This AWTWNS news packet for the week of 7 July 2014 contains one article. It may be reproduced or used in any way, in whole or in part, as long as it is credited.
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Israel: An atrocious, murdering state
7 July 2014. A World to Win News Service. Three Israeli youths, Naftali Frenkel, Gilad Shaer, both 16, and Eyal Yifrach, 19, were kidnapped near the West Bank city of Hebron 12 June and subsequently murdered. On 2 July, 16-year-old Mohammed Abu Khdair was kidnapped in Jerusalem and burned alive. In both cases, Israel manifested the vicious and loathsome essence of the guiding Zionist principle it openly proclaims, that no law or morality is higher than the maintenance of a Jewish state in Palestine.
No matter who was responsible for the death of the three settler teenagers, the Israeli government treated it as a godsend for their project. Their concern was not so much to find the killers – the government claimed it knew who they were and was certain about their affiliation with Hamas – but to take it as a pretext to impose collective punishment on Palestinians within the borders of Israel and on the West Bank, and to justify their attacks on Gaza.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu did not call for justice. He called for “revenge”. The head of the biggest Zionist world youth movement called for the Israeli army to model itself on and surpass a Biblical story in which Jews mutilate the penises of 300 men from a people Israelis consider the ancestors of today’s Palestinians.
Israeli troops destroyed the homes of the families of the two Palestinian men the government named as suspects in the kidnapping, and family members were taken into custody. During the three weeks before the Israelis’ bodies were found, in “Operation Brother’s Keeper” Israeli security forces killed at least six Palestinians, including the 15-year old Mahmoud Dudeen, arrested 545 people and violently invaded 1,300 Palestinian homes, educational institutions and other sites.
This official policy of taking revenge on Palestinians as a people – demonstrating that Arabs have no rights in Israeli eyes and violently asserting that might makes right – set the tone for what followed.
When Israeli soldiers invaded the Jenin refugee camp on the West Bank and shot the 16-year-old Palestinian youth Abu Zagha in the chest, they celebrated this as an act of “revenge” on their Facebook account, Kulanuu. Some 70,000 people “liked” their page with its photo of the teenager’s bloody corpse.
Free of official constraint and urged on by Jewish religious and political authorities, on several occasions mobs of first dozens and then hundreds of people gathered in Jerusalem to chant “Kill the Arabs”. They demanded that passers-by say what time it was so that they could check their accents, and stopped cars to determine if their occupants were Jewish. They harassed, roughed up and in some cases beat people suspected of being Arabs.
Israeli media reported that the Israelis arrested and charged with the death of the young Palestinian burned alive in East Jerusalem had participated in those anti-Arab pogroms a few hours earlier. (Pogrom is the term for anti-Jewish riots carried out by Russians with the encouragement of the Czarist regime during the early twentieth century.)
It would have been hard for the Netanyahu government not to arrests suspects in his killing, because Palestinians released two videos showing two young men about to grab the boy, whom they found sitting alone in the darkness outside his parents’ home before morning prayers. The kidnappers’ car is also visible. Witnesses chased the fleeing car, and wrote down the license plate number. The same car was also filmed in an unsuccessful attempt to kidnap an nine-year-old Palestinian child the day before.
Yet when Mohammed Abu Khdair’s burned body was found, the Israeli authorities claimed to have no idea what had happened to him. Their first response was to seal off the Shuafat neighbourhood in East Jerusalem where he lived and used rubber-coated bullets, live rounds, tear gas and clubs to clear the streets of protesters gathering around his family’s home. Red Crescent medics say 170 Palestinians were injured, including half a dozen journalists.
The revelation that he was burned to death came from a Palestinian forensic official present at the autopsy and not the Israeli government. Later, a Palestinian Authority official said that Abu Khdair “was probably forced to drink fuel” before he was set on fire.
