have our criminals, our assassins, and even our terrorists. Of course we don’t treat them as heroes. We don’t broadcast incitement on our radio and television stations. Rabbis don’t exhort their congregations every Shabbat to go out and kill Arabs. We don’t hand out sweets when a murder is committed.
Our security forces will surely catch the perpetrators and our society will spit them out. They will be punished, perhaps even more severely than Arab terrorists. Terrorism is terrorism.
Good luck with the UN. I’m sure they will be happy to set up your commission of inquiry, something they’ve never done after any of the hundreds of incidents of murderous Arab terrorism.
First of all I send my sincere condolences to the Dawabshe family on their terrible loss of their baby son. I also wish the surviving family refuah shlema, a speedy recovery from their horrific injuries. Similarly I send refuah shlema wishes to all the injured victims from the gay pride parade.
Most importantly, we need to confront the extremists and the poison that they spread amongst us. We need to be courageous in standing up to them and withstand the quailing in our heart at the thought of washing our dirty linen in public.
But we also need to stop wallowing in how bad and evil we are, for this can paralyse us and prevent us from taking positive pro-active steps to work towards mending our society. We need to accept that evil exists everywhere, and be thankful that we are not like our neighbours who glorify the evil and reward the murderers.