Only one murder suspect and a minor whose role is unclear? Is that what came of the investigation into the torching of the Dawabsheh home in Duma and the murder of three family members? There’s no underground? No terrorist infrastructure? Just a “wild weed,” a “nutty” young man whose screws are loose even though he’s the son of a rabbi? What a disappointment.
There’s still some vague hope that the Shin Bet security service will find a few friends of the suspect, Amiram Ben-Uliel; that someone will say something without the need for torture so Ben-Uliel can be convicted.
But all in all the feeling is one of failure, or better put, defeat. The entire state is in the dock, a state that’s unable to stop terror attacks by settlers, a state that belittles the death of Palestinian children, women and the elderly.
The investigation should have uncovered the moral nakedness of the settlers, the extreme right and the core right. It should have cleared the Shin Bet of the accusation of foot-dragging and evasiveness in rooting out terror when it’s Jewish terror.
The test case of Israeli democracy that will prove that the state doesn’t distinguish between Jews and Arabs, neither in torture nor in indictments, has been left like an opera without a chorus and lead singers. There is no story.
Ostensibly, the conspiracy- and collective-incitement theory – under which the murder suspect’s environment led him and his friends on – has come crashing down. They’re part of religious Zionism, that “community dear and faithful to the state that contributes to the state, that contributes to the IDF, that contributes to the most elite units in the IDF,” as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu put it.
The community that contains the Ben-Uliel family and the family of the minor known as A. can wash its hands of the matter. It’s innocent not only because it receives the benefit of the doubt, but also because of a lack of evidence of guilt. A sinner or three will not stain the entire dear community.
No one would dare accuse this community of subversive action against the state and its laws. It will remain a sacred enclave, a state within two states, Israel and Palestine, in which Israeli law isn’t always enforced. It will remain a community that has abundant weapons in its storerooms, that chops down olive trees and takes over private Palestinian land. But a terrorist infrastructure? Not them.
A few dozen kilometers from the sacred enclave is another enclave, another state within a state, or, as Netanyahu put it in another of his slanderous remarks: “there are enclaves without law enforcement, with Islamist propaganda, with plenty of weapons.”
That enclave has its own version of the “hilltop youth,” its own “wild weeds.” It also has a dangerous murderer who’s apparently “nutty.” Nashat Melhem, like his counterpart Ben-Uliel, thumbs his nose at the leadership, parents and clergy.
But an ocean separates the two enclaves. The accusation against Ben-Uliel as a “lone murderer” ostensibly absolves the camp from which he emerged. Melhem, by his acts, strengthens even further the Israeli-Jewish notion that he’s the natural outcome of his enclave.
That’s because an Arab who kills a Jew is obvious. An Arab who doesn’t kill a Jew – there’s something wrong with him. After all, he comes from a hostile society and culture that feeds him Islamist hatred. How can we believe an Arab that condemns Melhem’s actions? In his heart he’s probably rejoicing.
In contrast, a Jew who burns Arab children to death – that’s something inconceivable. After all, the Jewish enclave that derives its values from the hard-line teachings of Rabbi Zvi Yehuda Kook or the extremist book “The King’s Torah,” or just from the Torah, knows how to distinguish between incitement and murder.
That’s because Jewish incitement, even when it comes out of the prime minister’s mouth, is only incitement, not terror. Arab incitement, in contrast, is attempted murder at the very least.
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