Oceans of ink, rainforests of paper and gigabytes of cyberspace have been used up in the reactions by Israelis to the murder of little Ali Dawabshe.
The Israeli Left has piled on to the Right, essentially blaming the entire right-wing for his murder (this is beyond the tragic death of Shira Banki, the 16 year old girl who had been critically injured in the Gay Pride parade). Even American Jews got in the act, saying that Israeli condemnations are not enough. I do not remember American Jewish groups condemning the frequent stonings and firebombings of Israelis that take place all the time all over Israel.
In fact a member of that most maligned sector of the most maligned people in the world, a Jewish settler, took part in a leftist condolence “peace visit” to Duma, and found that the people of Duma are not as tolerant as portrayed in the MSM (mainstream media):
Yonadav wrote on his Facebook page that his purpose was to express words of condolence, and also to “give a clear message that there are some acts that have no justification, whether they are directed against Jews or against Arabs…I emphasized that though I am of the right-wing and support the expansion of the settlement enterprise, there are some approaches that are simply not legitimate, and that they are not supported by the Jews of Judea and Samaria.”
The trip to Duma was organized by a left-wing group called Tag Meir (Illuminating Tag), which is a Hebrew play on words on Tag Mechir, the nationalist “Price Tag” group that aims to avenge anti-Jewish violence and destruction.
Tapuchi acknowledged in his post that there are many in Judea and Samaria who are disgusted by the one-way nature of condolence trips of this sort, in that the Jews immediately condemn and express remorse over such violence, while the Arabs openly support the murder of Jews.
“When we arrived at the village, we were surrounded by Arab photographers. We were informed that the original plan had been changed, and that before visiting the actual mourning family, we would first see the burnt houses. Thus, a bunch of Jews with their heads held low were photographed near and in the burnt houses and the Hebrew graffiti there. A representative of the family and the village then gave a short speech (‘the settlers should expect the worst!,’ he warned). We were then told that actually, the village is quite up in arms, and that it would not be convenient for us to actually comfort the mourning family, and that we had better leave fast.
“I and others felt that this whole thing was a media trick to get the ‘Yahud’ [Arabic for ‘the Jews’ – ed.] to take part in humiliating set of photos near the buildings, and that they had never planned to allow us to come in actual contact with the family.”
The third set of impressions that Yonadav Tapuchi came away with concerned the suspicious nature of the alleged arson. He did not mention that there have been reports of an ongoing, 18-year feud between two clans in Duma that might be related to the murderous arson. In addition, one of the two graffiti messages – the single word nekamah, meaning “revenge” – has calligraphic elements that raise the suspicion that it was actually sprayed by an Arab.
Read the whole disturbing article.
At first the Right accepted the blame and engaged in a strong bout of self-examination and self-flagellation, a lot of which was timely and very necessary. (You might also be interested in a fascinating essay from a few years ago on Israel’s constant self-criticism by Richard Landes at The Augean Stables: “Self-criticism and cultural development“. It’s rather long but well worth the read).
But the piling-on became such that it brought about a backlash of sorts. Here are a few reactions which I feel express my own feelings and you may find interesting. on the other hand you might well strongly disagree with me or find these sentiments uncomfortable, distressing, or politically incorrect. I don’t apologize. It’s a free country (most of the time).
One opinion piece which I’m sure you will agree is a very well-written post by Ayala Shapira‘s parents. They posted it in Hebrew on their Facebook page All4Ayala, and 0404 News reposted it. I did not shorten the piece as I usually do because the Shapiras were determined that their words should not be distorted or taken out of context. Below is my (hopefully accurate) translation:
Over the last day, we received a number of inquiries from media organizations to talk about the murder of the infant Ali Dawabshe.
Because of the complexity of the issue we preferred not to talk about it to the media, where our words might be edited and cut, and maybe their meaning changed, but to write here, where we can choose what we say.
Media outlets consider this case to be the mirror image of the attack in which Ayala was injured.
We also see the similarities between the cases: in both cases children were burned alive, deliberately and with bestial cruelty.
But at this point the similarity ends.
Burning at the stake has always been considered a particularly cruel method of execution.
The Jewish heart can not help but cringe at the thought of what happened to the Dawabshe family. The person who ignited the fire in their home is a criminal, and there is no community in the country that sees him as their representative.
The State of Israel is financing the Dawabshe family’s stay in the hospital and the devoted care that they receive like any all foreign patients.
Ayala’s injury story is completely different. The terrorist who threw the Molotov cocktail on our vehicle was a messenger of his people. That is how he and they see it, and therefore the Palestinian Authority financially reward the families of the prisoners, and the attack was seen by both sides as part of a comprehensive and ongoing campaign.
That is why we find the pursuit of the “lone wolf attacker” in this case unnecessary and worthless. The policy of turning a blind eye to the overall problem and burying one’s head in the sand, saying “did they get him?” does not promote in any way the security of Israeli citizens.
There is much to discuss about the differences between Jewish culture in particular and western culture in general, and Arab culture, and the clash between these cultures inevitably leads to war.
