Zionist racism on display
The disparity in the treatment of two bereaved families is a direct consequence of a Jewish state, writes Tony Greenstein
When three Israeli teenagers, Eyal Yifrah, Gilad Shaar and Naftali Frenkel, who were hitchhiking in the West Bank, were killed on June 12 by unknown assailants, Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu was under no doubt as to who was responsible. It was Palestinian “terrorists” - specifically the militant Islamist group, Hamas.
At what were effectively state funerals of the teenagers, Netanyahu waxed lyrical: “I know the pain of mourning; there is nothing worse than that,” he said, standing by the three coffins, each draped with the blue and white Israeli flag. Addressing their parents, he stated: “The whole nation has witnessed your inner strength and that of the rest of your family.” Their three youths had been “attacked by murderers, who violated the decree, ‘Never cast a hand on a child’.”
In subsequent days, Netanyahu gave full rein to the racist barbarism of the Zionist state. Israel launched 37 air strikes on Gaza - a defenceless target, which has been the subject of a blockade for eight years. The Israeli military demolished the houses of two Hamas members named by Israel as suspects in the abduction - Marwan Qawasmeh and Amer Abu Eisheh.
Fifty Palestinian militants, released under the deal to free Gilad Shalit, a captured Israeli soldier, were rearrested, proving that the Israeli state is incapable of sticking to an agreement. Netanyahu vowed that Hamas would “pay a heavy price” - although one wonders what on earth Hamas as an organisation would hope to gain by kidnapping and murdering three civilians. In remarks reminiscent of Menachem Begin’s description of Palestinians as “two-legged beasts”, Netanyahu informed us that the three Israeli teenagers had been murdered in cold blood by “wild beasts”.
When, a few days later, Netanyahu also condemned the murder of 16-year-old Palestinian Muhammad Abu Khdeir - almost certainly as a racist reprisal - he adopted a very different tone. Nothing about casting a hand on a child or the pain of mourning. After all, Palestinians do not mourn: they glory in violence. Whereas Netanyahu knew without a shadow of a doubt who was responsible for the killing of the Israeli teenagers, he did not “know the motives or identities of the murderers of Muhammad Abu Khdeir”. Yes, he was prepared to “unequivocally condemn” the murder of a Palestinian, but the police investigation was still ongoing and so he would not engage in further speculation.
Whereas it is likely that the murder of the Israeli teenagers was carried out by individual Palestinians, it is clear that the killers of Muhammad Abu Khdeir were settlers. The burning alive of the teenager testifies to their murderous racism and sadism.
Kiryat Arba, a settlement just outside Hebron, is known for the strength of the Jewish Nazi Kach movement. It has a memorial to Baruch Goldstein, who killed 29 Palestinians and injured 129 in Hebron in 1994. To the settlers Baruch Goldstein is a folk hero. Some idea of the virulence of the racism of Hebron settlers can be gauged by the graffiti daubed on nearby Palestinian houses - “Arabs to the gas chambers”. But obviously, there were no air strikes on the settlement where the nest of killers are based. Instead it is protected by the army. In Hebron itself 400 settlers have taken over the centre of the city, which was once bustling with thriving shops. But today Palestinians are forbidden to walk down the main street.
The Palestinians were collectively guilty for the actions of whoever killed the Israeli youths - just as the entire Greek people were held responsible by the Nazis for the actions of the partisans and German Jews for the assassination of Erich vom Rath, providing the excuse for the November 1938 ‘Kristallnacht’, when hundreds of Jews and their property were attacked. It is symptomatic of racist and fascist movements that they hold the people they demonise collectively responsible for the actions of individuals. The National Front did this in 1970s Britain and today in Europe rightwing politicians blame Muslims as one undifferentiated mass for the acts of extremists.
So too it is with the Zionists: being less than human, the Palestinians, according to mainstream Israeli culture, care little for the death of their loved ones. They will willingly send their children on jihad, because they lack the normal feelings that parents have for their offspring. There is only one response to what Dror Eydar, a columnist for Israel Hayom, described as a “Palestinian culture of death”. It is to inflict such violence that even the beasts of the terrorist nest that is Gaza think twice: “No-one negotiates with cancer cells - we fight to dig them out at the root.”1 This racist attitude was first articulated by former Israeli prime minister Golda Meir: “Peace will come when the Arabs start to love their children more than they hate us.”2
It is in these statements that the genocidal rationale of settler colonialism is best articulated. All human society requires a justification for its activities and the crimes of the colonists are no exception. The same is true of British imperialism. According to the British satirical magazine Punch in 1862, the Irish immigrant is a “creature manifestly between the gorilla and the negro ... When conversing with its kind, it talks a sort of gibberish. It is, moreover, a climbing animal, and may sometimes be seen ascending a ladder laden with a hod of bricks.”3
In 1869, New Mexico’s supreme court ruled in relation to native Americans: “The idea that a handful of wild, half-naked, thieving, plundering, murdering savages should be dignified with the sovereign attributes of nations, enter into solemn treaties and claim a country 500 miles wide by 1,000 miles long as theirs in fee simple, because they hunted buffalo or antelope over it, might do for a beautiful reading of Hiawatha, but is unsuited to the intelligence and justice of this age, or the natural rights of mankind.”4
The Nazis had defined the Jews as belonging to the Untermenschen, the sub-human races. Untermenschen also included the “masses from the east”, gypsies and Slavs, as well as black people and mulattos.5 Israel is therefore in good company and the racism of Zionism has come full circle - except that today instead of the Jews it is the Arabs who are the sub-humans.
This attitude was displayed once again in the treatment of the family of the murdered Palestinian, which was quite different to that of the parents of the Israeli teenagers. The 15-year-old cousin of Muhammad, Tarek Abu Khdeir, visiting for the summer from the US, was the victim of a savage beating by armed Israeli police. They kicked and punched him relentlessly while he was cuffed and lying on the ground - the whole incident was videoed.6 A campaign has been secretly waged by the Israeli police to discredit the Khdeir family, suggesting that Muhammad was a closet gay, killed in an ‘honour’ feud. The father and other close relatives were subject to intense and distressing questioning in police cells from the Israeli security services.
The disparity in treatment between the Israeli and the Palestinian families is indicative of what Zionism means in practice. That disparity is clear to many people, including those who see recent events as one-off incidents rather than the direct consequence of a Jewish state.
2. J Levy The agony of the promised land New York 2004, p187.
4. United States v Lucero, 1869: www.thephora.net/forum/archive/index.php/t-66961.html.
6. See www.jonathan-cook.net/blog/2014-07-05/four-families-grieve-one-is-under-assault.