Concerned humanists may have hoped that when a group of Jewish Israelis confessed to kidnapping and killing Muhammad Abu Khudair, a Palestinian teenager in Jerusalem — forcing him to drink gasoline and torching him to death from inside his body — that top Israeli legislators and rabbis would have been horrified at what their revenge rhetoric had triggered, and seriously scaled back their calls for war.
These hopes would have been in vain. In the days since the lynchers were arrested, the anti-Arab rhetoric has continued to ring at a fever pitch. Even as the Israeli army pummels the Gaza Strip with explosives — more than 1,500 tons have been dropped on Gaza by the time of this writing, killing 193 people and wounding approximately 1,200, the vast majority of them civilians — Israeli political, religious and cultural leaders continue to incite sectarian divisions for political profit.
On the eve of Abu Khudair’s lynching, Member of Knesset (Israel’s parliament) and government faction whip Ayelet Shaked issued a call over Facebook to ethnically cleanse the land, declaring “the entire Palestinian people is the enemy.” She advocated their complete destruction, “including its elderly and its women,” adding that these must be slaughtered, otherwise they might give birth to more “little snakes.”
It would be hard to find a more explicit call for genocide.
Days after the lynch, Shaked tried to cover her tracks, angrily insisting that she had merely quoted another person’s call to genocide, not issued one of her own. Yet a week later, Shaked posted another fiery Facebook message in Hebrew, this time warning her constituents that the Jewish cemetery in Jaffa had been torched, subtly implying that Palestinians had purposefully destroyed the graveyard.
In fact, not even a single headstone was singed — Shaked had used news of a fire next door to weave a wicked blood libel.
One day before the lynch, the head of the largest religious Jewish youth group in the world, Rabbi Noam Perel of Bnei Akiva, openly called on his Facebook page for the killing of at least 300 Palestinians, and for scalping their foreskins and taking them as trophies. As most Palestinians are Muslims who circumcise their male children, Perel may well have been calling to murder and scalp not just Palestinians, but Palestinian babies.
After the lynch, Perel issued an apology, clarifying that the Israeli army should have a monopoly on dispensing violence against Palestinians. He did not express any regret for his call to harvest human skin from the penises of Palestinians. A week later, the youth group’s ruling council met and decided not to remove Perel from his post or censure him in any way, saying: “The consensus was … the vast majority of the countries where Bnei Akiva operates were quite happy with the apology.”
Also just hours before Abu Khdeir was burnt to death, the rich and powerful Jerusalem city councillor in charge of municipal security, Aryeh King, issued a similar barely-veiled call to mutilate and murder Palestinians. Speaking on stage to a large assembly of ultra-Orthodox Jews from the Chabad sect, he said, “I am calling out to all the Pinchases that are here … Moses didn’t act, Pinchas acted … every one of us has a mission … The Rebbe, who is here with us, expects us to commit acts of Pinchas.”
Pinchas in the Torah — called Phineas in the English-language Old Testament — was so incensed by miscegenation that he took a sword and plunged it through both bodies of an interracial (Jewish-Midianite) couple in the middle of their lovemaking. The point of King’s sermon might have been lost on a secular audience, but its coded call to murder and mutilate non-Jews, and the Jews willing to mix with them, was understood loud and clear by the crowd of Torah scholars.
On Saturday night, after nearly a week of Gaza being bombarded, a few hundred Israelis gathered in a public square in downtown Tel Aviv to protest the assault and Israeli control over Palestinian lives. They were met there by a gang of secular Jewish thugs who had answered the call of popular Israeli rapper HaTzel to descend on and attack the rally. Israeli police allowed the thugs to charge the crowd and take out their rage on the demonstrators, smashing chairs over their heads.
It did not surprise anyone to see some of these thugs wearing the insignia of the founding father of Zionist fascism, Rabbi Meir Kahane, and the political movement he founded, Kach. But the adoption of a second set of iconography shocked many observers.
As shown in the video above, some of the HaTzel thugs wore clothes emblazoned with “Good Night Left Side,” iconography that is popular among European neo-Nazi groups.
The Israeli version replaced the Iron Crosses of the original with Jewish Stars of David. This was a call to physically attack leftists opposed to Israel’s attacks on Gaza.
Israeli ultra-nationalists wear clothes emblazoned with “Good Night Left Side,” iconography used by European neo-Nazi groups. (screenshot)
Since the beginning of July, raging crowds of Jewish Israelis just like these have marched through Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Nazareth and Beer Sheva, chanting “Death to Arabs” and “Death to Leftists,” swarming and attacking vulnerable victims. While a tiny contingent of radical Israelis have formed a loose “anti-fascist” network that tries to patrol city streets and prevent additional lynchings, they are extremely few in numbers and cannot be everywhere at all times.
While Israeli leaders unleash conscripted soldiers to bombard Gaza, they dispatch ultra-nationalist vigilantes to conquer cities inside Israel. With the incitement to murder Palestinians (and the few Israeli allies they have) continue unabated, it seems to be only a matter of time before the bubbling bloodlust boils overs into a bloodbath.
Editor’s note: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that “Good Night Left Side” is a European neo-Nazi group, rather than iconography associated with European neo-Nazi groups. It has been corrected.