Israeli President Reuven Rivlin is facing a barrage of hateful comments, including death threats, from Israeli citizens after he condemned the burning to death of a Palestinian baby by Jewish-Israeli settlers.
In the early hours of Friday, July 31, Jewish-Israelis firebombed a Palestinian home in the West Bank town of Duma, just south of Nablus. 18-month-old Ali Dawabshe was burned alive in his own cot. His mother, father and brother remain in critical condition. The killers spray-painted a Star of David on the charred walls of the house, and added the word “Revenge.”
This heinous act of violence come just a year after Jewish-Israeli settlers kidnapped Palestinian teen Mohammed Abu Khdeir, drove him to a Jerusalem forest, beat him, poured gasoline down his throat, and burned him alive from the inside out.
The morning after the Dawabshe family were burned in their beds, another Jewish-Israeli attacked Tel Aviv’s Gay Pride event, stabbing several LGBT people. 16-year-old Shira Banki was critically injured, and later died from her injuries.
It was clear to many of those who have watched with concern while mainstream Jewish-Israelis have continued to incite hatred and violence against non-Jews in Israel over recent years, that these acts of violence were not shocking aberrations. Instead, they are the tragic, inevitable consequence of such incitement.
As veteran Jewish-Israeli journalist Gideon Levy wrote in July 2014:
“All the seeds of the incitement of the past few years, all the nationalistic, racist legislation and the incendiary propaganda, the scare campaigns and the subversion of democracy by the right-wing camp – all these have borne fruit, and that fruit is rank and rotten. The nationalist right has now sunk to a new level, with almost the whole country following in its wake. The word “fascism,” which I try to use as little as possible, finally has its deserved place in the Israeli political discourse.”
A year later, President Rivlin has raised the same issue, calling the killings a ‘wake up call’ to Israel. He challenged Prime Minister Netanyahu and other leaders in Israeli society to go further than condemning the attacks, by challenging the whole narrative that make Palestinian life so cheap in Israel and the Occupied Territories.
“An atmosphere has been created here that has allowed leniency towards what is naively called ‘weeds,’” Rivlin stated.
“Every society has extremist fringes, but today we have to ask: what is it in the public atmosphere which allows extremism and extremists to walk in confidence, in broad daylight? What is it that has enabled these weeds to threaten the safety of the entire garden of flowers?” he asked.
“Citizens of Israel, a Jewish and democratic Israel, democratic and Jewish Israel, needs a wake-up call today.”
The speech, published in the Israeli press, received thousands of comments, with Rivlin widely condemned as an internal traitor to the Jewish State.
“Dirty traitor. Your end will be worse than (Ariel) Sharon’s,” reads one comment.
“In Russia you would have been found by this point cut up inside a shoe box.” Wrote another.
Jewish-Israelis began to circulate images of Rivlin on social media, photoshopped to wear a Keffiyeh – the traditional Palestinian headdress worn by Yasser Arafat.
Israeli police have set up an investigation into the death threats, and history tells us they should. The last time a prominent Israeli politician was portrayed wearing the keffiyeh, he was assassinated by a Jewish-Israeli.
In 1995, Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin concluded an historic peace deal with Palestinian leader Arafat, negotiated by U.S President Bill Clinton. It was the closest Israel came to renouncing the worst elements of its occupation of Palestine. However, the deal made him a pariah among the most hardline Zionist elements of Israel.
On November 4 that year, Israeli police allowed these groups to protest alongside a Tel Aviv peace rally at which Rabin addressed 100,000 Israelis. As the PM left the rally, 27-year-old Jewish-Israeli Yigal Amir shot him three times in the stomach and chest – killing him. Neither Amir nor his brother Hagai, who spent 16 years in prison for serving as his accomplice, expressed any regret over the assassination. Hagai said in 2014, “it needed to be done.”
Yet even for Hagai Amir, the current State of Israel has gone too far. According to The Times of Israel, Amir became critical during Operation Protective Edge, “saying Hamas was no less moral than the IDF and expressed sorrow at the deaths of Palestinian children in Gaza.” He also took to Facebook to write: “People wanted blood and they got blood,”
This is how far we have come. Israel has sunk so far into the mire of violence and incitement that even a convicted assassin thinks they’ve crossed the line; so far that they’re own President faces death threats for condemning the burning alive of a baby. Too far to possibly considered a member of the liberal democracy club.
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