The footage shown on Channel 10 news Wednesday night can only be described as “sickening”.
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The video, which was seized by Israeli police, shows hundreds of Jews dancing at a Jerusalem wedding, guns and knives in hand. One stabs at a photo of Ali Dawabsheh, the baby who was burned alive along with his parents by Jewish terrorists in the West Bank village of Duma earlier this year. Another is holding up a Molotov cocktail.
While this is going on, the participants - many of them friends of the suspects in the Duma firebombing, according to Channel 10 - sing in praise of vengeance. Guns are passed among the celebrants, including children.
In the early 1980s, the Israeli philosopher Yeshayahu Leibowitz coined the highly controversial term “Judeo-Nazis” to describe Israel’s conduct during the First Lebanon war and Israel's mounting militarization. But that was then. The footage of extremists now celebrating the cold-blooded murder of an innocent toddler begs a more up-to-date term for this sort of bloodlust, motivated by religious fanaticism – Judeo-ISIS, perhaps.
The video was met with wall-to-wall condemnation. "Shocking," Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the images, adding that they exposed “the real face of a group that poses danger to Israeli society and security.” Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid said “these people are not Jews and they must be fought against, same as Hamas or Hezbollah.” Even the Yesha Council of Jewish Communities in Judea and Samaria expressed outrage.
The outrage of the Israeli politicians should be taken with a healthy grain of salt.
The malignant tumor that is Judeo-ISIS did not grow in a vacuum. It was fermented by right-wing MKs funneling money and resources to settlements for decades; making racist statements in order to pander to right-wing radicals; taking selfies with Meir Kahane-supporting thugs in full fascist regalia, like Culture Minister Miri Regev; it was abetted by politicians who launched social media campaigns in favor of torture and death penalties, like former MK Sharon Gal; who called for the destruction of Gaza and the indiscriminate killing of Palestinians during Operation Protective Edge, like Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked; who incited against “Arab voters going to the polls in droves” in order to get reelected, like Netanyahu.
The images of this horror wedding are reprehensible, but it’s important to put our disgust into context. The images did not reveal anything we didn’t know. They are not the first of their kind. Such “celebrations”, featuring the same sort of racist chants and bloodlust, have been taking place for two decades at least.
This clip was not an anomaly and the celebrants are not some fringe pohenomenon. It is a manifestation of a malignancy that has been allowed to grow and metastasize, thanks to opportunist politicians and public apathy.
It is the inevitable result of ministers inciting people from settlement rooftops, it is the result of MKs calling for the Supreme Court to be demolished with bulldozers, of MKs calling Palestinians “animals”, of ordinary people beating foreigners bus stations while screaming “death to Arabs!”, of thugs looking for Arabs to beat up in the streets of Jerusalem - and seeing they can get away with it.
But it’s not just politicians on the right who should take responsibility. Left-wing and centrist politicians also played an important part in creating the atmosphere that led to the radicalization of the right, whether by turning a blind eye to it, or by actively pandering to Israel’s increasingly right-leaning electorate.
The clip is the inevitable result of Israel's continued presence in the West Bank. It is also the result of incessantly denying evidence contradicting Israel's self-image as the most moral nation that ever was. (As luck would have it, the release of the wedding video comes at the heels of a very public, very ugly onslaught carried out by right-wing and centrist politicians against Breaking the Silence and other left-wing NGOs that try to remind Israelis of the moral price involved with occupying millions of Palestinians.)
Israeli society is behaving like a man who accuses the doctor telling him he has cancer of lying - then expresses shock when he finds that the tumor he refused to acknowledge has metastasized.
Despite the platitudes of right-wing politicians, it seems Israel is far from ready to acknowledge its sickness.
It doesn’t take an oracle to predict that Israeli politicians will continue to shirk their responsibility for the growth of Jewish terrorism. Already, the footage has been co-opted to propel government efforts to empower Israel’s security establishment even more: Shortly after the images were broadcast, Netanyahu said theyshow "how important it is to have a strong Shin Bet.”
The release of this video during a heated public debate over the alleged torture of the Duma suspects is also far from coincidental.
And if the only lesson Israel learns from this is that the solution to right-wing radicalization is to strengthen the mechanisms of occupation, the same mechanisms that allowed it to exist in the first place, then Jewish extremists can go on celebrating for a long, long time.