Face Of The Day


At the archives of the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial museum, the front page of the original issue of the Nazi family magazine “Sonnie ins Haus” (Sunshine in the House) shows baby Hessy Taft as the ideal German Aryan baby, part of the Nazi propaganda developed by Joseph Goebbels. The magazine cover was recently donated by Taft to the museum as part of the “Gathering the Fragments” campaign. Hessy Taft (nee Levinson) was born in Berlin in 1934 to Jewish parents Jacob and Polin Levinson, who were originally from Latvia but later immigrated to Germany. By Gali Tibbon/AFP/Getty Images.

The Revenge Doctrine

The situation in Israel and Palestine continues to escalate, with Israel going all-in on its latest offensive in Gaza to quell renewed Hamas rocket fire:

The Israeli military announced the call-up of 1,500 reservists and the deployment of two infantry brigades along the Gaza Strip. Convoys of trucks carrying Israeli tanks and armored personnel carriers were seen on the highway headed south Tuesday. … Over the last 24 hours, Hamas and other anti-Israel militant groups in Gaza have fired more than 100 mortar rounds and rocket shells at Israel. More than a dozen were intercepted by Israel’s U.S.-supported Iron Dome missile-defense batteries, but many others fell on Israeli soil. Most of the rockets landed in open fields, but some hit structures.

Yishai Schwartz remarks that the torture-murder of Muhammad Abu Khdeir by alleged Jewish extremists last week is a symptom of a growing pathology in Israeli society:

[I]deas have power, and it would also be a mistake to write these murders off as the insane acts of deranged lone wolves. The perpetrators were deranged, but they were not alone. The same pathologies that animated Kahane’s followers and that Wieseltier identified decades ago have not disappeared. Radical nationalism, militant millenarianism, and social resentmentoften tinged with the fundamentalism of religious dogmaare all too alive in Israel’s underclass. And after years of steady Palestinian violence and rejection, too many in Israel shrug off the rhetoric of its own racists as regrettable, but understandable. …

It’s that resignation in the face of racism that scares me, and partly that’s because it comes from a place I understand. There is something beautiful about the belief that because we are Jews, racist rhetoric will never lead to brutal murder. And there is beauty to the genuine shocknot just horror, but surprisewhen it does.

Do you remember when American newscasters and presidents could still honestly declare themselves “shocked” and “unsettled” by mass shootings and school violence? In retrospect, that shock was a beautiful thing. But in the United States, those days are gone. We have grown accustomed to domestic mass shooting. And I fear that a similar thing is happening here in Israelthat this will be the last time that an Israeli defense minister can seem genuinely shaken by the reality of Jewish terror.

Dershowitz remains optimistic that Israel will bring Abu Khdeir’s killers to justice:

I believe the Israeli legal system will be fair, or perhaps even bend over backwards, when it comes to the brutal murderers of Khdeir. Criminal trials in Israel do not involve juries. Accused criminals are tried by professional judges, who are in general selected on a non-partisan basis. Verdicts and sentences are less likely to be influenced by popular opinion than in the United States, where judges are either elected or politically appointed, and where jurors are supposed to reflect the views of the people.

Even if some Israelis might have more sympathy for Jews who killed a Palestinian than for Palestinians who killed Jews, that sort of public bias will have little impact on the trial of those accused of killing Khdeir. The age of the defendants, however, might. There are reports that some may be minors, and Israeli law does take account of the age of accused criminals. But older vigilantes may well be involved as well, either in planning, inciting or protecting the actual killers. The investigation is ongoing and will not stop until everyone who has played a culpable role in the murder is apprehended and brought to justice.