If we wish to live consistently with our values, we must be prepared to fight for these values until victory.
When the State of Israel chooses to give weapons to the enemy, to expel Jews from their homes, to give their homes to their declared enemies and to avoid any clear political statement, it pulls the rug out from under her own values and legitimizes violence as a means to gain victories.
In such an atmosphere crazy people are likely to rise, those who declare a private war and set out on Price Tag operations with no political purpose.
A consistent policy of transferring land to full Israeli rule and the expulsion of supporters of foreign national bodies, would save a lot of blood on both sides.
Ahmed Dawabshe, Ali’s older brother, arrived at the intensive care unit at Sheba, the same point at which Ayala’s long journey began, just days before her expected release from the Rehabilitation Department and the beginning of her return to normal life.
We decided to reach out to the Dawabshe family, not as representatives of both sides of the map, but as human beings who have travelled a very similar path that Ahmed will have to travel.
This journey is long and not easy. In addition, little Ahmed’s parents can not stay by his side, as they both are hospitalized in critical condition, and his grandfather is replacing them at his bedside.
From the early days of her injury Ayala, many people with similar experience came to encourage us, support us and light our way.
In the last 6 months since Ayala left intensive care, we too tried to visit and encourage families of those injured in various different circumstances.
In our experience, there is nothing that makes it easier to bear the burden than knowing that there are those who travelled this route before you, and from seeing a clear picture of a whole life waiting for you at the end of the road.
This is what we have tried to give many families we met along the way, including family Dawabshe.
We wish Ahmed and his parents a speedy recovery.
Avner and Ruth Shapira
The Shapiras are an amazing family and their daughter Ayala is a hero. May Ayala continue on her road to a complete recovery and I echo their wish for Ahmed Dawabshe and his parents to have a complete and speedy recovery.
A rather strong post by Orit Arfa appeared on Israellycool in which she declares “I will not accept unearned guilt for a crime I did not commit“:
Apparently, due to the fact that my paternal grandparents were Holocaust survivors and my maternal grandparents fled the Farhud (Arab pogroms) of Iraq, and due to the fact that I have a Jewish education, I am responsible for every act of terror perpetrated by Jews, whether against Arabs, gays or any other minority in Israel.
How do I know this? Because Jewish columnists and bloggers make me feel as such.
The Times of Israel (TOI) has been especially filled with breast beatings, with editor David Horovitz writing: “But if it was Jewish terrorists who struck overnight — and the spraying of graffiti in Hebrew at the scene of the awful crime would appear to leave little room for doubt — then we Jewish Israelis most certainly need to be shocked.”
MK Yair Lapid, in the publication’s featured blogs, writes: “We are at war: He who burns a Palestinian baby declares war on the State of Israel. He who stabs young people at a Pride March declares war on the State of Israel.”
They don’t rush to disassociate themselves from other crimes, such as when Jewish mobsters kill a rival in a car bomb, or when some abusive Jewish husband shoots his wife, and not to mention when an Arab hacks a Jew to death.
Some of my Facebook friends have argued with me that Jews must distance themselves from terror committed by Jews to inspire Muslims to do the same toward their terrorists, to show that we are “different.” I resent even the suggestion that acts of terror committed by Jews are analogous to Islamic terrorism. The scope, frequency, and ideology, plain for all to see – unless they just want to hate — cannot even compare. No need to defensively rattle off statistics, which just plays into the haters’ hands.
It should be taken for granted that I find such acts despicable – not because I’m a Jew but because I’m a human being – and expect the perpetrators to be tried and, when found guilty, punished.
Paula Stern in the Times of Israel writes “I am disgusted‘ – and you will be very interested to know precisely what it is that disgusts her:
I am disgusted that any Jew, especially one who claims to be religious, especially one who claims to be “ultra” religious, can stab innocent people not in defense, which may be allowed according to our laws, but simply because those people choose to live their lives according to rules that he does not believe in.
I am disgusted that no matter how much this horrible, disgusting, hate-filled, ignorant crime is condemned by all spectrums of Israeli society — including members of this man’s “tribe” — it isn’t good enough and so innocents from that community are being hounded and hunted and hated, even though they too are innocent and simply trying to live their lives according to the rules they believe in.
I am disgusted that a baby was burned to death in an arson attack. No baby, Arab, Christian or Jew should be the victim of violence and as a mother of five and a grandmother of three, I agonize with that baby’s family, with his mother, his grandmother.
I am disgusted with media and journalists and people who have rushed, before the police know the facts, to condemn not just the act, but a specific group of people for the crime of arson and murder. What do you gain by accusing, perhaps falsely? Do you win some great award by identifying, without evidence (or with two Hebrew words written on a wall as your only evidence when there are hundreds of thousands of Arabs who can write in Hebrew)?
I am disgusted at the violent stoning attacks — hundreds of them (60 last week alone, with 22 people injured), that have taken place in the last few days, weeks and months. People have been hurt; damage caused. Mostly, though, there have been miracles — as with the endless missiles that missed. God watches over His people and so, in some twisted logic that I cannot understand, if the missile misses, it’s okay; it isn’t like it was aimed at 300,000 civilians. It hit an empty field…move on to the next news item (if it is even reported).
