Give Hebron Shooter a Medal

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Elor Azaria, an Israeli soldier charged with manslaughter after shooting a wounded Palestinian assailant in the head, is greeted by friends and relatives as he arrives home in Ramle, on April 22, 2016.
Elor Azaria, an Israeli soldier charged with manslaughter after shooting a wounded Palestinian assailant in the head, is greeted as he arrives home in Ramle, on April 22, 2016.Credit: AFP

Over a decade ago, an Israeli nongovernmental organization tried to revive the rotting corpse of what was called “the theory of coexistence between Arabs and Jews within the Green Line.” The resuscitation efforts failed; the rift between the two peoples cannot be healed, due to the racism that has spread through almost every layer of Jewish Israeli society.

I’ve had the chance to meet the true racists, the messianists who believe only in Jewish existence. For instance, Danny Danon, Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations, who, when I interviewed him, was chairman of World Likud. His crude, extremist statements led me to an unshakable belief: Coexistence and/or peace is a fantasy. I decided this after Danon declared unequivocally that an additional state will never be established between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea.

The interview was carried out in the context of my writing for the Hebrew and Arabic newspaper Du-et, which the organization in question published. The publication folded after a few years, but while it was active it gave both sides the opportunity to expound their ideas, a development welcomed by all.

The meeting with Danon passed quietly, since he made his insulting remarks without batting an eye. In contrast, my meeting with the late Hanan Porat, then a former Knesset member as well as an open and avowed land thief, was full of emotion, tense and burning. It took place in a settlement in what is called, in the Zionist lexicon, Gush Etzion.

At 5 A.M. on February 25, 1994, the Jewish holiday of Purim, the mass murderer Baruch Goldstein arrived at the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron wearing an Israel Defense Forces uniform. Some 800 Muslims had come to the cave for Friday prayers before the start of the Ramadan fast. Goldstein, using his IDF-issue Galil rifle, murdered 29 of them and wounded 125. After he stopped shooting — whether because he ran out of ammunition or because his rifle jammed — the Muslim worshipers overpowered him and beat him to death with a fire extinguisher.

Porat drank wine and was filmed saying, “Happy Purim, Jews.” It was only natural that I’d ask him about his schadenfreude, and even more natural that he’d claim his words were taken out of context.

Flagstones were laid around Goldstein’s grave and a sink, a bookcase, a case for lighting memorial candles and other amenities were installed. The gravesite is near a well-tended park. The headstone, the paving and the amenities effectively create a memorial shrine to Goldstein. His grave has become a pilgrimage site for those who support his act.

The inscription on the headstone describes Goldstein as a martyr and a saint. In 1999, Israel’s High Court of Justice ordered the demolition of a memorial to him in the settlement of Kiryat Arba demolished. This followed the passage of a law sponsored by then-MK Ran Cohen of Meretz that forbids setting up memorials to the perpetrators of terror attacks. The justices noted in their ruling that the site had become a pilgrimage site and served as a source of sympathy for and encouragement of similar acts.

Since then, much water has flowed through the Jordan River. In Hebron last month, a soldier of the occupation army, Elor Azaria, committed a murder/manslaughter in cold blood, killing a Palestinian who was lying on the ground wounded. The public outcry, which is still roiling the state of all its racists, didn’t stem from outrage over this criminal act, but from the fact that the B’Tselem organization videotaped the execution and published the video clip. After all, a light trigger finger has become one of the symbols of the IDF, “the most moral army in the world.”

The saga hasn’t ended. Right-wingers (as if there were any leftists in this country), headed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, have mobilized to help the soldier. Netanyahu “only” called Azaria’s father. In other words, he gave him backing.

This column isn’t long enough to detail all the expressions of support for the killer soldier. And as if that weren’t enough, of all the ironies, a demonstration in his support, attended by a few thousand people, was organized in Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square, the place where Yigal Amir murdered Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin.

Woe to the people that supports a loathsome murderer, who, after carrying out his plot, shook hands with the most extreme of extremists, Baruch Marzel. Everything that has happened in the case of this soldier is a badge of shame for what remains, if anything remains, of Israeli democracy.

Therefore, my proposal is simple: Withdraw the charges against the soldier, give him a medal of honor and establish a new army unit in his name whose sole function will be to murder Arabs. After all, in the book “The King’s Torah,” the authors wrote: Anywhere the presence of a non-Jew poses a threat to Israel, it’s permissible to kill him.

The author is a Palestinian-Arab commentator.