Some Things Can’t Be Ignored

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Middle East

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.

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35 Comments

35 Comments

  1. Bill Bush  •  Jul 6, 2014 @11:48 am

    Among the “raise your hands and holler for Jesus” crowd, there is a lot of support for Israel, evidently because they think Jesus was born there and so must have a strong attachment to his homeland.

  2. c u n d gulag  •  Jul 6, 2014 @11:56 am

    “The U.S. State Department has sent Israel a sternly worded memo.”

    Oh, well, good then – it’s all settled!

    Bibi would feel right at home in America, what with our religious nuts, and neocons.

    Sure, our religious nuts are “Christian” -but I bet they know the Old Testament better than most Jews, when you consider they don’t seem to know a lick about the New one.

  3. Lynne  •  Jul 6, 2014 @12:27 pm

    I don’t think this has a really strong religious component. It is political. And most Israelis are not very religious.

  4. Carolyn Skye  •  Jul 6, 2014 @12:47 pm

    I have been following the Israeli/Palestinian problem for years. The problems are handed down from father to son..old thinking patterns and prejudices …. nothing new. They both worship the same god, the god who believed in mass blame, mass punishment…original sin! Many Right Wing Christians see the violence as just proof of “the Prophecy.” They welcome it because they are so sure that when the Rapture comes, they will be swooped up into heaven. That same group encouraged Dubya Bush to invade Iraq…ya know, another step closer to the Rapture! But as far and Israel and Palestine right now, it is about land and power…and water. If you destroy a man’s fig nd olive groves, do not expect him to be happy! The Palestinians have been cursed with leaders who haven’t one original idea in their heads, the Israelis with leaders who are greedy and think they have the blessings of their god and the powerful USA. They do have it half right..from the Right!

  5. john  •  Jul 6, 2014 @2:00 pm

    What does Rand Paul have to say about this? He has pretty much pledged his blind alligence to Israel, saying any attack on Israel is an attack on the US, and he has made due process rights for American muslims overseas his signature agenda…..

  6. Stephen Stralka  •  Jul 6, 2014 @4:19 pm

    It’s not just good will that’s at stake, it’s $3 billion a year. I personally would prefer that we don’t give them another dime until they at least stop building settlements on Palestinian land. They’ve used up my good will, I can tell you that.

  7. erinyes  •  Jul 6, 2014 @5:29 pm

    My opinion on this subject is well known to mahablog regulars. Israel has a firm lock on our politicians. I came across a short story on line several years about the last living Palestinian passing away in an Israeli zoo. It can be found if you do a Google image search. Sadly, I think the author hit the mark.
    A map of settlement growth in Israel over the past 40 years is shocking. Nothing will change. Israel is America’s money pit. End of story.

  8. Swami  •  Jul 6, 2014 @10:33 pm

    “The U.S. State Department has sent Israel a sternly worded memo.”

    Oh, well, good then – it’s all settled!

    Yep, Gulag.. There’s no point in wasting words.. Sometimes you’re like the Alpha and the Omega.. You know the end from the beginning.

  9. Paraquat  •  Jul 6, 2014 @10:37 pm

    Not making excuses for Israel, and not really trying to change the topic, but I think it’s worth a moment to take a look at what’s happening just across the border from Israel…

    http://en.alalam.ir/news/1602503

    http://mawtani.al-shorfa.com/en_GB/articles/iii/features/2014/07/03/feature-01

    Not suggesting that one country’s barbarity excuses another’s. Just keep in mind that the whole region is being racked with violence, and if you’re looking for one particular “bad guy” to blame it all on, you may find that you’re not seeing the forest from the trees. A lot of people have blood on their hands, and some of the finger-pointing reminds me of the old saying about the pot calling the kettle “black.”

  10. maha  •  Jul 6, 2014 @10:50 pm

    Paraquat–I don’t think anyone here sees one particular “bad guy.” I just think a lot of Americans are kidding themseles if they think Israel is the “good guy.”

  11. Gator90  •  Jul 7, 2014 @1:11 am

    My children, still very young, attend a wonderful synagogue-run school, where they are being gently, lovingly brainwashed about the inherent goodness of Israel. How and when do I teach them what a Palestinian is?

  12. Bob  •  Jul 7, 2014 @8:27 am

    Gator, teach them the truth…

  13. joanr16  •  Jul 7, 2014 @10:40 am

    “An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.”

    Not sure if Gandhi really said that, but it deserves saying.

  14. buckyblue  •  Jul 7, 2014 @11:24 am

    My goodwill for Israel was gone a long time ago. Native Americans have a much better historical argument to come into our houses and kick us out and make us live on reservations, than the Israelis had on taking back Palestine. My brother, who at the time was a conservative RW Christian type, went there a few years ago and was appalled at what was happening to the Palestinians. He called it apartheid, and I think that’s pretty right. But what are you going to do when Bibi, who is a graduate of the Dick Cheney School of Governance and Foreign Relations, is running things.

