As Israeli Voices Call for Reflection, Troops Amass on Gaza Border

As the murder of a Palestinian teen prompts Israeli politicians and journalists to reexamine parts of Israeli culture, Israeli troops prepare for an escalation of hostilities in the south.

A ball of fire is seen following an Israeli air strike in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, on July 8, 2014.
National Journal
Kaveh Waddell
Add to Briefcase
See more stories about...
Kaveh Waddell
July 8, 2014, 9:57 a.m.

As some politi­cians and journ­al­ists made con­trite, con­cili­at­ory state­ments in re­sponse to the killing of a 16-year-old Palestini­an, Is­raeli troops amassed at the Ga­za bor­der and mil­it­ants in Ga­za lobbed rock­ets at each oth­er on Tues­day, in a show of mixed mes­saging from both sides.

Is­raeli re­ac­tions were ini­tially hos­tile fol­low­ing the dis­cov­ery of the bod­ies of three Is­raeli teen­agers last week: Eco­nomy Min­is­ter Naf­tali Ben­net called for “ac­tions, not words,” and Prime Min­is­ter Ben­jamin Net­an­yahu prom­ised that God will “avenge their blood.” But after three Is­rael­is were ar­res­ted and con­fessed to their in­volve­ment in the sub­sequent re­venge-fueled killing of a 16-year-old Palestini­an in Jer­u­s­alem, Is­raeli politi­cians and journ­al­ists from all sides tempered their mes­sages and con­demned the murder.

“I pledge that the per­pet­rat­ors of this hor­rif­ic crime will face the full weight of the law,” said Net­an­yahu on Sunday. “I know that in our so­ci­ety, the so­ci­ety of Is­rael, there is no place for such mur­der­ers.” But the prime min­is­ter could not res­ist in­clud­ing a dig aimed at Palestini­ans: “This is a dif­fer­ence between us and our neigh­bors. There, mur­der­ers are re­ceived as her­oes, and city squares are named in their hon­or.”

Voices else­where in the Is­raeli gov­ern­ment came out to de­nounce the murder of 16-year-old Muhammad Abu Kh­deir. Ofer She­lah, a mem­ber of par­lia­ment in the cent­rist Yesh At­id Party, re­acted to the news with a com­ment broad­cast on Is­raeli ra­dio: “If it’s true, this is an act of ter­ror­ism in every sense.” And in an op-ed coau­thored by the cur­rent pres­id­ent of Is­rael, Shi­mon Peres, and the pres­id­ent-elect, Re­uven Rivlin, the two spoke out against in­cite­ment and col­lect­ive ac­cus­a­tion. “In the State of Is­rael there is no dif­fer­ence between blood and blood,” Peres and Rivlin wrote. “The murder of a boy or a girl, Jew­ish or Ar­ab, is an un­ac­cept­able act.”

The ed­it­or­i­al staffs of two of Is­rael’s most prom­in­ent news­pa­pers came out with harsh in­dict­ments of the Is­raeli cul­tur­al norms that fueled the re­venge killing. Ha’aretz, Is­rael’s old­est daily news­pa­per, called for a “cul­tur­al re­volu­tion” in Is­rael. “Abu Kh­deir’s mur­der­ers are not ‘Jew­ish ex­trem­ists,’ ” the op-ed read. “They are the des­cend­ants and build­ers of a cul­ture of hate and ven­geance that is nur­tured and fer­til­ized by the guides of ‘the Jew­ish state’: Those for whom every Ar­ab is a bit­ter en­emy, simply be­cause they are Ar­ab.”

And Dav­id Horovitz, the found­ing ed­it­or of the Times of Is­rael and the former ed­it­or-in-chief of the Jer­u­s­alem Post, wrote of the need for Is­rael­is to shed their “mor­al su­peri­or­ity” over their Palestini­an neigh­bors. “We need to face up to the fact that our on­go­ing rule over the Palestini­ans, apart from en­dan­ger­ing Is­rael as a Jew­ish demo­cracy, is cor­rod­ing us, black­en­ing our hearts,” Horovitz wrote. “If the Jew­ish state, the home­land of the Jew­ish na­tion, does not thor­oughly em­bl­em­ize a rev­er­ence for life, we have no par­tic­u­lar right to be here at all.”

But as thinkers called for re­flec­tion in Jer­u­s­alem and Tel Aviv, the Is­rael De­fense Forces con­tin­ued to bom­bard the Ga­za Strip, re­portedly killing 11 Tues­day morn­ing. The pos­sib­il­ity of a ground as­sault re­mains on the table, a source in Net­an­yahu’s of­fice told Re­u­ters. The Is­raeli at­tacks are in re­sponse to more than 200 rock­ets that were launched from the Ga­za Strip since the Is­raeli mil­it­ary began search­ing for the three Is­raeli teens that dis­ap­peared June 12. No cas­u­al­ties were re­por­ted from these rock­ets. A Hamas op­er­at­ive de­clared Tues­day that the Is­raeli es­cal­a­tion means that “all Is­rael­is have be­come le­git­im­ate tar­gets.”

The back-to-back tra­gedies that res­ul­ted in the deaths of four teens, Is­raeli and Palestini­an, offered people on both sides of the con­flict a chance to con­sider the ef­fects of per­sist­ent hatred and mis­trust — qual­it­ies that have, over the long term, be­come em­bed­ded in ele­ments of both cul­tures. But the dis­trac­tion of ag­gres­sion and hos­til­ity on both sides may rob Is­rael­is and Palestini­ans of this op­por­tun­ity for re­flec­tion, in­stead en­trench­ing each even deep­er as rock­ets fly over­head.

What We're Following See More »
CONFIRMATION SHOULD BE SWIFT
Ambassador Nominee: Russia Meddled in Election
18 minutes ago
THE DETAILS

"President Donald Trump’s nominee to be ambassador to Russia was unequivocal Tuesday in calling out the federation’s interference in the 2016 election in the United States. 'There is no question—underline no question—that the Russian government interfered in the U.S. election last year, and Moscow continues to meddle in the democratic processes of our friends and allies,' Jon Huntsman Jr., told the Foreign Relations Committee."

Source:
AT U.N. TRUMP CALLS NUCLEAR DEAL AN “EMBARRASSMENT”
New Iran Policy Coming Next Month?
1 hours ago
THE LATEST
WILL NOW SUBPOENA HIM
Senate Intel Committee Cancels Cohen Meeting
1 hours ago
THE DETAILS
“MASSIVE SOURCE OF EMBARRASSMENT”
Trump Calls Out U.N. Members for Human Rights Violations
2 hours ago
THE LATEST
LEVELS AN IMPLICIT THREAT AT NORTH KOREA
Trump Calls Kim “Rocket Man” at U.N.
2 hours ago
THE LATEST
×
×

Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.

Login