Some Israelis react with joy to deaths of Palestinian kids in bus crash, others revolted by racism

Today there was horrifying news that at least 8 Palestinian children were killed when the bus that was carrying them crashed into a truck.

The popular Israeli news website Walla posted the news on its Facebook page. Within moments, Israelis started posting comments expressing joy at the news.

Hours later, many of the racist comments had been deleted by the Walla editors, and many other Israelis, and Palestinian citizens of Israel expressed their deep revulsion at the racism.

Early screen capture shows vile comments

Abir Kopty posted a screen capture on her blog showing a few of the early comments, which she translated:

Benny: Calm down, they are Palestinian Children.

Tali: Its seems like they are Palestinian children.. Thank God..

Tal: Thank God they are Palestinians

Ajala: Great less terrorists!!!!

Eliya: Only Palestinian children were injured about ten.

Itai: Thank God its Palestinians, let it be such bus every day.

Aleyah: calm down, Its a bus with Palestinian children, lets pray there will be deaths, or at least severe injuries, this is great news to start the day with.

Kopty commented, “Please note the likes on each one of the racist and hateful comments. And no one tells me this is exception and not the Israeli mainstream.”

Even more racism, and strong reactions to it

By the time I went to the Walla Facebook page and took a screen capture, there were over 150 comments and many, but not all, of the most racist ones had already been deleted. There were also many Israeli Jews and Palestinian citizens of Israel expressing deep revulsion at the extent of the racism that was expressed.

Although the racist comments were being deleted quickly, the evidence of them can be seen in the reactions that were not. After more than 200 comments had been posted, the editors of the Walla page posted this warning:

Friends, Stop writing racist and irrelevant responses. Users who write racist responses to the post will be blocked from the page.

Here is a sample of comments taken from the screen capture below, which I translated from Hebrew. They represent both racist comments and typical reactions. The comments are not necessarily all in immediate sequence, they are just ones that struck me as worth translating.

Liza Aliza Ben Sheetrit: God have mercy.

Anna Kagna-kitty: No difference if they are Arabs or Jews, they are children.

Tamara Melita Samson: It really makes no difference what their religion is, they are children. Do not unto your neighbor what is hateful unto you… May God have mercy.

Gilad Kapl: We’re already starting to see the cholera of the racists. I hope the children come out safely.

Karina Pritiko: You can’t believe how much racism there is in this country. This just stinks.

Shero Zinaty: Shame on those who were delighted with this news!

Shalom Dror: Racism? What are you taking about! You are in a war!

Mohamad Khalailh: My heart is broken twice, once for the children, and once for the responses.

Daniel Tsionov: Fuck all Arabs!

Meir Mutzmajer: Future terrorists! [referring to the dead children]

Keren Azrad Hamisha: All the wise people who are happy that Palestinians were injured, shame on you. You make me sick. I’m also relieved that they’re not Jews, just as I am relieved when there is a disaster in the world and its reported no Israelis were injured. But here there was just joy that they [Palestinians] were hurt??? Can you hear yourselves? How are you any better than the terrorists who talk this way about us???

Hod Gabriel [apparently addressing the page editors]: Wow, any chance you deleted comments? There were lots of racist comments here that do not appear anymore.

Israeli hasbara official springs into action

Before I wrote this post, I tweeted the screen capture Abir Kopty had posted. Jewish Agency hasbara official Avi Mayer sprung into action, attacking me for doing so. Instead of expressing horror at the racism, he saw it as an opportunity for an ad hominem attack on me and my “cronies.”

Here were my earlier tweets to which he was presumably reacting, so you can judge for yourself:

Israel military seizes propaganda opportunity

Missing no opportunity to present themselves as saviors of Palestinian children, Israel’s military propaganda officials also tried to capitalize on the crash. Israeli military spokesperson Avital Leibovich notorious for her denials and justifications of atrocities committed against civilians in Gaza during “Operation Cast Lead” was chief among them:

Palestinian officials contest Israeli claims of help

Meanwhile, Palestinian officials painted a different picture, suggesting that Israel had impeded rescue. Abir Kopty attended a press conference in Ramallah:

Screen capture of Facebook comments

2012-2-15 Walla Facebook Wall

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Comments

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It is tragic that so much indiscriminate hate exists in a people.

Time to end aid from the United States.

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It reminds me of the countless hate posts in the US on how Japan "deserved it" when the earthquake and tsunami hit. Hate exists everywhere, regardless of nationality.

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Racism is alive and well everywhere. it knows no specific ethnicity or religion. It is sad that a nation that has so suffered from racism directed against her....should be such a proponent of racism and hatred toward others, especially children. May G*d have mercy on us all!

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A few idiotic comments made by ignorant people does not make the entire Israeli society racist. The accident that occurred today is horrific, no matter who was injured. You can see regular Israeli's expressing their reservation from these idiotic comments, and expressing their condolences:

https://fbcdn-sphotos-a.akamai...

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Taking pleasure in the deaths of innocent school children in a road accident graphically illustrates the racist nature of the Zionist ideology.

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@ Omri - learn to count, it weren´t a few, there are (better said were, cause they were deleted) HUNDREDS of those perverted comments.

