In all the annals of miscarriage of justice, Israel-style, this one is right up there. Two years ago, during the Knife Intifada, an Israeli Bedouin attacked the Beersheva bus station. One soldier was killed and ten others wounded. In all the confusion, Israeli vigilante bystanders, who included both police personnel and prison guards, saw an Eritrean refugee, Haftom Zarhum, who’d come to Beersheva to renew his work visa.
Even though Eritrean refugees look nothing like Palestinians and he had no weapon, they decided that Zarhum was the terrorist and began assaulting him. Eight shots were fired into his body from almost point-blank range. They kicked him in the head and beat him senseless. Then the “piece de la resistance” of torture was the vigilante who ripped a row of metal chairs from the floor, ran over to the victim and brought the entire apparatus down on his head with full force. Though the coroner said the bullets killed him, this was certainly the coup de grâce (I don’t know French well enough to know that the opposite of grace is in this case–the word is certainly is inapt in this grisly case).
I posted about this case when it was first reported. There was tremendous soul-searching in some Israeli circles about the savagery of this attack. (I apologize for the violence in the above video–I usually eschew this approach to reporting, but this incident is so egregious I want everyone who can stomach it to watch the horrific violence and consider where it comes from and what it means.) Some Israelis were horrified by the homicidal racism which spurred this lynching.
But I knew in my heart it would all be swept under the rug. That indeed is what the Israeli justice system proposes. After all the outrage, the overwhelming force of the national security state came to bear. The police and prison authority united to protect their own. As a result, the guy (referred to as “Moyal” in the passage below) who smashed Zarhum with the chairs gets off scot-free (just after the killing he told an interviewer: “what’s to apologize for?”). The other seven defendants get off with no jail time at all. They will do community service and perhaps shed a crocodile tear or two (or not) and return to their lives:
Under the plea bargain offered, Moyal, who had worked at a shwarma sandwich shop at the bus station during the incident, will be convicted of abusing a helpless person. The penalty under law is up to seven years in prison. The original charge, of aggravated assault, carries up to 20 years imprisonment. But if the plea bargain is approved, Moyal won’t do a day behind bars, after the prosecution agreed to community service, the extent of which will be determined by the court. Moyal’s defense lawyers will also be able to demand that Moyal’s conviction be set aside…
In June 2016, a Prisons Service tribunal decided against charging prison warden Hananiya Shabbat for involvement in the mob attack on Zarhum.
In some circles they’ll even be applauded as heroes of the nation just as the IDF murderer of Abd al-Fatah a-Sharif, Elor Azarya, was hailed as the conquering hero after the IDF brought him up on relatively minor charges in the aftermath of the cold-blooded execution. They’ll say of the Beersheva killers: “well you never know with these people. He could very well have been a terrorist. You did what you thought best to protect us.”
But make no mistake, this was an act of terrorism, cold-blooded vigilante lynching like what Southern whites did to Blacks a century ago. It doesn’t matter what the killers thought they were doing or how confusing the situation might have been. This was blood vengeance. And the Israeli justice system’s whitewashing of the legal case with these pathetic sentences is state sanctioning of such terrorism.
This is the fate of African refugees in Israel. Viewed as little more than infiltrators. A spreading cancer, toxic to the Jewish state and its pure bloodlines. Instead of, if not welcoming, them, at least being cognizant of the Jewish people’s historic responsibility to treat strangers with a minimum of dignity, they are hated, imprisoned, and expelled, contrary to international humanitarian law. This is but one of many reasons I believe it’s a misnomer to call Israel a Jewish state. It ignores or even disdains some of the most cherished traditions of Judaism, in favor of a truculent, violent, even homicidal version of the religion, which I prefer to call Judeanism. Personally, I find this distorted religion to be little more than pagan idolatry, the worship of supposedly historical myths, relics and ruins, in favor of real living people and ethical values.