  15. Swami  •  Jul 7, 2014 @12:05 pm

    Gator90 ….Your children might be better served if you taught them about the inherent goodness people. Drop the stereotyping and tribal divisions that lump all in a particular ethnic group as being either good or bad.
    I see by your comment that you still don’t get it. No one is saying that Jews or Israelis are evil or bad.. The push back you are perceiving is about blind tribal/ religious allegiances rooted in scripture that prevent people from seeing there own biases and thereby distorting their sense of right, wrong, and justice.
    Celebrate the fact that you are a Jew.. but don’t confuse the modern State of Israel with Judaism.

  16. Gator90  •  Jul 7, 2014 @1:01 pm

    Perhaps I will never “get it,” Swami. (I am, after all, the second stupidest commenter here.) But I will keep trying.

  17. Zam  •  Jul 7, 2014 @1:39 pm

    Bucky- As a Native myself, my family has often been pretty supportive of the Palestinians in this issue due largely to the fact that Israeli settlements tend to remind us of what happened to us here, with white settlers taking more and more of our land in the name of God. Not that the Palestinians are all inherently good in their methods, or that the Israelis are bad, but it just feels like some old school European colonialism.

  18. Swami  •  Jul 7, 2014 @1:43 pm

    Gator90…Thanks for conceding the stupidest commenter title.. I work hard on my stupidity. :)

  19. c u n d gulag  •  Jul 7, 2014 @2:08 pm

    Swami,
    I thought he was talking about me!

  20. Gator90  •  Jul 7, 2014 @2:20 pm

    Gulag – no, Swami designated me the second stupidest, while graciously claiming the title of stupidest for himself. I defer to his authority in this matter.

  21. Swami  •  Jul 7, 2014 @2:50 pm

    Come on guys.. There’s enough stupidly to go around.

    Gulag, On second thought you might be right. Rather presumptuous of me to claim that title without considering all the contenders to it.

    It reminds me of an episode I witnessed in fourth grade.. We were about to receive our report cards and the teacher announced that only one person in the class got all A’s. One girl, Susie Parker, just stood up to receive her praise based on her own opinion of herself when the teacher had to tell her that she wasn’t the one who got all A’s. Susie started crying.. although I was never sure whether she was crying because she made an ass of herself or whether it was because she didn’t get all A’s.

  22. goatherd  •  Jul 7, 2014 @5:21 pm

    I used to read this man’s articles and I always found them worth the time. I am afraid I inherited my ancestors emotionality rather than the East European sharpness of mind or wit. At their roots the jews and arabs share a lot of history and place. They might have worked things out better if they had not become the chessmen of a larger game, maybe not. Receiving such a wealth of military aid from the US certainly seems like a mixed blessing.

    I better shut up before everyone realizes who is really the stupidest commenter.

    Anyway, for what it’s worth:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uri_Avnery

  23. Stephen Stralka  •  Jul 7, 2014 @6:21 pm

    How and when do I teach them what a Palestinian is?

    Are you familiar with the hard-core Zionists’ version of the story? They’ll tell you the Palestinians are a bunch of parasites who suddenly showed up after the first Zionist settlers made the desert bloom. We are to understand that Palestine/Israel, this land that people had been fighting over throughout recorded history, was just sitting there vacant when the Zionists decided to build the Jewish state there. “A land without a people for a people without a land,” they said. Awfully convenient, that.

    I hope that isn’t what you’re teaching your children.

  24. Doug  •  Jul 7, 2014 @6:29 pm

    I’m the stupidest commenter here. Gator 90 was clearly talking about me. Just ask Maha. Change of subject…Swami touched on something when he said,

    “No one is saying that Jews or Israelis are evil or bad.. The push back you are perceiving is about blind tribal/ religious allegiances rooted in scripture that prevent people from seeing there own biases and thereby distorting their sense of right, wrong, and justice.”

    I can’t express how disgusted I am by the murder of teens, on either side. IMO, all the murders were the actions of radical individuals. Hamas knows the negative PR of kidnapping and killing kids works against all their goals. They weren’t ‘behind’ the murder of the three Israeli kids, though it was some radical individuals who thought they were advancing the Palestinian cause. Again, IMO, if Hamas finds out who did it, they won’t do anything.

    On the other side, it looks like somebody on the Israeli side beat and burned a Palestinian kid in retaliation. Israel is big on retaliation, but this isn’t how the government does it – this was the work of some radicalized individuals working alone. Nobody will ever be prosecuted for the crime – even though the government disapproves.

    And so it will continue – the murder of kids – and neither side will see that rejecting that kind of violence by both sides – proven by arrest and prosecution and conviction of the radicals is the first step out of the nightmare, by recognizing a mutual (Palestinian and Israeli) moral code that rises above the tribalism. Which is where Swami was his comment.

  25. Kyle  •  Jul 7, 2014 @6:51 pm

    “The U.S. State Department has sent Israel a sternly worded memo.”

    Israel: “Yeah, yeah, bite me. And hurry up with this month’s welfare check.”

  26. Gator90  •  Jul 7, 2014 @6:51 pm

    Stephen Stralka… I am well familiar with the hardcore Zionist version. I used to believe it. I would have hoped that my reference to my kids being “brainwashed” about Israel’s inherent goodness was a clear indicator that I no longer do.

