Israel Hands Out Two Grossly Unequal Forms of Justice for Jewish and Palestinian Victims

An Israeli extremist faces 11 years in prison for stabbing a Jew, while attacks on Arabs go virtually unpunished.

Photo Credit: Ahmad Tibi / Twitter

An Israeli religious extremist who stabbed another Jewish man he believed to be Arab in a failed terror attack was sentenced to 11 years in prison by an Israeli court on Monday. The sentence poses a stark contrast to past verdicts in which Israeli extremists' attacks on Palestinian civilians have gone virtually unpunished.

Shlomo Haim Pinto, the attacker, told the court that he was "being controlled by an inner voice and that he felt that he was performing a mitzvah," or good deed, the Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported.

Pinto explicitly said his attack was religiously and politically motivated. Haaretz explained the extremist "believed that by attacking an Arab he would weaken 'Ishmael's emissary.' If he weakened the spiritual influence of Ishmael's nation, he said, 'there would be greater mercy for the Jewish people and he would advance the redemption,' according to the court's ruling."

In October 2015, Pinto made plans to carry out a terror attack on any Arab civilian he could find. According to the court indictment, Pinto chose a supermarket where Palestinians worked in the Israeli city of Kiryat Ata, and entered the store with a knife and box cutter hidden in his clothes. The extremist approached an employee he thought was Arab and stabbed him several times, in the waist, the lower back and the shoulder. The victim, Uri Razkan, tried to flee, but Pinto chased him, aiming to kill him.

Razkan recalled the incident to Israel's Army Radio in October: "I heard a shout, 'You deserve it, you deserve it, Arab bastards!' When I turn around, I see a Haredi man. I shouted to him, 'I'm a Jew,' but he tried to continue. I just ran away; otherwise I would have been killed."

Pinto was convicted of attempted murder in December. Razkan was hospitalized and recovered from the attack.

Rampant Anti-Arab Violence in Israel

This 11-year sentence came days after an Israeli soldier was sentenced to just 18 months for shooting and killing an incapacitated Palestinian who was lying injured on the ground. The murder, which was captured on camera and widely circulated, led to massive protests by Israeli fascists who held signs of support reading, "Kill them all."

Racism is extreme in Israel, and anti-Arab violence has become a regular occurrence. Just days before this latest stabbing, an Israeli teenager had rampaged through the city of Dimona, wounding four Arab men, the Times of Israel reported in 2015. That same week, an Israeli mob beat an innocent Arab man, and another two Israelis were arrested for planning to stab a Palestinian, the Times of Israel noted.

In the Palestinian West Bank, which has been under illegal Israeli occupation since 1967, extremist Israeli settlers carry out hundreds of hate crimes and "price tag" attacks on Palestinians and their property every single year. Very few are punished.

'Death to Arabs' Protests

A recent study found that an Israeli published a racist comment or incitement to violence against Palestinians on Facebook and other social networks every 46 seconds on average in 2016. This was a large increase from the year before. More than 100,000 posts called for the killing or death of Palestinians. Haneen Zoabi, a prominent member of Israel's parliament, the Knesset, was the most popular target for violent and racist posts.

Very few Israelis have been arrested for anti-Arab incitement or threats on social media. On the other hand, hundreds of Palestinians have been arrested for social media posts. Facebook is working with the Israeli government to decide what should be censored from the website.

Far-right Israelis regularly hold demonstrations in major cities in which they chant "Death to Arabs." These rallies often lead to anti-Palestinian violence.

Current Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman has publicly called for disloyal Palestinian citizens of Israel to be beheaded.

Anti-African refugee racism and violence are also prevalent throughout Israel. A 2012 study by the Israel Democracy Institute found that 52 percent of Jewish Israelis agree with lawmaker (now culture minister) Miri Regev that African asylum-seekers are "a cancer in the body" of the nation. More than one-third openly supported anti-migrant violence.

Ben Norton is a reporter for AlterNet's Grayzone Project. You can follow him on Twitter at @BenjaminNorton.

 

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