At first, the police announced they were focusing on “moral or criminal motives”, implying that Palestinians were responsible. This encouraged Israeli social media rumours that the boy’s own family murdered him because they thought he was homosexual, with the fact that he had been burned alive somehow supposedly proof that it was a Moslem “honour killing”. This view of Arabs as morally inferior subhumans had been stated by Netanyahu himself, after the three Israelis were killed, when he said “our enemies” – Palestinians – “sanctify death and we sanctify life. They sanctify cruelty and we sanctify mercy.”
The police refused to release the boy’s body during the day after the autopsy, so that he could be buried immediately according to both Jewish and Moslem custom. They tried to turn over his body to his family in the middle of the next night, when the authorities hoped fewer people would attend the funeral.
Netanyahu labelled Khdair’s killing “despicable”. It may have been, for his government, inconvenient, but the idea that the men who killed him were an aberration and not a product of Israeli society and official policy was proved false by what happened to Mohammed Abu Khdair’s 15-year-old cousin Tariq Abu Khdair.
Mohammed’s cousin Tariq was present during a protest in East Jerusalem on the day of the funeral, attended by thousands. The police fired tear gas and stun grenades at the large crowd marching down the street. Police grabbed the boy. A now widely-seen mobile phone video shows him lying on the ground on his stomach, his hands bound behind his back, while two police repeatedly punch him in the face and stomp on his back and skull.
The other police who came on the scene did not rescue Tariq. Instead, they arrested him. Eventually he was hospitalized but the police came to carry him off to jail.
Tariq’s family says he was just watching the protest when the police grabbed him at random. Israeli officials claim that he had fought with police and was carrying a slingshot. Even if that were true, there is not much moral difference between viciously beating one unconscious, hog-tied Palestinian boy and burning another one, except that Tariq happened to survive.
Tariq might have been allowed – or forced – to die in custody or rotted in prison like so many hundreds of other Palestinian children if he had not turned out to be an American, and if his American aunt had not called attention to the video and clearly and very articulately explained, in American English, just what happened. She also called attention to the many other “cousins” – the many boys the police beat that day and before. Even the U.S. State Department was forced to mouth that while it would not do anything to help the child, it was “profoundly troubled” – in other words, embarrassed by this exposure of some truth about a country that would not exist without American aid and military backing. The Netanyahu government’s response was to sentence him to house arrest – without a trial – until he and his family return to Florida.
Since Mohammad’s burned body was found, some of the biggest protests seen in recent years have broken out throughout the West Bank, and, significantly, Arab towns within Israel’s formal borders, from the north to the Negav desert in the south. Residents of the neighbourhoods remaining to Palestinians in Jerusalem are reportedly forming watch groups to keep out Israeli civilian marauders. Israelis have also organized protests against the treatment of Palestinians, and some are said to have joined the watch groups. Israeli authorities are pressuring and threatening Arab traditional leaders and politicians in Israel to “restore peace”.
On the West Bank, the Palestinian Authority police, whose ability to control Palestinian youth would be key in any “two-state” solution, have lost more legitimacy than ever because of their complicity with the Israeli military’s revenge campaign that led to Mohammed’s murder.
There are likely to be wider regional repercussions.
This atrocious crime – so poorly timed, from the point of view of the overall Zionist project – shows that Israel can not so easily turn off the golem (a sort of Jewish Frankenstein), the settler movement and the “national religious” (sort of a Jewish ISIS) fanatics they created. But, in the end, what interests do these seething, blood-thirsty forces serve?
As consciously reactionary as many gun-totting settlers and their urban counterparts are, including a penchant for personally bullying, beating and sometimes killing Palestinians, they are simply eager beneficiaries of policies implemented by all Israeli governments and funded by Washington, and, in the end, one of the resources used by the U.S., which cannot do without its Zionist outpost in a highly contested region it needs to dominate if it is to keep its position in the world.
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Several recent articles incorrectly referred to the Kurdish Autonomous Regional Government in Iraq. The correct name is the Kurdish Regional Government.