By Ray Hanania/
To the world, Ahmad Jarrar was a “terrorist” who murdered “innocent” Israeli Rabbi Raziel Shevach near his settlement outside of Nablus last month. Shevach was remembered in the Israeli and American news media as “a good-hearted family man” and “the father of six children” living quietly in his home in the Israeli settlement of Havat Gilad.
But what they don’t tell you is that Shevach represents a movement of hatred that has spread through the occupied West Bank through settlements built illegally on lands stolen from Palestinians. Shevach is memorialized as a leader of the Israeli settler movement, which is responsible for destroying millions of dunum of Palestinian farmland forcibly confiscated — stolen – from Palestinian civilians.
Many settlers are heavily armed and are allowed to carry automatic weapons. When Israeli settlers kill Palestinians who protest against the theft of their farmlands, even peacefully, the settlers are celebrated by Israel’s government, Israel’s media and some American news media as heroes. The Palestinian civilians they murder are demonized as “terrorists,” “Jew-haters,” “anti-Semites,” and “anti-peace.”
But, beyond the slanted, pro-Israel headlines is an ugly truth about the settlers, Israel’s government and the biased news media. They are lying to cover up their own crimes. They did not tell you that Jarrar, the 22-year-old accused of killing Shevach, was orphaned in 2000, when Israel murdered his father. And they surely didn’t tell you that, in the weeks after Shevach’s killing, Israeli soldiers were given permission to go after anyone who got in the way of their search for Shevach’s killer.
The biased Israeli and American news media didn’t tell you that Israel’s government has tried to kill Jarrar several times in the past and that maybe, just maybe, Jarrar was reacting to the violence against him and all that is ugly in Israeli policy in the West Bank when he killed Shevach.
I don’t support violence. I don’t support killings or murder. I support non-violence. But I also demand accuracy and accountability. Jarrar should have been captured and tried, and so should the Israelis who killed his father and who murdered the other Palestinian civilians killed by Israeli soldiers and armed settlers like Shevach, who live illegally in the Occupied West Bank.
What angers me is how easily Israel hides some facts and exaggerates others, and the Israeli and American news media are complicit in this biased reporting.
Was Shevach involved in the expansion of Israeli settlements on lands stolen from Palestinian civilians? He should have been held accountable, not killed. But Israel doesn’t hold its “special” citizens accountable, as we have seen in repeated incidents of Israeli soldiers murdering Palestinian civilians, and with only a select few slapped on their wrists when caught on video.
Israelis on Twitter ask me if I have no humanity in questioning the Shevach murder. But I ask them, do they have any humanity in ignoring the murders of Palestinian civilians?
Over the past few months, many Palestinians have been killed during Israeli raids into Palestinian cities, towns and villages. And yet the Israelis have no accountability, just propaganda press releases from the government asserting that the victims are terrorists.
There is no habeas corpus: A legal term for the requirement in democratic jurisprudence that suspects be brought before a judge publicly to face their accusers. They must be given their own independent lawyers to confront the accusations. Denying this allows Israel’s government to falsely brand every Palestinian they kill a “terrorist.”
Worse, because Palestinians and Arabs lack any real public relations campaigns in the West, which could counter the Israeli propaganda, many people just, accept the Israeli government’s word without question.
I feel sorry for the rabbi who was killed, and for his family. They have been brainwashed into believing that the oppression of Christian and Muslim Palestinians, and the theft of their land for racist Jewish-only settlements, is an acceptable way of life. It’s not.
The real victims are the Palestinians who must face this evil of Israeli settler oppression without a voice, without access to the rule of law, and with little hope of changing Israel’s policies.
Ray Hanania ([email protected]) is an award-winning Palestinian-American columnist