Yesterday, I was the first media outlet outside the Arab world to report the true story (and video) of the Israeli police murder of Khairuddin Hamdan in the Galilee town of Cana. Since then, the news has crossed the world like wildfire. There is now a general strike in the Palestinian sector (in Israel). The town’s residents have protested with burning tires and tremendous anger against the cold-blooded execution of one of their own. Video I offered shows clearly that while Hamdan did assault the outside of a police vehicle, he was clearly retreating from a policeman who opened fire at close range and murdered him with multiple gun shots. The first police statement falsely claimed Hamdan had tried to stab them with a knife (the only thing Hamdan stabbed–and it’s not even clear what implement he held in his hands–was the vehicle itself). At no point did Hamdan pose a danger to any police officer.
It’s worth quoting here an insightful op-ed in Maariv by Amir Zohar on the absolute cluelessness of the Israelis police in this instance (please know that when I translate an article and use the term “Arab” it’s not my choice, but the author’s, which is why I put it in quotation marks below):
You don’t have to be an “Arab” to write angrily here about the police of the Northern District [Galilee]. You don’t have to be a legal scholar or left-wing journalist, God forbid, in order to determine that a police officer killed Arab civilian, Khir Hamdan, in cold blood and with the connivance of his masked poisonous colleagues who tainted the physical evidence both at the scene [of the crime] and the corpse itself, which they dragged on the ground like a sack of potatoes into their well-appointed, armored van. It was a real deluxe operation by officers lacking any communal awareness or basic knowledge of the regulations concerning evidence and workplace behavior of the police.
All this was whitewashed by their commanders and police spokespersons who, throughout the night, published mendacious statements about the Arab youth who ran at the police with a knife pointed directly at them. And that just before he stabbed them they fired in the air as required, before opening fire causing the mortal wounding and death of Hamdan…
All this, which continued being aired even into the morning, was a lie. The police hadn’t taken into account technology and social media, which even “primitive” Arabs know how to use.
For the information of the regional spokesperson, the policeman didn’t fire in the air. Rather, he fired into the back of the fleeing suspect. This is documented by the same video cameras which Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch threatens to use against the residents of East Jerusalem. This is the video camera which exposed the lies of the police. Technological justice works both ways it appears, as opposed to political justice [which only works one way]…
For no less than this, when white policemen killed a Black thief, entire cities in the U.S. burned for weeks. Israel has its own [unrest known as] Intifadas, and it appears the police are begging for a new one. The behavior of police in Kafr Cana points to the fact that their commanders haven’t learned anything about how to deal with civilian unrest, as was shown in the events of October 2000 [when 13 Palestinian protesters were killed by this same unit of Israeli police]…
The calls by Aharonovitch and other rightist Knesset members to shoot to kill terrorists in Jerusalem, may lead to their political burial in the Galilee, if the riots of Kafr Cana spread throughout the Arab communities in Israel and the PA.
A few days ago, after settlers stormed the Temple Mount and Israeli police desecrated the Al Aqsa mosque, spurring retaliatory terror attacks against Israeli Jews, Bibi Netanyahu mouthed some platitudes calling on his own ultra-nationalist MKs not to fan the fires of incitement. But those MKs mostly paid no heed. Deputy Knesset speaker Feiglin was at the forefront. Minister Uri Ariel moved himself into nice ex-Palestinian digs in East Jerusalem. The settler pyromaniacs had a field day in their bid to provoke religious war. Cartoonist Amos Biderman seems almost to be channeling this tweet I published in his latest cartoon.
What truly astounded me about the aftermath of the Cana killing is that instead offering the usual mealy-mouthed platitudes and half-hearted consolation, Bibi Netanyahu has thrown the murder in the faces of the victims. His statement today reminded me of the sort of cold, heartless response you’d hear from an Egyptian Pharaoh or a dictator like Hitler hoping to provoke a conflagration:
Israel is a nation of law. We will not tolerate disturbances and rioting. We will act against those who throw stones, block roads and call for the establishment of a Palestinian state in place of the State of Israel. Whoever does not honor Israeli law will be punished with utmost severity. I will instruct the Interior Minister to evaluate revoking the citizenship of those who call for the destruction of the State of Israel.