But Saletan has his doubts about Netanyahu’s pledge to treat Abu Khdeir’s murder the same as other acts of terrorism:

It’s not just Netanyahu who has pledged that Khdeir’s killers “will face the full weight of the law.” Naftali Bennett, Israel’s economy minister, says he and his right-wing supporters “will demand the Terrorist Law we put forward be applied to the boy’s killers.” Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon says the killers “should be treated as terrorists.” Khdeir’s parents point out that there’s a simple way to make good on these promises. “Destroy their houses just like [Israel] destroyed the houses of the suspects in Hebron,” says the boy’s father. “Demolish their houses and give them life sentences,” says his mother.

Some Israelis are already concocting excuses for not applying the policy to Jews. Almagor, a 28-year-old organization that claims to speak “for terror victims’ rights,” says in its mission statement that every victim “is entitled to justice: punishment of the criminal, the psychological closure that comes with punishment, laying down the law in its full force.” But on Monday, in a letter to the Israeli government and members of parliament, the group’s director pleaded that while “we need to deter Palestinian terrorists by destroying houses and exiling their families,” Jews don’t need to be treated this way, because they seldom kill.

Face Of The Day

Mahmoud Abbas receives Mohammed Abu Khdeir's family

Fifteen-year-old American citizen Tariq Khdeir meets with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank city of Ramallah on July 7, 2014. Khdeir was beaten by Israeli policemen and arrested on Thursday during the funeral of his cousin Mohamed, who was abducted and killed by suspected Jewish settlers on Wednesday. By Issam Rimawi/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images.

Bibi’s Vengeance

A reader writes:

That quote from Netanyahu about god avenging etc. – that isn’t something he came up with; it is a standard religious thing to say whenever someone is murdered by an enemy (השם יקום דמו if you can read Hebrew; הי״ד , the acronym, is often simply added to the notice of such a death). Normally and through most of Jewish history, this was interpreted to mean simply that god will settle the score with the killer. The more sinister interpretation is obvious, but it is also quite a new idea, historically speaking, and it is only taken up on the very far right by supporters of the late racist hate-monger Meir Kahane. (To give you some idea of how far out they are from the mainstream, parties that advocate his teachings are outlawed.)

Another Jewish reader:

There’s a worse quote from Netanyahu. He quoted national poet Cham Bialik, as saying “such vengeance, the vengeance of the blood of a little child, is yet to be invented by the Devil.”

But he quoted out of context. Bialik, writing after the Kishinev pogrom, actually wrote (in his “On the Slaughter, Al Ha’Schita): “And damned be he who calls for vengeance!/Such Vengeance, the vengeance of a little child/is yet to be invented by the Devil.” In the Hebrew, it goes like this:

וְאָרוּר הָאוֹמֵר: נְקֹם!

נְקָמָה כָזֹאת, נִקְמַת דַּם יֶלֶד קָטָן

עוֹד לֹא-בָרָא הַשָּׂטָן –

This is one of most famous bits of poetry in Hebrew; it is taught to schoolchildren all over the country. By inverting the quote, by laying the emphasis on vengeance instead of its denouncement, Netanyahu was dog-whistling to his extreme right-wing crowd. He does so often; the Israel left has been calling him “inciter in chief” since the 1990s. Not something mentioned often in Republican circles, I’d bet.

Quote For The Day

“Abu Khdeir’s murderers are not ‘Jewish extremists.’ They are the descendants and builders of a culture of hate and vengeance that is nurtured and fertilized by the guides of ‘the Jewish state’: Those for whom every Arab is a bitter enemy, simply because they are Arab; those who were silent at the Beitar Jerusalem games when the team’s fans shouted ‘death to Arabs’ at Arab players; those who call for cleansing the state of its Arab minority, or at least to drive them out of the homes and cities of the Jews.

No less responsible for the murder are those who did not halt, with an iron hand, violence by Israeli soldiers against Palestinian civilians, and who failed to investigate complaints ‘due to lack of public interest.’ The term ‘Jewish extremists’ actually seems more appropriate for the small Jewish minority that is still horrified by these acts of violence and murder. But they too recognize, unfortunately, that they belong to a vengeful, vindictive Jewish tribe whose license to perpetrate horrors is based on the horrors that were done to it.

