If you’ve followed today’s developments with the naming of two suspects in the kidnapping of three Israeli teenagers in the West Bank, you must be very careful to understand what’s being conveyed. You’re told, as in misleading headlines like this (“Shin Bet names two Hamas militants as West Bank kidnappers“), the Shin Bet has named the perpetrators of the kidnapping. But if you read the fine print, it hasn’t.
The two suspects named have not been directly associated with the crime in any way. They merely disappeared the same day as the kidnapping. So the Shin Bet is putting various clues together (it’s arrested many of their relatives and questioned them mercilessly, including a pregnant wife) and from this deduces that they committed the crime. But as in many similar incidents involving Israeli intelligence, you have to take a step back and compare what you’re told with the evidence that’s actually been offered.
It’s very possible that these two Palestinians, who have a history of involvement with Hamas’ military wing, are involved in the kidnapping. It’s possible they had no involvement. You won’t read any of this skepticism in the Israeli media, not even in the vaunted liberal bastion, Haaretz. It’s a shameful breach of journalistic standards to become a mouthpiece for the intelligence services. But that’s how it is in the national security state.
At most, you will only read a line or two about what may’ve motivated them to commit such a crime (if they did): fathers in prison, brothers murdered by the IDF. But this is soft-pedaled because no Israeli reader wants to know about a Palestinian’s personal history, especially not one “guilty” of unspeakable crimes against Israeli children. There is one thing of which you may be certain: when and if they are found, they will be summarily executed. Of course, it won’t be presented to the media that way. The IDF never puts a bullet in a Palestinian from point blank range. It’s always: ‘the terrorist fired at soldiers who returned fire and killed him;’ or when told to surrender he fired a fussilade of bullets, which the IDF responded to, killing him.’ Palestinian militants always, according to Israeli news accounts, go out with guns blazing like Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. The reality is more like they are hunted down like rabid dogs and “put to sleep” by their IDF executioners.
The pro-Israelists among us may attempt to argue that I’m romanticizing the crime: not at all. It’s just that I have a quaint notion that if you purport to be a civilized society, when confronted by criminality you don’t become criminals yourself. Instead, you show criminals that a democratic society has ways to deal with breaches of norms. Ways to hold those who commit crimes accountable for their acts. Drilling a bullet into the head of a caged animal isn’t the act of a civilized country. It’s the act of a vengeful animal.
In a generally better-quality report, ABC News, says that Hamas has confirmed the two were associated with the militant group. You’ll notice that, unlike the Israeli press, ABC actually traveled to the West Bank and interviewed family members to learn more about the suspects.
I find it darkly amusing that WINEP released a poll of Palestinian opinion which found that attitudes toward a two-state solution had “hardened.” You don’t say. And I wonder why? Putting 1-million Palestinians under a state of siege, killing five innocent civilians and arresting 500 will do that. The truth is that Bibi is happy destroying any chance of a two-state solution (or any solution) to the conflict. He creating his own facts on the ground. He has no Palestinian partner not because the partner drove him away, but just the opposite. It is Bibi who’s poisoning the well.
In the meantime, the government revealed that the 911 dispatcher who took the first call passed it to his supervisor, who decided it was a prank when she couldn’t get anyone to answer when she called the victim’s cell phone. That lost the police five precious hours in which to find the boys. If the supervisor had immediately put out an alert, security forces would’ve been searching only a few minutes after their kidnapping. Not after they were likely already dead.
I’ve written here regularly about the dreadful incompetence, corruption and brutality of the Israeli police. This is yet another example.
On an unrelated matter, but one sure to give you a chuckle, an Israeli reader sent me a screensho of an ad displayed in my Google sidebar tower. It was from Israel’s justice ministry and promoted Israel’s Freedom of Information Act. I hope the irony of promoting alleged Israeli government transparency will be evident to anyone who’s spent any amount of time here.