Today, an Israeli Facebook user noticed a post by an Israeli settler dedicated to the suspect in the Dawabsheh terror murders who confessed. Here is what he wrote:
“It appears that one of our comrades confessed in the Dawabsheh incident. This shrivels in comparison to the torture he suffered. Those evil ones [Shabak] broke him, literally. They placed him in handcuffs as tight as they could make them. So they wouldn’t leave marks on his body, they covered him in bandages and then kicked and beat him, tying his head backward…And that’s only what we, his friend, know in the meantime.
It doesn’t change anything. A. [the Hebrew letter ayin], we love you and stand behind you.
There is only one suspect whose first name begins with the Hebrew letter, ע. That is Amiram Benoliel. I’ve already reported that one of the suspects confessed to his interrogators and took them to the scene of the crime and reconstructed it for them. Until tonight, I couldn’t identify him.
In the meantime, the Forward published a new piece today in which it identified a second suspect, Elisha Odess, as a U.S. citizen. I’d previously identified Israel Keller as a U.S. citizen as well. For some reason, the Forward didn’t report this, though it would’ve strengthened their piece. The Forward did link to my post, which was the first publication of Odess’ name, but didn’t acknowledge that I’d broken that particular aspect of the story.
Half of the major suspects are Americans. A matter you’d think the State Department would wish to address, since we say we oppose terrorism at home and abroad. Yet, State seems to have lost its tongue on this one. Several approaches and tweets to Public Affairs officers in the Department have been met with deafening silence.
There is a major difference between this case and previous cases of Jewish terror. That difference also involves a supreme, and bitter irony. The difference is that Shabak has taken the gloves off. Instead of treating acts of Jewish terrorism with laxness and indifference, Shabak has reacted with great determination. When it wants to solve a crime it uses torture. That is the only way it seems able to get results–or at least gets confessions and convictions. As I reported here, it eschews the usual police methods adopted by the FBI and similar western counter-terror agencies. No complicated forensics. No canvassing of crime scenes and massive interrogations of witnesses. Most of all, little or no contact with victims and their families, unless they’re Jewish.
All of the four young suspects (three are teenagers) are being tortured. We know this because their families and the settler lobby have raised a hue and cry. Their lawyers, with whom they’ve been permitted a single meeting during the two weeks period they’ve been jailed, also claimed torture. In this judicial document, Odess’ lawyer asks an Israeli court to end his client’s torture at the hands of the Shabak.
Settlers and their terror infrastructure, including NGOs like Honenu, display the ultimate hypocrisy by screaming bloody murder when their own are tortured, while cheering the Shabak when it elicits confessions and long jail sentences by torturing Palestinians. The reason is simple: Palestinians are not human, not on a par with the Jew. Therefore there can be no common cause made with them. Only Jews are truly human and therefore deserve the normal protections of civil and human rights.
In the legal document I linked above, there is a great deal of interesting information about the Shabak torturers who are “interrogating” Odess. And that leads me to the supreme irony: that the names of these Shabak agents are the same as the names we read in the accounts of torture of Palestinian security suspects. I referred to one of them, “Netzer,” here. Some of his more popular torture techniques used when he was a mere Major in 2004 are recounted here (on page 14). And his ‘prowess’ is also detailed by a Palestinian prisoner here. Here he explained in all innocence why the Knesset should exempt Shabak from having to record interrogation sessions. In light of the torture outlined above, all you can do is muster a dry, cruel laugh:
Shin Bet investigations are overseen and documented from the beginning to the end [ed., note he doesn’t say how they’re documented, in what form, etc.]. We’re not talking about damaging anyone’s human rights, but rather protecting our methods. The exemption is necessary so that our enemies don’t learn our investigative methods.
Netzer’s now been promoted to Major General and is the agency’s chief interrogator, where he is now working his “magic” on the Dawabsheh suspects.
For the first time perhaps in the history of the Shabak, it has determined to treat these particular Jewish suspects almost precisely like it treats Palestinians. I’m not sure whether the reason is the inordinate pressure under which the international community has placed Israel’s leaders. Or whether the Shabak has finally determined that the settlers have gone too far and determined to rein them in.
There can be no doubt that the settlers have gone almost as far down the road toward mass murder as they can while still remaining part of the State of Israel (which many of them reject for its secular nature). Channel 10 played a remarkable video on the news last night. It was filmed at a settler wedding at which Yakir Eshbal and Roni Goldberg married. These are not just any settlers and the event was not just any event. Goldberg’s father, Lenny Goldberg, was a chief aide to Meir Kahane’s son, who was assassinated by Palestinians. Lenny has written a tome dedicated to the Rebbe’s memory entitled (I kid you not), The Wit and Wisdom of Rabbi Meir Kahane
Eshbal is a well-known settler extremist regularly arrested and interrogated by the Shabak under suspicion of engaging in price tag attacks against Palestinians. Bride and groom hail from neighboring settlements in the heart of Kahane Country, Kfar Tapuach and Yitzhar. The former is the settlement where Odess lives, which explains why the wedding guests were so keen on celebrating the Dawabsheh murders.
The video marks a watershed in settler brutalism. At a wedding, supposed to be Judaism’s highest celebration of life and joy, guests danced jubilantly with rifles and knives. Adult men passed the weapons to children so they could join in. Someone grabbed a knife and a picture of the four year-old Dawabsheh boy who burned to death in the arson attack. He stabbed the picture of the poor child repeatedly.
Defense Minister Bogie Yaalon gathered settler leaders in his office to air the video for them. Even they came away shocked (albeit momentarily, I’m sure). Chief Rabbi David Lau denounced them declaring “this is not Judaism.” But it is. Not Judaism as I know it. Not Judaism as practiced in most of the Diaspora. But this is the Judaism of Eretz Yisrael (“the Land of Israel”). If it is not, Rabbi Lau can excommunicate any Jew who harms a Palestinian, certainly ones who murder them. But he won’t do that because it would cause a massive split within Israeli Orthodox Judaism. And as long as he won’t act against Jewish murderers, he has no right to say what they believe isn’t Judaism.
Of course, there are many Jews in Israel, even Orthodox Jews, who are disgusted by the Dawabsheh murders and videos like this. But they’ve become an even smaller minority than they used to be. Judaism Israel-style has taken on the trappings of the Nazis Blut und Boden (“Blood and Soil”). But not just blood as the Nazis conceived it, that is, a form of ethnic purity and bloodlines, but actual blood.
Last night, I posted about Bentzi Gopstein, who called Christians in the Holy Land vampires and bloodsuckers. What does this video show if not Jews seething for blood? The blood of Palestinians? What will we expect to see next? Snuff videos of Eshbal and his fellow terrorists actually stabbing Palestinian babies to death? Perhaps drinking their blood? Where does it end?
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.