The disclosure of the suspect in last week’s horrific murder of Shuafat teen Muhammad Abu Khdeir represents the darkest hour for the Jewish state since Baruch Goldstein went on a rampage 20 years ago in Hebron, killing 29 Palestinian worshipers and injuring 115 more.
It was so easy to think over the last few days that it couldn’t have been Jews who dragged the 16-year-old Khdeir into their car, drove him to the Jerusalem Forest, set him on fire and despicably murdered him as revenge for the equally brutal deaths of teenagers Gil-Ad Shaer, Naftali Fraenkel, and Eyal Yifrah. Let it be an internal Arab feud or an honor killing.
Even the worst Jewish extremist couldn’t resort to that level of barbarism, we tried to convince ourselves.
After all, we still have our Jewish values.
But the facts leading up to Khdeir’s death were impossible to ignore. At the same time that the three Israeli victims were being eulogized and buried last Wednesday, an angry Jewish mob was marching on Jerusalem’s Jaffa Road shouting “Death to Arabs” and “Revenge” while attempting to storm businesses employing Arab workers and demand their ouster.
Arrests by the police and condemnation by civic and political leaders did little to quell the thirst for Arab blood, however. And a few hours later, the revolting events played out that were revealed by the police Sunday.
It raises questions about who we are and who we are becoming. Granted, Israeli and Palestinian societies reacted so differently to the murders of their countrymen.
Israelis grieved, held rallies, called for unity and struggled with how to make things better. A few thugs amid the vast majority decided to take revenge.
Arab communities, on the other hand, have reacted by widespread rock throwing, dragging Jews out of their cars and setting the vehicles on fire, and violent civil disobedience.
The fact that Arab society still doesn’t know how to express itself without violence is an issue that only the Arabs can deal with, if they so choose to.
The behavior of Jewish citizens of Israel is an issue for all of us. Regardless of the anger, hate and urge for vengeance that we feel when yet another terror attack occurs and Palestinians kill yet another innocent Israeli, there is no room for vigilantes.
It’s time to decide what kind of society we want to be: one where excessive beating of suspects by Border Police is accepted with a roll of the eyes and a “What can you do” shrug, one where Jewish brutes yelling “Death to Arabs” is tolerated and in some circles even encouraged, or one where there is zero tolerance for such behavior. Anti-Arab racism and Jewish terror are now out in the open for everyone to see and can no longer be swept under the rug.
With the events over the last week threatening to unravel into a larger, longterm conflict, and with our leaders unable or unwilling to lead, it’s time for the citizens of Israel to wake up and say “Enough.”
It has been clear for a long time to anyone not blinded by ideology that Jews and Arabs are destined to share this land. As we continue to inflict atrocities upon each other and the differences between the extremists on both sides blur into one ugly stain, it has also become clear why we’re still embroiled in this never-ending struggle: We deserve each other.
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