A relative of 18-month-old Palestinian baby Ali Dawabsheh, who was killed after his family's house was set on fire in a suspected attack by Jewish extremists, mourns over his body during his funeral in Duma.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The Zionist Organization of America on Tuesday condemned what it called the “rush to blame Jews” for last week’s arson attack in the village of Duma, which killed Palestinian toddler Ali Dawabsha.
In a letter mailed to supporters, ZOA president Morton Klein called for a full investigation into the attack and the prosecution of the perpetrator “to the full extent of the law,” but cautioned against what he sees as jumping to conclusions.
Israeli defense and law enforcement authorities have indicated that they believe the attack was carried out by Jewish terrorists.
Hebrew graffiti calling for revenge was found at the site of the attack and the government has initiated a clampdown on far-right- wing extremists, promising to use controversial tools such as administrative detention to suppress Jewish terrorism.
Terror attack in Duma
Among those arrested was Meir Ettinger, the grandson of assassinated banned ultra-nationalist Rabbi Meir Kahane.
The arson attack, occurring one day after an ultra-Orthodox man stabbed six people at a gay pride parade in Jerusalem, killing 16-year-old Shira Banki, has shaken Israelis and engendered furious debate, with many blaming the violence on the Israeli Right.
“When you call the gay pride parade an abomination, you are inciting to murder,” Meretz MK Michal Rozin wrote on Facebook after Bayit Yehudi MK Bezalel Smotrich stated that he opposes both same-sex unions and violence against LGBT people.
In response, right-wing politicians like Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan called such accusations hypocritical.
“To say this isn’t a minority, to try to hunt down the opposing political camp, is not what will bring a change. I heard statements here that simply ignore reality,” he said during a Knesset debate.
"Like many on the Israeli Right, Klein cast doubt on claims that the national camp was responsible for the attack, but he also went further, recalling several instances of violence that had initially been blamed on Jews and which later were found to have been perpetrated by Arabs."
"Evidence however, raises strong suspicions that the fire last week was the continuation of an 18-year-old feud between two Arab clans in Duma," Klein wrote in his statement.
“It is inappropriate to rush to cast blame on Jews for the fire at an Arab home in Duma in last week in view of the minimal, contradictory, and questionable evidence reported thus far – and in view of the numerous instances in which Arabs have fabricated attacks or blamed Jews for Arab violence against other Arabs,” Klein said.
“A full investigation should be done to determine responsibility. And of course, whoever is responsible for this attack – whether Jew or Arab – should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.”
However, he added, the available evidence “raises strong suspicions that the fire last week was the continuation of an 18-year-old feud between two Arab clans in Duma.”
Referring to a report from Arutz Sheva, Klein pointed to the text of the graffiti, which he said showed evidence of being written by a native Arabic speaker.
Dawabsha’s house was in the middle of Duma and it would have been “extremely difficult for Israeli Jews to reach and then to depart from the center of a hostile Arab village without being detected,” Klein further asserted.
Comparing Palestinians to the Nazis who staged a Polish attack on a German radio station as a pretext for starting the Second World War, Klein said that “Palestinian Arab terrorists have repeatedly borrowed from this Nazi playbook, staging and fabricating incidents to blame on (non-existent) Jewish ‘extremists’ and Israel,” adding that an Arab in Lod had recently blamed a beating he had received on Jews before it was revealed that his attackers were also Arabs.
“If it turns out that Jewish individuals were responsible, those individuals should be arrested, prosecuted, and punished to the full extent of the law. However, if this incident turns out to be another “blame the Jews” Arab hoax, the facts should be broadcast with the same fanfare that blame was precipitously cast on Israeli Jews.”
Lahav Harkov contributed to this report.
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