For the week before the Gaza invasion began, gangs of Israelis had been roaming the streets of Jerusalem and other towns shouting ‘Death to Arabs’ and grabbing any Palestinian they could find and beating them mercilessly. Now, the Israeli military seems to have taken up the cry, and are carrying out the same kind of practice, but on a much larger scale, with much bigger weaponry.The deaths of three Israeli teenagers at the hands of unknown assailants became the impetus for a wave of violence throughout Jerusalem, the West Bank and different cities in Israel, as ‘mob rule’ became the reality for over a week, with police standing by and rarely taking action against the racist mobs.
The most horrific incident was the kidnapping and burning to death of Palestinian teen Mohammad abu Khdeir on uly 2nd. The Israeli men who carried out this brutal act had first removed a child’s carseat from their Subaru, then drove around the streets of East Jerusalem looking for a Palestinian, preferably a child, to kidnap and murder. This is what they told police in their statement when they were eventually arrested. Initially, Israeli police tried to blame other Palestinians for the attack, and seemed rather nonchalant about actually trying to catch the perpetrators, despite video footage of the incident and eyewitnesses who had taken down the license number of the Subaru.
Now, two weeks later, the death of Mohammad abu Khdeir at the hands of brutal racists pales in comparison to the depth of the destruction and violence raining down on the people of Gaza. The charred body of 16-year old Mohammad Abu Khdeir has been multiplied hundreds of times over: hundreds of charred and dismembered bodies, children screaming as their limbs are torn off by U.S.-subsidized bombs and tank shells.
What had been one brutal incident of racist violence, which, standing on its own, was easy to condemn as an isolated act of radical right-wing racists has quickly turned into a policy backed, with almost no dissent, by the entire Israeli nation.
No matter how many images of charred and broken bodies come out of Gaza, members of the Israeli public (and their supporters in the U.S. Congress) will find a way to do some mental gymnastics and twist the narrative to somehow blame Hamas for the Israeli army’s brutality.
Let’s not forget that, on July 6th, despite the previous week of Israeli mob, settler and military violence that had resulted in the deaths of 13 Palestinians (BEFORE the Gaza invasion began), Hamas leaders in Gaza had offered a ceasefire with Israel.
Israeli officials responded by saying that Hamas should issue a unilateral ceasefire, and then Israel would see what it would do. Four Palestinian shells fired on July 7th (not by Hamas, but by other Palestinian groups), which caused no injuries or damage, were then pointed at by Israeli leaders as the reason for the massive, full-scale military attack on Gaza on July 8th. But put into the larger context of the Israeli military occupation, which has controlled every aspect of Palestinians’ lives for over forty years, these homemade shells can in no way justify the brutality of the Israeli military’s actions – in fact, the opposite may be true.
Instead of accepting Hamas’ ceasefire offer, Israel launched a massive assault on children & families in Gaza. Maybe they wanted to draw attention away from the mobs of right-wing Israelis that had been parading through Jerusalem shouting ‘Death to Arabs’ for the previous week – more likely, they’d been planning an attack on Gaza and have just been waiting for an opportunity – any opportunity – to launch a full-scale assault.
If a person wanted to be super-cynical they might point out that the biggest industry in Israel is weapons manufacturing – what better way to get rid of a bunch of old stock and prove the effectiveness of your product to potential buyers than to attack a bunch of civilians who are imprisoned in one of the most crowded places on earth?
Since the Gaza invasion began in earnest, right-wing Israeli racists continue their attacks on Palestinians and Israeli leftists in Jerusalem and around Israel, parading through the Al Aqsa mosque compound after Israeli soldiers closed it to Muslim worshipers, holding rallies and marches shouting support for the late Meir Kahane, who advocated ethnic cleansing of Palestinians from Palestine, and replacing the indigenous Palestinians with Jewish immigrants.
Israeli Members of the Knesset (Parliament) have also openly advocated ethnic cleansing of Palestinians, using racist statements like “Violence is the only language that Arabs understand” and “Palestinians are little snakes who should all be stamped out”.
People living in Sderot, near the border with Gaza, have been gathering on a hilltop overlooking Gaza each night and cheering as the bombs drop on the civilian population below. A CNN reporter who was threatened with violence by these Israelis called them ‘scum’ on her Twitter account, then deleted the tweet afew minutes later and was promptly removed from the country by CNN for her ‘impropriety’ of referring to a gang of people which threatened her life and property as ‘scum’.
Israeli leftists have been attacked for voicing dissenting views, while police have stood by and watched it happen. Anti-miscegenation groups have cropped up all over Israel, passing out stickers and leaflets saying “Jews love Jews” and urging anyone who sees a Jewish person in a relationship with an Arab to ‘intervene’ and call a hotline to ‘get them help’ for their ‘problem’.
Israeli legislator Michael Ben-Ari called all Palestinian children “little terrorists”, and called on Netanyahu to begin the major military operation that Israeli officials had been threatening for months, to “make Ramadan into a month of darkness for them!”
Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu told his soldiers to “take the gloves off” in attacking Gaza. It seems that in doing so, the mask of Israeli legitimacy has come off as well, and the ugly racist undercurrent of Zionism has come to the forefront. The hypocrisy beneath the claim that Israel can be both a Zionist, exclusively Jewish state and a democratic state at the same time has been exposed, and people have been forced to choose one or the other. Unfortunately for all of us, the vast majority of Israelis have chosen racist, exclusivist Zionism over a democracy with equal rights for all people.
Right now, Israeli racists are freely and openly advocating ethnic cleansing, their use of racial slurs against all Arabs have become acceptable, and a terrifying unanimity has gripped virtually the entire Israeli public with one rallying cry defining, in a phrase, the essence of what all too many Israelis actually believe as a necessary (albeit unpleasant) means to achieve the ends of Zionism: “Death to Arabs”.