5 of the Most Appalling Acts of Incitement From Israel This Week: Top Army Rabbi Dances with Author of Notorious 'Murder Manual'
The worst cases of racism to emerge from Israel this week demonstrate how non-Jewish minority groups are maligned and demonized, and how hawkish forces in the country then use this incitement to manufacture consent for meting out harsh treatment against the same groups.
1. Murder-manual author convicted of sedition.
At the end of the week, an Israeli court convicted on charges of sedition the author of a how-to handbook directing Jewish supremacists to murder Palestinians. The book, Kingdom of Evil, details several assassination scenarios, including “setting a house on fire with the residents still inside,” Ha’aretz reports. In July 2015, Jewish supremacists put the book’s specific instructions into practice, torching a home in the West Bank village of Duma and burning to death the Dawabsha family, including their one-year-old baby, Ali.
The Israeli government has filed no charges, however, against the author of another popular publication, which does not explain how Jews should murder non-Jews, but rather why they should. Two months ago, Israel’s High Court of Justice backed the Attorney-General’s decision not to press charges against the authors of The King’s Torah, which uses religious arguments to justify the killing of even non-Jewish babies. The authors, rabbis living in a Jewish-only West Bank settlement, were paid state salaries when they penned the tract.
2. Top army rabbi dances with murder-manual author.
Since the Duma murders, some Orthodox Jewish Israeli leaders have sought to distance themselves from the gruesome massacre and the base racism that inspired it. Evidently, the chief rabbi of the Israeli Defense Forces is not one of those people. At the beginning of the week, a video emerged in which the top IDF religious official Rafi Peretz is clearly seen dancing joyously with Itzik Shapira, one of the authors of The King’s Torah.
In the video, Peretz dances the hora while wearing his military uniform, sans his beret, which can be seen on the head of his dance partner, Shapira. Shapira’s fedora, in turn, is worn by Peretz. The video was filmed at the same Jerusalem hall where two months earlier, dozens of Israeli guests celebrated the Duma murders by dancing the hora while waving a molotov cocktail and repeatedly stabbing a photograph of the fatally burned baby Ali.
The danger hanging over the village of Duma has not passed, according to an article published this week in Mondoweiss. According to Baraa Dawabsha, close kin of the victims, “The settlers have tried more than once to get into the village again after the attack. They even gathered near to here and Nablus, and were chanting in Hebrew, Arabic, and English, screaming at people ‘Dawabsha number two,’ threatening they will do it again.”
3. Calls for extra-judicial killing of knife-wielding teens.
While Jewish Israelis convicted of attacks against Palestinians are often rapidly rehabilitated—and sometimes even welcome in the presence of top government officials—Palestinians who carry out attacks on Jewish Israelis are not extended those privileges. Some are not even granted the right to a legal trial, as Israeli security forces are electing to neutralize them with lethal force with increasing frequency.
Are Palestinians attacking Israeli targets because they are incorrigible anti-Semites, as many zionists claim? Or is Israel’s multi-generational military occupation punctuated by periodic ethnic-cleansings responsible?
Regardless of the reasons for the attacks, Israel is required to subdue all assailants with the minimum amount of force necessary, and bring them before a judge to account for their actions. That legal requirement is not being uniformly followed, however, and even more worryingly, the calls to actively ignore it are increasing in volume.
In recent months, many Israeli political and religious leaders have been especially vocal in their support for the use of lethal force against Palestinian attackers. Not to be outdone by hawkish government officials, Yair Lapid, chair of the centrist opposition party Yesh Atid, said in October, “Whoever takes out a knife or a screwdriver or whatever it may be, the directive needs to be to shoot in order to kill. Not to hesitate, there will be full legal backing.”
This week Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Gadi Eizenkot provoked a public backlash when he dismissed calls to abandon the army’s rules of engagement and give security forces an even freer hand in the field. “Troops can act only if there is threat to life,” Eizenkot said, according to Ha’aretz. “I don’t want a soldier to empty a magazine on a girl with scissors,” he said, referring to an actual incident in which an Israeli officer shot to death a 14-year-old Palestinian girl who had just stabbed two men.
In the wake of these statements, Eizenkot received the support of some government officials but evoked an outcry from others. Most disconcerting, however, was the response of the general populace. A Channel 10 survey conducted in the days that followed found that 47% of respondents disagreed with the army chief’s comments, and that among just Jews, 57% of respondents disagreed. In other words, over half of Israeli Jews believe 14-year-old Palestinian girls wielding sharp objects should be shot to death.
4. Using sexism to manufacture support for segregation.
The discovery of documents this week shed light on how reactionary forces in Israel are working hard to increase racial hatred—and physical separation—between Jews and Arabs.
Attempting to generate Jewish support for increased racial-and-religious segregation on Israeli buses operating in the West Bank, a right-wing group plotted to paint Palestinians as sexual predators. The group, Ad Kan, hoped to provoke Palestinians on public buses into making sexist comments about other riders, while they secretly filmed them. Israeli television Channel 2 later aired footage of the Palestinian riders’ lewd comments, but not the planned provocations that had elicited them.
While rape is common in Israel, the topic is rarely treated with any seriousness by Israeli leaders, unless it can be leveraged to increase racism against an identifiable group of non-Jews. Both Palestinians and African refugees have been targeted with these smear tactics in recent years.
5. University dean compares African refugees to rats.
Last week, IIW looked at how Israeli leaders use “zoomorphic bigotry” —unflattering analogies to non-human animals—to incite hatred of Palestinian people. This week African refugees was the non-Jewish group in Israel to be on the receiving end of such associations.
The Dean of Ben Gurion University of the Negev administered an exam to his engineering students that drew a comparison between the approximately 45,000 non-Jewish African asylum-seekers in the country and rats that must be rounded up and deported for tortures.
The dean’s test tasked students with calculating the construction costs of a Tel Aviv area subway line, and charged the students with removing underground rats, transferring them to a holding station in the south of the country, and shipping them off to Africa, where it was said they would be experimented on by the pharmaceutical industry.
In recent years, the Israeli government has targeted all asylum-seekers from sub-Saharan Africa for expulsion from the country, and has sent thousands of them to a detention center in the south. Israeli officials then attempt to coerce the corralled refugees to self-deport back to Africa. In many cases, refugees who have relented and returned to their countries of origin are known to have since been tortured or murdered.
After one Israeli woman publicly accused BGU Dean Moshe Kaspi of racism, he apologized, explaining that he had “attempted to insert an aspect of humor into the exam.”
This incident was not the first time African refugees have been compared to vermin to be eliminated in Israel. In 2012, Tel Aviv area residents received mysterious envelopes in their mailboxes purporting to propose a “solution” to the “problem” of the presence of the African asylum-seekers in the country. Upon examination, the envelopes contained adverts for insect extermination services.