    I’m not teaching them anything about I/P yet. They’re far too young to grasp the Nakba and everything that has followed. I do feel obligated to, at some point when they are older, make sure they understand that the country they celebrate in school has wrought great injustices upon many people. But it’s hard, because that country is, in an odd way, home, even thought I’ve never been there.

  27. Gator90  •  Jul 7, 2014 @7:06 pm

    Doug – it appears from the news that 3 of the suspects in the murder of the Palestinian youth have already confessed to the crime. I certainly hope that some semblance of justice will be done.

  28. Stephen Stralka  •  Jul 7, 2014 @7:07 pm

    Gator, thanks for the explanation. And no, I didn’t think you were going to teach your children that. It was more my purpose to sort of stake out what I take the be the extreme position. Obviously you know more about it than I do.

  29. erinyes  •  Jul 7, 2014 @7:35 pm

    The moral of the story is if some people land on your shores and tell you it is theirs because god said so, kill them. Kill them all as fast as you can.

  30. Doug  •  Jul 7, 2014 @7:57 pm

    Gator90 – Thanks for the info. Are the suspects in the custody of the Israeli authorities or the Palestinians? Who did they confess to? Like you, I want justice but I want real justice, not scapegoats. In an ideal universe, from both sides would execute their own scoundrels. Palestinians hang their own culprits and Israelis hang theirs. Then meet and agree – this is off limits.

  31. Dan  •  Jul 7, 2014 @9:22 pm

    Few people realize that the Biblical legalism “An eye for an eye” was a RESTRICTION and LIMITATION on the retaliatory practices common in the region.

  32. joanr16  •  Jul 8, 2014 @10:37 am

    Dan – it ain’t workin’.

  33. PurpleGirl  •  Jul 8, 2014 @3:58 pm

    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?)

    Yes, a slingshot. Remember these are two groups of people who share some ancient writings in which there is a story about a young boy overcoming a giant with a slingshot. Slingshots are powerful weapons in the right hands and hold a great amount symbolism for these tribes.

  34. Sondra  •  Jul 14, 2014 @7:05 am

    I haven’t search out the story to which you refer, but

    http://www.juancole.com/

    is a very good site to get real information on Israel.

  35. Sondra  •  Jul 14, 2014 @7:14 am

    I found this on the original story. I hope it’s not too lo

    Netanyahu’s Bad Faith: From Gag orders to War as Bread and Circuses

    By contributors|Jul. 14, 2014|

    By Carlyn Meyer

    In a stunning revelation published by the Jewish daily news magazine, Forward, JJ Goldberg uncovers an almost pathological new low for PM Netanyahu’s deceptive ‘bait and switch’ style of political warfare. Goldberg reports that Israeli intelligence concluded the three Israeli Yeshiva students killed by Palestinian gunmen were slain within hours of being kidnapped. Yet, Netanyahu issued a gag order that prevented government officials and journalists who were privy to the knees from reporting it.

    Goldberg writes:

    “The initial evidence was the recording of victim Gil-ad Shaer’s desperate cellphone call to Moked 100, Israel’s 911. When the tape reached the security services the next morning — neglected for hours by Moked 100 staff — the teen was heard whispering “They’ve kidnapped me” (“hatfu oti”) followed by shouts of “Heads down,” then gunfire, two groans, more shots, then singing in Arabic. That evening searchers found the kidnappers’ abandoned, torched Hyundai, with eight bullet holes and the boys’ DNA. There was no doubt.”

    In addition, Netanyahu and others in the Israeli government knew from the beginning that the killings were carried out by a rogue Hamas-affiliated group from Hebron and was not ordered by Hamas leadership. The perpetrators eventually arrested were widely known to have taken other actions on their own in order to embarrass or discredit Hamas.

    The entire narrative that Netanyahu has spun since this tragic kidnapping was first uncovered is false. Not only did the PM unconditionally charge Hamas for the kidnappings, he also set in motion weeks of house-to-house searches, deportations and over 800 arrests of Palestinians, all under the pretense of looking for the killers and the fake assumption that the three teenagers were still alive.

    When non-Hamas militants launched rockets into southern Israel in response to the raids and arrests, Israel bore down harder, eventually bombing Gaza, drawing Hamas into the conflict and launching “Operation Edge”.

    Pundits in both the US and Israel are fond of claiming that neither Hamas nor Israel will benefit from the current fighting, especially if Israel launches a ground war. In truth, hundreds of Palestinians have been killed or injured in service to the narrow political interests of a Prime Minister skilled at covering up his own weak leadership through dramatic displays of political and military pyrotechnics.

    Netanyahu abdicated his responsibility to defuse an explosive situation. He could have done so by identifying key suspects and declaring, hard as that would be, that the three boys were murdered soon after being kidnapped. Instead of carrying out an investigation of killings by pathological extremists, Netanyahu treated the kidnapping as an act of war. Palestinian civilians are paying the price.

    Carlyn Meyer, former editor of the blog Read Between the Lines writes on politics from her home in Chicago.

    http://www.juancole.com/2014/07/netanyahus-orders-circuses.html



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