Prosecuting the murderers is no longer sufficient. There must be a cultural revolution in Israel. Its political leaders and military officers must recognize this injustice and right it. They must begin raising the next generation, at least, on humanist values, and foster a tolerant public discourse. Without these, the Jewish tribe will not be worthy of its own state,” – the editors at Ha’aretz.

The Best Of The Dish This Weekend

Pamplona Running Of The Bulls

The horrifying kidnapping and almost instant murder of three Israeli Jewish teens was only bested by Bib Netanyahu’s disgustingly Cheney-esque response: “May God avenge their blood.” To have the leader of a democratic country bless the concept of revenge after such an inflammatory event is quite something. It is not something that George W Bush engaged in publicly after 9/11, which was a thousand times more deadly than the foul crime on the West Bank. It is not something any leader seeking to keep his country civil and united would ever do.

So when a sectarian revenge fantasy becomes real – and a young Palestinian teen is burned alive in response – I think the prime minister bears some responsibility. But then he bears responsibility for so much: the relentless settlement of the West Bank, destroying any chance for a two-state solution (by clear design); the sharp deterioration in Israel’s relations with Europe, Turkey, and the United States, as a result; and the devolution of Greater Israel into a situation where sectarian revenge killings are now part of the fabric. It seems increasingly clear to me that Netanyahu should be seen less and less as a democratic figure like a European prime minister, and more like a democratically elected Middle Eastern sectarian figure, like Maliki. With the same potential consequences.

And here, for good measure, are two IDF soldiers beating the 15-year-old American cousin of the murdered Palestinian teen, allegedly caught in a violent protest:

Another video of the beating is here. If it looks like something the basij do in Tehran, you’re not far off. The State Department has issued a statement in response.

Meanwhile, we spent the weekend noting how spirituality is not all there is to religion; and that democracy may well produce a new kind of tyranny. We featured a creepy new Cronenberg short; a gorgeous floral time-lapse; and a reflection by yours truly on how to be an American and an Englishman.

Plus: sex after 60; getting off with your iPad (literally); and the anti-depressant qualities of Botox.

The most popular post of the weekend was written by Alexis de Tocqueville; the second most popular was on the relationship between narcissism and porn addiction.

You can always leave your unfiltered comments at our Facebook page and @sullydish. 15 more readers became subscribers this weekend. You can join them here – and get access to all the readons and Deep Dish – for a little as $1.99 month.

See you in the morning.

(Photo: Revellers hold up their red handkerchiefs during the opening and the firing of the ‘Chupinazo’ rocket which starts the 2014 Festival of the San Fermin Running of the Bulls on July 6, 2014 in Pamplona, Spain. By Pablo Blazquez Dominguez/Getty Images.)

Crime And Collective Punishment

The three Israeli teenagers who went missing last month were found dead on Monday, leading Israel to step up its harsh crackdown on Hamas:

In the past two weeks, Israel has launched a massive security operation in the West Bank that has led to the rounding up of over 400 Palestinians suspected of being Hamas operatives. The house-to-house searches and mass arrests brought Palestinian youth out into the streets. At least five Palestinians have died after being fatally shot by Israeli soldiers in the resulting crackdown, including 15-year-old teenager Mohammed Dudeen. … At least three Palestinians in the isolated coastal strip have died as a result [of airstrikes].

The latest volley of violence:

Palestinian rockets hit two homes in Sderot but caused no injuries. Ten people were injured by the Israeli strikes. According to The New York Times, the Israeli military said they had launched airstrikes in response to earlier rocket fire, specifically targeted training sites associated with the militant group Hamas, which controls Gaza. Israel also positioned troops along the Gaza border in what it described as a defensive measure.