I am disgusted that I do not see condemnation of the Arabs again trying to burn down the Tomb of Joseph in Nablus. Is this not an attack on all Jews? Yes, Joseph died thousands of years ago, is he no longer ours?
I am disgusted that our disgust can never be bi-directional. I am so deeply saddened that the ghetto mentality thrives, even here in Israel. Don’t make waves; don’t make noise. Ignore the violence; expect it. Don’t, whatever you do, don’t hit back — they’ll only come and hit us all worse. Be quiet.
They say we murdered that child — quickly apologize, be horrified, be sorry.
We are horrified. No child should die in violence. We are sorry. No child should die in violence. But why, good God, why are we apologizing before we even know who did it? Because some media outlet decided that was the case?
Because the world decided that if a Jew dies it was probably because an Arab killed him and if an Arab dies it was probably because a Jew killed him? Is that the logic that rules our lives?
Act by act, we must react, but only, only when we have the facts.
If you believe that what happened in one small Arab village called Duma represents Israel in any way, you truly do not know this people, this land. I am disgusted that in grabbing the ears of the media to bemoan an imperfect society, you slander a nation and people who have done so much, for so many, for so long.
Similar sentiments are expressed articulately by Arlene Kushner who decries the rush to judgement:
What has been widely suggested is that the perpetrators were “radical settlers” from a nearby Jewish community – with “settler,” in this context, a pejorative. The fact is, however, that there are as yet no suspects who have been identified.
The shock and horror that ran through Jews in Israel on receiving the news of this attack was multilayered. The situation is complex and should not be viewed simplistically.
There was, first, a stunned sorrow, on learning that a baby had been destroyed, that a family had been attacked in their home. This simply should not happen. No matter the circumstances. No matter the perpetrator.
But then there was the difficulty of taking in the fact that it may have been Jews who did this. Jews are not supposed to behave thus. It felt – a gut reaction – as if such an act demeaned us as a people, shamed us. The question that haunts: Is this what we have been reduced to?
The answer, of course, is no, for “we” collectively, “we” who mourn and condemn such acts, know that this is not the way we are as a people. This is not what we condone.
I think Prime Minister Netanyahu set a proper tone after the news broke. Without pointing a finger, he spoke of the “horrific, heinous” crime that is “a terror attack in every respect,” and declared that “the State of Israel deals forcefully with terror, regardless of who the perpetrators are.” The meaning here was clear. The Israeli government, he said, was “unified in its fierce opposition to these awful, base acts.”
Subsequently, the prime minister went to visit members of the Dawabsha family in Tel HaShomer Hospital. There were demonstrations to register opposition to terrorism; rabbis who spoke out forcefully against use of violence for resolving societal problems; editorials that decried what our society was in danger of becoming and demanded communal soul-searching.
And so, there was a way in which it was possible to say, you see! We have demonstrated that this is not what what we are! We have demonstrated among ourselves and before the world that we are different. We stand against violence.
And yet there was a point at which all of this ceased to resonate positively with me. There was too much breast-beating, a tone that echoed a sort of communal guilt that was not appropriate. Because, damn it, we ARE different, and should be secure in that knowledge. Condemning the terrorism implicit in burning a baby, whether done by Jews or not, is one thing. Assuming that our whole society is on the verge of condoning terrorism – or is generating a terrorist mentality – is something else.
In another context, columnist and author Ruthie Blum commented today, with considerable clarity, that when Palestinian Arabs commit terrorist attacks, they are being called “lone wolves,” but when a Jew is a terrorist – or commits acts of great violence – it is somehow said to be the fault of the whole society.
Arlene goes on to mention the rather suspicious circumstances surrounding the firebombing of the Dawabshe house:
Arlene decries too the lack of response to the constant drip-drip of terror attacks against Israelis whereas a single terror attack by (maybe) Israelis against Palestinians receives massive worldwide attention.
The Elder of Ziyon helpfully reminds us that “By the way, Arabs throw firebombs at Jews every day”:
According to Shin Bet, in June there were 98 firebombs thrown by Arabs in June, 50 of them in Jerusalem.
This was lower than the 129 Molotov cocktails hurled in May.
I don’t know how many were aimed at residential buildings and how many at other objects like cars, but one can find plenty of photos and videos of Arabs throwing Molotov cocktails at houses.
Luckily, no one was burned to death in these cases that happen multiple times every day,
In this video, firebombs were hurled at Maale Zeitim, a Jewish residential neighbourhood on the Mt. of Olives in Jerusalem, where a fire then broke out:
The latest attack was a couple of days ago:
The woman driver was seriously burned – but:
As I am always reminding my readers, we must keep in mind the world’s double standards when it comes to Israel, and the bias of the media (as you can see for example in the rmy post at Legal Insurrection on the lack of reporting on Ayala Shapira’s attack).
There is no doubt that we have to examine ourselves and our own society, but let’s wait till all the facts are in before we start slinging accusations about.