Wedding Video Shows Israelis Celebrating Murder of Palestinian Toddler
Israeli political and religious leaders have joined their Palestinian counterparts in condemning a wedding video showing gun-wielding Jewish extremists celebrating the murder of a Palestinian toddler.
The video, which was recorded three weeks ago and aired on Israeli’s Channel 10 on Wednesday night, shows a group of Orthodox Jews dancing frenetically with guns, knives and firebombs. A photo of Ali Saad Dawabsheh, an 18-month-old Palestinian killed along with his parents in a July arson attack by suspected Jewish extremists, is held aloft and stabbed. Wedding guests can be heard singing, “Let me with one blow get revenge on the Palestinians for my two eyes.”
Channel 10 reported the wedding was of a couple “very well known in the radical right.” Some of the people seen dancing and celebrating Dawabsheh’s murder were described as friends of some of the suspects in the toddler’s slaying.
“Those kids were literally awash with hatred,” one of the wedding guests was quoted by the Guardian. “I’ve attended these kinds of weddings for several years, and those songs repeat themselves—but the weapons and the punctured photograph of the toddler Ali Dawabsheh were a real crossing of a red line.”
Israeli authorities are investigating the video, Agence France-Presse reports. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu condemned the footage, calling it “shocking” and saying it showed “the true face of a group that constitutes a danger to Israeli society and to the security of Israel.”
“We are not prepared to accept people who deny the laws of the state and do not view themselves as subject to them,” Netanyahu said in a statement.
Haaretz reports Zionist Union leader Issac Herzog also condemned the video.
“You miserable people, you’ve forgotten what it is to be Jews,” Herzog tweeted. “You disgrace your skullcap, your prayer shawl and the name of God. Whoever dances at a wedding and celebrates the murder of a sleeping baby is not Jewish and not Israeli. He should be put behind bars as quickly as possible.”
“Acts like these are not the way of Judaism. This is a rejection and repudiation of the values of the Jewish people, of the Torah of Israel and the uniqueness of the Jewish people,” said Chief Rabbi David Lau. “Parents and educators must take it upon themselves, along with law enforcement, to do everything possible to prevent this appalling identification with such frightful acts of terrorism and murder.”
Even some far-right Israeli lawmakers decried the video.
“The evil ideology of price tag is not the path of religious Zionism,” said Bezalel Smotrich of the Jewish Home party, referring to ‘price tag’ attacks by Jews, usually from settlements built illegally on Palestinian land, against the indigenous Arab population. “That surreal dance with the picture of the baby who was murdered in his sleep represents a dangerous ideology and a loss of humanity.”
According to the Israeli human rights group Yesh Din, Jewish settler colonists, who receive Israeli government subsidies and military protection, are rarely punished when they attack Palestinians. Although the number of violent settler attacks against Arabs doubled over the past year, 91.6 percent of investigations of those attacks were closed without any indictment.
“The settlers are merely part of a system that promotes structural violence against Palestinians,” Ramy Abdu, director of the Gaza chapter of the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor, told Al Jazeera. “The Israeli government is only outraged because settlers are showing off and celebrating their happiness about the crimes they do with the [government’s] direct or indirect encouragement.”
Some critics have called ‘price tag’ attacks one of the most visible components of what they call Israel’s ongoing ethnic cleansing of Palestine. Many Jews counter that all of Palestine, which was home to numerous ancient Jewish kingdoms thousands of years ago, was promised to them by ‘God,’ with Zionist hard-liners often asserting there is no such thing as a Palestinian people or land.
The United States, Israel’s number one ally and benefactor, includes both Palestinian attacks and Jewish ‘price tag’ violence in its annual State Department terrorism reports.
“Attacks by extremist Israeli settlers against Palestinian residents, property and places of worship in the West Bank continued and were largely unprosecuted,” the State Department report states. “The UN… reported 399 attacks by extremist Israeli settlers that resulted in Palestinian injuries or property damage (in 2013).”
On July 31, 18-month-old Ali Saad Dawabsheh was burned alive when masked attackers firebombed his family home in the village of Duma in the occupied West Bank. Dawabsheh’s parents and 4-year-old brother were critically injured in the arson attack. His father, 32-year-old Saad Dawabsheh, died four days later. His mother, Reham Dawabsheh, 26, died five weeks after the attack. A Star of David and the words “revenge” and “long live the Messiah” were painted on a wall near the family’s home.
Israeli authorities have arrested numerous suspects in connection with the Duma attack. Several of the young men are reportedly from Jewish American families who immigrated to Israel. One 17-year-old American Israeli, Elisha Odess of Tzufim settlement, confessed to involvement in the murders. However, his father claims the teen was tortured into confessing.
“We are sure he didn’t commit this crime,” Rabbi Moshe Odess told Jewish Telegraphic Agency. “When they put him through the most aggressive interrogation of Jews in the history of Israel, when we heard that they were blaming him for Duma, we were in shock.”
“We learned that he went through a set of torture to admit to all kinds of crimes,” Odess said of his son. “The boy cried in front of the judge, begging him not to return him to torture, that he would rather die than go back to torture.”
Lawyers for the suspects in the Duma attack allege Shin Bet, the Israeli internal state security agency, subjected their clients to sensory and sleep deprivation, slaps and kicks and blows to their “sensitive organs.” All of these abuses are illegal under international anti-torture law. Israel is regularly accused of mistreating and torturing Palestinians, including children, who resist its nearly half-century illegal occupation of Palestine, but allegations of abuse of Jewish prisoners are much rarer.
The Times of Israel reports Shin Bet denies torturing any of the Duma murder suspects.
“Over the last few days a false smear campaign against the Shin Bet and its employees has been going on,” the agency said in a statement. “These claims are false and devoid of any connection to reality. The purpose of these lies flying around is to blacken the name of the Shin Bet, thus trying to hurt its ability to perform its job—by disrupting the investigation and damaging the image of the agency and its employees.”
Videos of both Israelis and Palestinians celebrating attacks on the other side have periodically made headlines in the region and around the world. Sometimes the recordings feature children, like an al-Aqsa TV program imploring Palestinian youth to violently attack Jews and “turn their faces into tomatoes,” or footage showing Israeli children at a military museum saying they want to grow up and kill Arabs.
The Jewish wedding video emerged as Israeli security forces killed four Palestinians who attacked Jews in separate incidents in the occupied West Bank on Thursday. The Guardian reports two Israelis were stabbed to death outside the gates of Jerusalem’s Old City.
Since October 1, at least 130 Palestinians and 20 Israelis have been killed in a wave of violence that began when Palestinians reacted violently to increasing visits by Jews to Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque compound—one of the holiest sites in Islam and Judaism, where it is known as the Temple Mount.
Both Palestinian and Israeli attacks have been condemned by the international community. US Secretary of State John Kerry called Palestinian stabbings “acts of terrorism,” while human rights monitor Amnesty International and Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallström are among those who have accused Israel of “extrajudicial executions” of suspected Palestinian assailants.