Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the murder “reprehensible and horrific.” President Reuven Rivlin wrote: “My people have lost their sense of humanity.” Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon said it was a “terrorist attack,” and Education Minister Naftali Bennett issues a call to “punish the murders to the full extent of the law.”
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To tell the truth, it was impossible to remain silent in the face of the despicable murder on Friday of the infant Ali Dawabsheh in the cruelest possible manner – by burning.
Later, senior Likud and right-wing officials also condemned the murder of teenager Shira Banki at the Jerusalem Gay Pride parade on Thursday. Said Netanyahu: “Shira was murdered by a vile person.” For his part, Bennett added that, “this is a day where our image has become one of darkness to the nations instead of a light unto the nations.”
But what can you do? All of these statements are nothing but empty words with nothing to back them up. It was not this week that we turned from light into darkness, Mr. Bennett: These acts of murder, arson, breaking bones, oppression, incitement and theft of land in the territories did not start yesterday. Do you remember the burning of the Palestinian teenager Mohammed Abu Khdeir by kippah-wearing Jews, just a year ago?
This process of turning into beasts started 48 years ago, immediately after the victory of the Six-Day War in 1967, when Gush Emunim took control of the country with a messianic fervor, while sanctifying stones and graves and debasing human beings – a form of idol worship that is the opposite of Judaism. The false messiahs Moshe Levinger and Hanan Porat determined the fate of Israel then, changing us from a moral and pioneering nation that was loved around the world to a hated and out-of-bounds country, and to a cruel nation, an immoral one that oppresses another people – and in so doing destroys itself.
The two murders, in the West Bank and Jerusalem, are one and the same. Both stem from the same cruel spring of the occupation, which destroys moral inhibitions. At first we become cruel only to the Arabs in the territories, after that we also turn inward, to soldiers, police, people of the center and left – to the murder of Emil Grunzweig, the murder of Yitzhak Rabin and the murder of everyone who is different.
The Green Line cannot stop this education to hatred, violence and dehumanization. What happens in the territories spills over into the State of Israel, and morphs into cruelty toward the elderly, to violence among the youth, and then to acts of murder. Everything flows from the same source. It is all the horrible price of the occupation.
The occupation is cruel by nature. It is oppressive by its very existence. The occupation is a deterministic process that leads to a loss of moral limits on the part of the occupier, and then to acts of horror and cruelty on both sides of the Green Line. We will see many more like them.
That is why it is impossible to accept the words of “shock” expressed by those who fan the flames, who perpetuate the occupation and fund the settlements: Netanyahu, Rivlin, Ya’alon, Bennett, and all the rest of the ministers of the Likud and right wing. They cannot wash their hands clean. Using all the right words at the moment will not help.
Since 2008, there have been 15 cases of intentional arson attacks on homes and mosques in the West Bank – and the police and Shin Bet security service have not solved even one of them. This is not a coincidence. It is a policy. Just last week Netanyahu declared he would provide building permits for another 300 buildings in the West Bank because of the demolition of the Dreinhoff buildings in Beit El, which were built, criminally, on private Palestinian land. What is this if not the encouragement of pogromists?
History has a strange nature; it repeats itself with devilish precision. Some 2,000 years ago a cult of messianic and crazy zealots revolted against the great Roman Empire, caused a bloody civil war, brought about the burning of Jerusalem, the destruction of the Second Temple, the annihilation of the cities of Israel, and led the remnants of the Jewish people into an exile that lasted 2,000 years.
This is exactly where a modern cult of zealots, messianic and crazy, is leading us to today. It was once called Gush Emunim and now it unites all the extremists on the right and is leading us on exactly the same path of deepening the occupation, rebelling against the nations of the world, toward a war of Gog and Magog – and the end of the Third Temple.