Nationalistic Motives, Indeed

The Shin Bet said Ori Ansbacher’s rape-murder was committed for ‘nationalistic’ motives. And at the crime scene, the nationalistically-motivated violence committed by Israel screams from every inch

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The scene were Ansbacher's body was found, Ein Yael, February 7, 2019.
The scene were Ansbacher's body was found, Ein Yael, February 7, 2019.Credit: Mahmoud Illean/AP
Amira Hass
Amira Hass

All the parties were interested in having the murder of Ori Ansbacher declared an attack of nationalistic motivation. The family of the suspect will not have to bear the shame of a son who raped a girl and then murdered her. There’s no heroism here. But if the Shin Bet says it’s nationalistic, they know what they’re talking about.

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It’s doubtful that this certification of “nationalistic” motives will bring any economic bonuses to the family, as several Israeli commentators hastened to mansplain; those Palestinian Authority allowances are given to prisoners only after a few years behind bars. The expected demolition of the family’s home, on the other hand, is hardly trivial, economically or emotionally. The family will lose any permits it had to work in Israel, and the nighttime raids on their home by the army will increase. The trips to the Ofer Military Court are expensive and time-consuming, and the family will probably have to pay a large fine as part of the sentence. When the act is wrapped in the cellophane of continuing the Palestinian armed struggle, these difficulties seem to shrink. At least outwardly.

The nationalistic coloring allows the Palestinian family and society to repress a troubling question about a son who had already been arrested for carrying a knife near Israeli security positions at the Cave of the Patriarchs and the entrance to the Al-Aqsa plaza. Had the suspect been seeking a way to commit suicide by cop or soldier, like other frustrated, desperate young Palestinians who lack a political perspective or personal future? The rape and murder took place near the Border Police checkpoint on the road leading to the village of Walaja, which is closed off by a wall, and the settlement of Har Gilo, which is expanding onto its lands. Was he hoping to reach the checkpoint, wave a knife and be shot to death, but then happened upon the young woman? Both suicide by cop and rape-murder, even if cloaked in patriotism, betray the weakness of the present Palestinian struggle.

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On the scale of victimhood, too, a nationalist-motivated murder is considered more prestigious than an “ordinary” murder or sexual assault committed by a man, as a man, against a woman.

For the Israeli planning authorities in the West Bank, this will be an opportunity – which they will justify in somber, fateful tones echoing with history – to steal more Palestinian land on the pretext of security. Just yesterday they demolished another home in Walaja.

Because the murder victim lived in the settlement of Tekoa, the symbolic stock of the settler nation has risen, due to yet another sacrifice it has offered up for the Land of Israel. Declaring the murder a nationalistic attack gave it yet another reason to launch a campaign of intimidation and stone-throwing at Palestinians in Hebron, and on the roads of the West Bank, on Saturday and Sunday – at the Beit Fajjar junction (Gush Etzion), near the villages of Beitillu and Ras Karkar west of Ramallah, and on Route 60 en route to the Hawara checkpoint. At Beit Fajjar and Ras Karkar police closed the road to Palestinian traffic. That’s what the settlers want, to pressure the army to regularly block more and more roads to the Palestinians, thus advancing their goal of emptying Area C (which encompasses 61 percent of the West Bank) of non-Jews.

On the other hand, what isn’t “nationalistic” in our country? What about cancelling the train route in the mainly Arab-populated Wadi Ara, for example, or the abundant water available to Tekoa for agriculture and domestic use, while the villages and cities in the Bethlehem area live on water quotas and water delivered by tanker trucks? It’s two weeks since the murder of Hamdi Na’asan from the village of Al-Mughayyir and we haven’t heard of any suspect being arrested – that’s “nationalistic” negligence and contempt.

All the crimes Israel has committed on Walaja’s lands to annex them to Jerusalem and allocate them to Jewish settlements were of the same nature. Ansbacher was raped and murdered on the border of the (Israeli) national park that was declared a few years ago on the village’s private lands and olive orchards, from which the village is now cut off by the separation barrier. The violence committed here for nationalistic motives screams from every inch.

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