Here are some young racist Israelis using the occasion to march through the streets yelling “Death to Arabs!”;

Their brazenness may well have been stirred by Netanyahu’s use of the word “revenge” to describe the Jewish state’s response to the horrifying murder of three Israeli teens. MJ Rosenberg is aghast:

Prime Minister Netanyahu’s response was perhaps the most repulsive response to an event like this that I have ever seen by any national leader of a civilized country. He vows “revenge.” Revenge? Not Even George W. Bush used that term after 9/11, pledging instead to bring the people who committed the crime to justice. FDR after Pearl Harbor? The parents after Newtown?

It’s at moment like this that you realize how tenuous Israel’s commitment to Western values have become of late. Here, for example, is a tweet showing bright young things in favor of ethnic cleansing of Arabs, the obvious end-point for Greater Israel:

Many are worried about a Third Intifada in response to all this. Beauchamp:

The million-dollar question is whether this escalates militarily, especially given that the two sides were already at a tense point. Before the [Gaza] bombing, 16 rockets had been fired into Israel out of the Gaza Strip. Israel alleges that they were the first Hamas-fired rockets since 2012. Other more recent rocket fire had been from smaller groups, which Hamas arguably attempted to repress in order to avoid risking Israeli retaliation. “Either Hamas stops it,” Netanyahu said, “or we will stop it.”

Max Fisher points out:

Collective punishment is designated as a war crime by the Geneva Conventions, which regulate warfare under international law.

It’s also deeply harmful to the Israel-Palestine peace process, polarizing Palestinian political groups and civilians against Israel. It also polarizes Israelis against Palestinians. Israeli government rhetoric and actions implicitly blaming wide swathes of Palestinians for the kidnapping have coincided with incidents of Israeli mob violence against Palestinians, including what appears to be the abduction and murder of an Arab teenager. …

In any case, the Hamas political leaders based in Gaza seem unlikely to have participated in a kidnapping in the West Bank committed by rogue Hamas militants, so it’s not clear that air strikes on Hamas political leaders in Gaza are an appropriate or justified response.

And as Eli Lake observes, Saleh al-Arouri, the Hamas commander believed by Israel to be the mastermind behind the recent wave of kidnappings in the West Bank, is not even in the country:

Senior Israeli officials confirmed for The Daily Beast that al-Arouri is the Hamas leader who has encouraged, funded and coordinated a campaign to ramp up kidnappings in the West Bank and that al-Arouri now resides in Turkey. …  [I]t could further complicate relations between Ankara and Jerusalem, two former allies that have tried recently to repair a broken relationship.

Meanwhile, Amjad Iraqi laments the “selective sympathy” on both sides when it comes to the deaths of Israeli and Palestinian children:

The apathy toward the “other child’s” suffering is painful to watch, including in this latest saga. In the two to three weeks following the abduction of the three Israeli boys, at least eight Palestinians were killed during Israel’s military responses in both Gaza and the West Bank. Among them were 10-year-old Ali al-Awour, 15-year-old Mohammad Dudeen and 22-year-old Mustafa Hosni Aslan. Ali died of wounds from an Israeli missile strike in northern Gaza; Mohammad was killed by a single live bullet in the village of Dura; Mustafa was killed by live bullets in Qalandiya refugee camp during clashes with an Israeli military raid.

I write the names of those three Palestinian boys not to belittle the horrific deaths of the three Israeli boys. I write their names because, while everyone will remember Gilad, Naftali and Eyal, no one will remember Ali, Mohammad or Mustafa.

And Susan Abulhawa decries the West’s double standard:

Palestinian children are assaulted or murdered every day and barely do their lives register in western press. While Palestinian mothers are frequently blamed when Israel kills their children, accused of sending them to die or neglecting to keep them at home away from Israeli snipers, no one questions Rachel Frankel, the mother of one of the murdered settlers. She is not asked to comment on the fact that one of the missing settlers is a soldier who likely participated in the oppression of his Palestinian neighbors. No one asks why she would move her family from the United States to live in a segregated, supremacist colony established on land confiscated from the native non-Jewish owners. Certainly no one dares accuse her of therefore putting her children in harms way.