I confess I do tune out the Israeli-Palestinian conflict for long stretches of time. This is possibly because I generally don’t favor one side over the other, and partly because I don’t know if we’re getting straight information about any of it, and partly because I feel powerless to do anything about whatever it is. In this I suspect I’m in the same boat with a lot of other people.
Now we read that a 15-year-old U.S. citizen and ethnic Palestinian from Tampa was brutalized by Israeli defense forces and jailed while in Jerusalem to attend a cousin’s funeral. The U.S. State Department has sent Israel a sternly worded memo.
The cousin, also a teenager, had been beaten and burned alive, an autopsy revealed. Palestinians blame Israelis for the murder of 16-year-old Mohammed Abu Khedair, saying the murder was retaliation for the abduction and murder of three Israeli teens. According to a pro-Israeli website I stumbled into this morning, Khedair was killed by his family when they found out he was gay. Police have arrested several Israeli suspects, however, and I doubt Israeli police would do that if there were a credible possibility the perpetrators were Palestinian.
There are videos showing the American teen, Tariq Khdeir, being kicked and punched by the security forces as he lay passively on the ground, and then his unconscious body was hauled away to jail. They clearly did a number on his face. He has since been released on bail.
Tariq Khdeir may or may not have been taking part in a protest. He may or may not have been carrying a slingshot. (A slingshot? Seriously?) All we know is that he got the stuffing beat out of him, and the beating continued as he offered no resistance.
Israel has enjoyed a seemingly bottomless reservoir of good will from the United States, even though IMO the relationship between the two countries has benefited Israel a whole lot more than it has benefited the United States. What was done to Tariq Khdeir will be excused by the Israel First crowd on the American Right, especially since they would never consider someone named Tariq Khdeir to be a “real American.”
But I think there is a point at which that reservoir could dry up among the majority of Americans, and unless Israel has some pretty heavy-duty evidence against Tariq Khdeir it would be to Israel’s own best interests to drop charges and issue an apology.