Who is he kidding? A ‘nation of law?’ For whom? Jews perhaps, if you’re the right kind. He ponderously won’t tolerate “disturbances” by Palestinians, but will tolerate, even praise, murder by his own police. He condemns stone-throwing and blocking roads, while omitting the incident that spurred the rioting: murder. As for “not honoring Israeli law,” it is the police who’ve done so. Unless Israeli law says police officers may murder Israeli citizens in cold blood, then it isn’t the residents of Cana who are lawless, but officers of the state.
As for revoking citizenship of Israeli Palestinians who condemn Israel, what self-respecting one would not condemn this regime as hateful to Palestinians. What self-respecting Palestinian wouldn’t see this regime as lawless?
Bibi is baring his fangs. The bloody fangs he inherited from his father, Jabotinsky’s right-hand henchman. He’s reverting to a primitive Revisionist-Zionist life form, one that sees enemies everywhere and destruction at every corner. When this “Zio-type” is cornered it becomes particularly virulent, particularly enraged, and capable of even more extreme violence than normal.
This statement by Bibi marks true desperation. He is so frightened of the looming Jerusalem Intifada and recent terror attacks there by East Jerusalem Palestinians, that he sees the Cana developments as a claw reaching out to the heart of Israeli society. Instead of Jerusalemites who aren’t Israelis citizens, those in Cana are. Once Israeli Palestinians begin rejecting the existence of the state of which they’re citizens, it could be only a matter of time before the ‘affliction’ sweeps the Palestinian communities.
Though I’m not a fan of the game of chicken, nor do I especially enjoy the prospect of apocalypse, the more extreme the Israeli leadership becomes, the more false-steps it makes, the more blood it spills, the closer it comes to the end of the line. I don’t mean the end of the line for Israel. But rather for the current iteration, a state based on corruption, ethnic and religious hatred, repression, and authoritarian rule.
Bibi wants to revoke MK Haneen Zoabi’s citizenship? Go right ahead. He wants to expel Palestinians en masse (as he said publicly he wanted to do in 1988)? You want to kill Palestinians in cold blood? The more you do the less chance you have of survival. So go right ahead. Mount those corpses on the ritual bonfire of Likudist vanity. Stack them so high they blot out the sun. Then when the EU comes to visit and wonders why all is dark, the answer will be self-evident. Then the American’s and Europeans will have no choice but to acknowledge the worst and take action, no matter how late.
Genocide? Religious holy war? Bring it on. Not that I want it personally. But it appears to be coming. Bibi’s statement above is the equivalent of “bring it!” So it might as well happen sooner than later. The sooner it does, the less will die. Oh, don’t get me wrong. Many will die anyway (alas probably most Palestinian). But it’s all a matter of degrees.
I await that fateful day, when Bibi or his successor gives the order to his IDF chief of staff to fire on thousands of Palestinians. The question is what will the troops do? Will they follow orders as they’re told and commit mass murder for all the world to see. Or will there be some fundamental break. Will some soldiers throw down their weapons either before or during the encounter? Will they say: we’ve had enough of this; our leaders don’t speak for us; this is not our war, let them fight it?
I realize this is my invented version of a scenario. It may not, probably will not happen precisely this way. But Israel’s future depends on whether there are those who awaken from their moral stupor and act in some way to signal their opposition. I don’t expect (though I’d like to see) any White Rose society of dissident resisters. But I would like to see the Israeli F.W. deKlerks turn their backs on their birthright and go over to the other side. It would be the beginning of the end. Or as Churchill once said: “not the beginning of the end, but perhaps the end of the beginning.” Because this promises to be a long process. Latter-day Israel and all the corrupt,unjust premises on which it’s based will not be transformed overnight. There is still a great deal of fight left in this Judean regime.
Silverstein has published Tikun Olam since 2003, It exposes the secrets of the Israeli national security state. He lives in Seattle, but his heart is in the east. He publishes regularly at Middle East Eye, the New Arab, and Jacobin Magazine. His work has also appeared in Al Jazeera English, The Nation, Truthout and other outlets.