Israeli/Palestinian tragedies fuel conflict

Contrasting the media response to the murder of 17-year-old Mohammad Abu Kheider, in East Jerusalem today to the kidnapping of the 3 Israeli teenagers, Gil-Ad Shaer, Naftali Fraenkel and Eyal Yifrah nearly three weeks ago reveals the inherent and underlying antipathy to Israel.

Within hours American Secretary of State, John Kerry “condemns in the strongest possible terms the despicable and senseless abduction and murder” and calls on Prime Minister Netanyahu to investigate.

Prime Minister Netanyahu immediately called it a “reprehensible crime”, and awaited a police investigation.”  He directed Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch, to “work as quickly as possible in order to investigate who is behind the reprehensible murder and what the motive was.”

Quartet envoy Tony Blair issued a statement saying there “is no possible justification for such an horrendous act – and the perpetrators must be found swiftly and brought to justice “

The UN’s Mideast envoy, Robert Serry, issued a statement strongly condemning “the reported murder of a Palestinian boy in Jerusalem.

In Britain, both Premier David Cameron and Foreign Secretary William Hague said they were appalled by the murder.

This morning, official PA TV broadcast news about the murder, accusing Israeli “settlers” of carrying it out, holding “the Israeli government fully responsible,” and stating that PA Chairman Abbas has demanded a condemnation of the murder by Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu:

“The Palestinian leadership condemns the murder of the youth [Muhammad] Abu Khdeir by settlers and holds the Israeli government fully responsible.”

 “The President [Mahmoud Abbas] demands that [Israeli PM Benjamin] Netanyahu condemn the murder of Abu Khdeir by settlers.”

While all these statements pinned the blame and responsibility on the Israeli government, despite there being absolutely no proof that either settlers or even Jews had anything to do with the murder. Conspiracy theories have already affixed the blame unequivocally on Jewish settlers. These sentiments have spilled over onto the streets and Palestinian mobs are already rioting and burning property in the streets of East Jerusalem.

Sympathy for the Palestinians as victims of Israeli aggression from around the globe is gathering pace. The memory of the brutal murders of the 3 Jewish teens, in an instance has been neutralized by the killing of the Palestinian and Israel has already been judged by a partial media to have lost the moral high ground.

The kidnapping of the 3 Israeli teens on the other hand, received a muted response in the media and from the international community. It took 2 days for President Abbas to respond. It took weeks for the United Nations to respond. It took 3 days for Secretary of State Kerry to respond. When they did, all were reluctant to even admit that the boys could have been kidnapped. They were only prepared to admit to them being ‘missing’ as if they were playing truant. The media prejudice against ‘settlers’ and the unspoken fact that the Israeli teenagers were students at a Yeshiva, further alienated them from the sympathy and empathy of a world, programmed to view ‘settlers’ as the villains.

The world has been dismissive of Prime Minister Netanyahu’s insistence that Hamas was to blame, with Abbas only yesterday calling on Israel to provide proof.  This despite the fact that Hamas has openly touted kidnappings of Israelis as a policy and tool to win the release of its people behind bars. It even issued an 18-page “Field Manual for Kidnapping” to its Qassam Brigades, providing detailed explanations on how to target Israeli soldiers.

The Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Centre, has documented how Israeli security forces have foiled at least 48 kidnapping attempts by Hamas since January 2013, 14 of them this year alone.

Even though Hamas did not claim responsibility for the kidnapping of the 3 Yeshiva students, Prime Minister Netanyahu, had no doubts that they were responsible. Two Hamas operatives have since been identified as the main suspects. While Israel prayed for the missing boys, Hamas celebrated by handing out candies in a protest tent in Gaza.

Even if the Palestinian boy was killed by Jews, there can be no moral equivalence between the two events. When Hamas, which forms part of the unity government of Palestine adopts an explicit written policy to kidnap, abduct and kill Jews this cannot be likened to the acts, of an individual or small group of thugs, taking the law into their own hands. Israel does not and never has countenanced the wilful killing or targeting of civilians.

Reluctance to apportion blame for the unfortunate events of the past 3 weeks squarely at Hamas’s door, will only encourage more  extremism, and make efforts to find common ground all the more difficult.

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