And I think, if you add these reactions to the demonstrations held by Israeli Jews against Blacks and other non-white people and if you consider how some Rabbis and also AIPAC members talk about the higher worth of jewish life compared to non-jewish life (all available on utube), then it draws obviously not only the picture but also the reality of an Israeli society that has become badly racist. (And we didn´t even mention the increasingly repressive and humilating ways, that women are treated in the Israeli society, which is not racist but sexist behaviour)
Playing down those things is really dangerous. But this is done since decades in Israel. It is apparent that the permanent playing down of serious society issues is harming Israels domestic situation. The consequences are arising already. And Israel will pay a high price (social, economic and concerning peace). Especially because Isreal made sure to be isolated from and hated by the surrounding regions and peoples.
Man, I wish so much for peace in Palestine and Israel... :(

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There weren't hundreds of them, less than a hundred for sure.
It should also be noted that the original image was photoshopped to group together all the racist comments (according to it's original poster), so while it may seem that all first 10 comments were racists - they were actually collected from over a hundred comments posted at this point.
The poster had no idea this photo will spread out so far, and used for propagating undeserved hate, or he would've made that clear in the first place.

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Maybe there are some dumb israelies but the first ambulance at the scene was ours. If you want an evidence of palestines celebrating at our horrors just search google for celebration in gaza after Rabins murder.

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I wonder if you also reported the joy in Palestinian society after the murder of the Vogel family? Extremist elements exist in both societies and need to be contained. To only report about Israeli racism, while ignoring the daily hatred that is preached to and articulated by Palestinians is one-sided.

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As an Israeli, I am deeply ashamed by the racist and hateful comments made by some Israelis.
To your knowledge, this is not a new phenomenon. If you care to follow comments made by racist Israelis on similar issues over Facebook or any of the Israeli news outlets, you will find similar remarks. The only difference this time, is the contrast between the terrible news and the racist remarks is more evident then usual.
As a matter of fact, even Jewish-Israelis who are part of the peace movement ("smolanim") are prone to the same remarks. We have been labeled as traitors or "the enemy", we are told to "go back to Europe" or to "leave to Gaza", and our deaths and demise seem to be the very explicit wishes of the same racist Israelis.
I am not sure I can make a profound conclusion from this terrible situation, however, I must admit that we (peaceful Israelis) are today closer at heart to any peaceful Palestinian rather than to our very own racist brothers and sisters. I only wish we could have done more in order to make a change, but in fact, we are not the majority.

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I respect you. And just like the people above said, there is racism on both sides; I wish people would stop being so ignorant and realize that no one is winning from this conflict.

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this is insane, comment here:
"...Maybe there are some dumb israelies but the first ambulance at the scene was ours..."
Oh lordy, this sponsored ambulance (are n't all the magen david adom ambu's sponsored by AFoMDA? see here: http://www.jewishbroward.org/I...)

Is this tiny little extreme washed up country really existing here on our planet? Dear Ali Abunimah, why can't people be only sad when an accident like this happens in their backyard?

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There is a lot of hatred from both sides. This hatred has its reasons.
Take a moment and think, Israelis and Palestinians. Those people who want to live side by side peacefully has to come together and establish a Palestinian- Israeli community and EDUCATE people from both sides. Stand up , End the hate.
I really felt bad when Palestinians where celebrating 9/11 in Gaza. " An illiterate person is an enemy of himself" that's what we say in Arabic. I think , Israelis and Palestinians have to build some kind of an ( Israeli - Palestinian Village , in the West - Bank, and life together as an example. Trust me this hate from both sides its not going to go away easy.

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I am an Israeli-American who was deeply saddened by the news of the deaths of the children yesterday. Speaking as a mother, it really doesn't matter whether the children were Palestinians, Israelis or some other nationality; children are children. And not just children - I was also sad to hear that their teacher died in the accident. I personally did not hear any racist statements from anyone I know here in Tel Aviv - everyone I know was horrified. I don't know the people who wrote those racist remarks, which shocked and revolted me greatly. However, every nation has its racists and extremists, including unfortunately some Palestinians who rejoice when terrorists kill Israeli children. Yet I know there are Israelis and Palestinians who just want peace. Saying that all members of a certain nation are racist (as I see in some of the above comments) is in itself racist. I condemn in the harshest terms any expression of racism or gloating over such a terrible tragedy. Please note that Israel's prime minister and president both expressed sorrow over the children's deaths, and some of the injured children are being treated in Israeli hospitals. I heard that Israeli and Palestinian rescue workers cooperated to rescue and give first aid to the children. I am praying for a full and speedy recovery for the injured children and offer my heartfelt condolences to the families of those who lost their lives. And finally, I wish Israelis and Palestinians, and all of us in the Middle East, true peace with independence, security, prosperity and dignity for all. Shabat SHALOM <3

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my wife and I feel that we must codemn those isralies that expressed their joy regarding the death of the Arab children. we would like to express our deep sorrow and support the families that lost their most preciouse relatives

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What is needed now, as an investigative task, in fairness to all, is a thorough analysis of which pages each and every Israeli who made racist comments follow/like, what network of friends such persons have, - did their friends on social media also post racist commentary of this or other events and so on. Through this methodical research we will be able in a microcosmic sense at least, reach an objective conclusion - using the bus comments as a valuable opportunistic catalyst - just how widespread the extent of the Israeli right wing is as evidenced in social media today as a sampling tool.

Ali Abunimah

Ali Abunimah's picture

Co-founder of The Electronic Intifada and author of The Battle for Justice in Palestine, now out from Haymarket Books.

Also wrote One Country: A Bold-Proposal to End the Israeli-Palestinian Impasse. Opinions are mine alone.