West Bank murder: Leaders fail to address nature of settler violence

The murder of a Palestinian baby has provoked condemnation from Israeli leaders across the political spectrum. Yet the harsh rhetoric masks a consistent failure by the Israeli establishment to understand the endemic nature of this kind of violence.

Relatives of Palestinian baby Ali Saad Dawabsha grieve after he was murdered in an arson attack on a Palestinian house, Duma, West Bank, July 31. 2015. (photo: Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Friday morning’s “price tag” arson attack in the West Bank village of Duma, which killed Palestinian baby Ali Saad Dawabsha and left his parents and brother in critical condition, has been labeled an act of terror by nearly all Israeli and Palestinian politicians alike.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the arson “an act of terrorism in every respect,” and announced that he has put Israel’s security forces to work: “The State of Israel takes a strong line against terrorism regardless of who the perpetrators are.”

Culture Minister Miri Regev struck a similar tone: “Terror is terror, no matter from which side, Jewish or Arab.”

Meanwhile, Education Minister Naftali Bennett of the Jewish Home party declared: “This is not a ‘hate crime,’ nor ‘price tag.’ This is murder. Terror is terror is terror.” Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, also of Jewish Home, also referred to terrorism and claimed that in an event such as this, “there is no Jewish or Arab, Left or Right,” just “a battle between the forces of light and darkness.”

The IDF, too, has adopted the same rhetoric as the politicians, labeling the arson an act of “Jewish terror.” IDF Spokesperson Peter Lerner, called the attack ”a barbaric act of terrorism.”

Meanwhile Zionist Camp head Isaac Herzog took a slightly different tone. Although he went further in terms of calling for “leadership” and “soul-searching” in the wake of the murder, he stopped short of using the word terrorism, instead labeling it a “hate crime.”

Photographs of Ali Saad Dawabsha, the Palestinian baby in an overnight arson attack, are laid out on the floor of his family home, Douma, West Bank, July 31, 2015. (photo: Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)