In his testimony before the commission of inquiry into the 1994 massacre at the Tomb of the Patriarchs, then-army Chief of Staff Ehud Barak argued that the crime of Baruch Goldstein struck the Israel Defense Forces “like a bolt from the blue”; in other words, the slaughter that Goldstein carried out could not have been predicted, and thus foiled, and therefore no one in Israel’s political or military leadership was responsible for it. The Shin Bet security services also had its excuses, starting with the challenge of “the single attacker,” who strikes without the preliminary signs that an organization would give.
The murder of Ali Dawabsheh in Duma early Friday morning was no bolt from the blue. The fire that consumed Ali and injured his family in their sleep was ignited long before and could be seen for miles, like a flare on a dark night. It was not a single attacker who fire-bombed Palestinian civilians, and it was not the first incident of its kind, even though until now the results have been less lethal.
If a commission of inquiry is appointed to look into the terror attack in Duma, it will easily note the negligence of the Jewish division of the Shin Bet security service and the nationalist crimes unit of the Judea and Samaria District Police in eliminating the disease of Jewish terror in the territories.
The search for the responsible parties must reach very high, to Shin Bet chief Yoram Cohen and, most of all, to Benjamin Netanyahu himself, because the Shin Bet is directly subordinate to the prime minister, who dictates its priorities and its resources, and also because the premier is supposed to orchestrate all of the security and intelligence agencies. If the incident was a terror attack, and the Shin Bet is responsible for preventing terror, then the ultimate responsibility of the government and the executive branches is clear.
But just as Goldstein did not actually act alone, but rather within an atmosphere that was hostile to the peace process and hospitable to stopping it using any means possible, and just as Yigal Amir set out to kill Yitzhak Rabin against a background of sympathetic rabbis and ideology, so too was this fire ignited by incitement and, even more so, by deflection.
The loud denunciations of Ali Dawabsheh’s murder distract attention from the fundamental fact that Jewish settlement in the territories is the mother of all sins. It stains the morality of Israeli society and undermines the universal legitimacy that Israel enjoyed, and still enjoys, within its legal borders.
The differences between the “legitimate” settlement blocs and the “hilltop youth” are imaginary and deceptive, even to part of Israel’s center-left. Both of them, together with their ultranationalist counterparts on the Palestinian side, exacerbate and perpetuate this bloody conflict. As long as an honest and courageous leadership that recognizes this fact does not rise up in Israel, Israelis and Palestinians alike will be struck be more bolts and flares, crimes and catastrophes. As long as the settlements continue to wreak their terror and enslave Israel to their violent vision, the bloodshed will not cease.