Only Israelis, Not Palestinians, Are Entitled to Mourn Their Dead

A single line passes between the death and bereavement ritual for the Israeli dead and the display of indifference, inhumanity and gloating over the other nation’s dead – a line of dehumanization

The funeral of Hadas Malka, June 17, 2017.
Israel Police

There’s something moving about a nation in mourning. There’s something disturbing when it is dictated from the top by cynical media and politicians, solely to serve their needs. And there’s something repulsive when a nation answers the call to mourn for people it didn’t know, yet its heart remains callous and closed to the deaths it causes another nation.

A single line passes between the death and bereavement ritual for the Israeli dead and the display of indifference, inhumanity and gloating over the other nation’s dead – a line of dehumanization. Israel, which collectively grieves for a slain border policewoman, ignores, curses or rejoices in view of the no-less-brutal killing of a Palestinian teenager wielding a screwdriver.

Nobody expects Israel to mourn the death of a Palestinian like the death of one of its own people. It’s only human to feel closest to your own. What isn’t human is the unthinkable gap between the radical death ritual over slain Israelis and the radical insensitivity regarding slain Palestinians.

The border policewoman Hadas Malka was killed (not murdered; soldiers and policemen are killed, not murdered) by a young Palestinian who stabbed her to death. The death of a 23-year-old woman is shocking. Her picture, smiling in striped camouflage paints, touches the heart. Her life was cut short and the lives of her family members were destroyed; one’s heart goes out to them.

And yet, the national mourning was excessive. Yedioth Ahronoth enlisted at once for its favorite task – yanking on the heartstrings and squeezing out the tears. It covered a meeting between the last bereaved father and the father before him from four months ago. It ran front-page headlines for two days. “My Hadar, your Hadas.” Well, the paper is fighting for its survival.

The prime minister said of Malka during a condolence call: “The child of all of us and the hero of us all.” The president said: “The whole nation of Israel salutes you.” Everyone competed at voicing shock and sympathy, but Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely outdid them all. “Hadas Malka, heroine of the war of light against darkness, the war of purity against brutality,” she said.

So here’s how it is: Armed policemen, whose duty is to preserve the occupation in East Jerusalem by force and violence, represent light and purity. Dispossession, oppression, occupation, brutality and abuse are light and purity. Resisting them is brutality and darkness. Where is the bottom?

But it wasn’t only Hotovely; even Reuven Rivlin the moderate said: “Hadas and her colleagues make every person in Jerusalem feel safe when they go about their daily routine.” Did the president hear what he was saying? Did he mean what he heard? Does an Israeli border policeman make every person in Jerusalem feel safe? Every person? Or perhaps only every Jew? Is it possible that whoever isn’t Jewish in Jerusalem isn’t a person in the president’s eyes? Do the Palestinian residents feel safe seeing the border policemen patrolling their city like armed thugs with excessively quick trigger fingers, who sometimes abuse the residents without even shooting? Does the president really think the Border Police guard the Palestinians’ security? Interesting. The Border Police never heard about this mission.

Two weeks before Malka was killed, 15-year old Nouf Enfeat was shot to death. First the army said she attacked soldiers with a knife, then the story changed to a screwdriver. Later a video showed that as Enfeat was dying, soldiers and settlers stood over her, cursing her. In Israel, which was mourning Malka’s death, this appalling spectacle was received with indifference. Nobody was punished. Nor were any of Malka’s colleagues punished for wildly firing 15 bullets a week before at 15-year-old Ra’ad Hadeida, who tried to attack a policeman. His killing was hardly even reported in Israel. What, did someone die? His blood, like the blood of all his people, is dirt cheap.

Enfeat and Hadeida were a girl and a boy who sacrificed their lives in their nation’s struggle. Malka served her country. Nobody expects Israel to mourn their deaths like hers. But when Enfeat is cursed while she’s dying and Hadeida’s killing isn’t even mentioned, the picture is clear: We are the only ones entitled to mourn their dead. Only we are human. They aren’t.