Condemn the Killing of Ali Dawabsha, but Don’t Ignore the Roots of Hatred

Jewish settlements cutting through the Palestinian village of Mas-Ha, protected by Israeli military and barriers.Jewish settlements cutting through the Palestinian village of Mas-Ha, protected by Israeli military and barriers. (Photo: scottmontreal/Flickr)

I write just days after the horrible murder-by-arson of 18-month-old Ali Dawabsha, killed in the middle of the night by assassins who set his home ablaze as he and his family slept. His family’s crime? Simply existing on their rightful land, a land that Jewish settlers wish to appropriate totally. The very presence of Palestinians on land Israel wishes to annex entirely and permanently is an affront to these settlers.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other Israeli officials have rushed to name the settlers who committed the arson as a radical fringe group. Their condemnation of this act might be taken as a sign of some vestige of morality within the state apparatus of Israel, but for me, these declarations smack of political maneuvering.

To shift our eyes to these extremist acts of terror is to divert our eyes at the same time from the continuous terrorism of the state of Israel toward the Palestinians. The images of expulsion, murder, appropriation of land and destruction of houses that we see before us now are simply the latest instantiations of a history of such acts that began in 1947 and reached a formal expression in the Nakba of 1948. Simply put, what we see today is not the logical outcome of the Nakba, it is the sign of the fact that for all intents and purposes the logic of the Nakba has never ended.

Netanyahu will, perhaps, chase down the murderers, but he will continue to build settlements, thereby maintaining the mentality and the practice of throwing Palestinians out of their homes and destroying their lives. This is the Orwellian contradiction that he asks us to swallow. The legitimacy of the Occupation will certainly never be condemned, only the moments when its brutal logic is inconveniently exposed to the world.

There are signs of deep discontent in Israel. More and more Israeli Jews are coming to see the horrible consequences of the Zionist project not only in terms of such acts of violence, but also by noting how maintaining this posture of aggression and suppression is draining the resources of their state away from social benefits, jobs, education and health. They also note with concern the rising tide of racism and hatred – against Palestinians, against gays, against African asylum seekers – that is part of Jewish supremacist reasoning. Now more than ever we need to form, maintain and strengthen ties of solidarity – with other organizations around the world, with dissident Israelis who bravely show their commitment to Boycott, Divestments and Sanctions (BDS) principles, and of course primarily with the Palestinians.