Bombs are raining on Gaza and rockets on Southern Israel, people are dying and homes are being destroyed.


         Again without any purpose.

Again with the certainty that after it’s all over, everything will essentially be the same as it was before.

But I can hardly hear the sirens that warn of rockets coming towards Tel Aviv. I cannot take my mind off the awful thing that happened in Jerusalem.

         If a gang of neo-Nazis had kidnapped a 16-year old boy in a London Jewish neighborhood in the dark of the night, driven him to Hyde Park, beaten him up, poured gasoline into his mouth, doused him all over and set him on fire – what would have happened?

         Wouldn't the UK have exploded in a storm of anger and disgust?

         Wouldn't the Queen have expressed her outrage?

         Wouldn't the Prime Minister have rushed to the home of the bereaved family to apologize on behalf of the entire nation?

         Wouldn't the leadership of the neo-Nazis, their active supporters and brain-washers, be indicted and condemned?

         Perhaps in the UK. Perhaps in Germany.

         Not here. Not in Israel.

         This abominable atrocity took place in Jerusalem. A Palestinian boy was abducted and burned alive. No racist crime in Israel ever came close to it.

         Burning people alive is an abomination everywhere. In a state that claims to be “Jewish,” it is even worse.

         In Jewish history, only one chapter comes close to the Holocaust: the Spanish Inquisition. This Catholic institution tortured Jews and burned them alive at the stake. Later, this happened sometimes in the Russian pogroms. Even the most fanatical enemy of Israel could not imagine such an awful thing happening in Israel. Until now.

         Under Israeli law, East Jerusalem is not occupied territory. It is a part of sovereign Israel.

         The chain of events was as follows:

         Two Palestinians, apparently acting alone, kidnapped three Israeli teenagers who were trying to hitchhike at night from a settlement near Hebron. The objective was probably to use them as hostages for the release of Palestinian prisoners.

         The action went awry when one of the three succeeded in calling the Israeli police emergency number from his mobile phone. The kidnappers, assuming that the police would soon be on their tracks, panicked and shot the three at once. They dumped the bodies in a field and fled. (Actually, the police bungled things and only started their hunt the next morning.)

         All of Israel was in an uproar. Many thousands of soldiers were employed for three weeks in the search for the three youngsters, combing thousands of buildings, caves and fields.

The public uproar was surely justified. But it soon degenerated into an orgy of racist incitement, which intensified from day to day. Newspapers, radio stations and TV networks competed with each other in unabashed racist diatribes, repeating the official line ad nauseam and adding their own hideous commentary – every day, around the clock.

         The security services of the Palestinian Authority, which collaborated throughout with the Israeli security services, played a major role in discovering early on the identity of the two kidnappers (identified but not yet caught). Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian Authority president, stood up in a meeting of the Arab countries and condemned the kidnapping unequivocally and was branded by many of his own people as an Arab Quisling. Israeli leaders, on the other hand, called him a hypocrite.

         Israel’s leading politicians let loose a salvo of utterances that would be seen anywhere else as outright fascist. A short selection:  

         Danny Danon, deputy minister of defense: “If a Russian boy had been kidnapped, Putin would have flattened village after village!”

         “Jewish Home” faction leader Ayala Shaked: “With a people whose heroes are child murderers we must deal accordingly.” (“Jewish Home” is a part of the government coalition.)

         Noam Perl, world chairman of Bnei Akiva, the youth movement of the settlers: “An entire nation and thousands of years of history demand revenge!”

         Uri Bank, former secretary of Uri Ariel, housing minister and builder of the settlements: “This is the right moment . When our children are hurt, we go berserk, no limits, dismantling of the Palestinian Authority, annexation of Judea and Samaria (the West Bank), execution of all prisoners who have been condemned for murder, exile of family members of terrorists!”

         And Binyamin Netanyahu himself, speaking about the entire Palestinian people: “They are not like us. We sanctify life, they sanctify death!”

         When the bodies of the three were found by tourist guides, the chorus of hatred reached a new crescendo. Soldiers posted tens of thousands of messages on the internet calling for revenge, politicians egged them on, the media added fuel, lynch mobs gathered in many places in Jerusalem to hunt Arab workers and rough them up.

         Except for a few lonely voices, it seemed that all Israel had turned into a soccer mob, shouting “Death to the Arabs!”

         Can anyone even imagine a present-day European or American crowd shouting “Death to the Jews?”

         The six who were arrested for the bestial murder of the Arab boy had come straight from one of these “Death to the Arabs” demonstrations.

         First they had tried to kidnap a 9-year old boy in the same Arab neighborhood, Shuafat. One of them caught the boy in the street and dragged him towards their car, choking him at the same time. Luckily, the child succeeded in shouting “Mama!” and his mother started hitting the kidnapper with her cell phone. He panicked and ran off. The choking marks on the boy’s neck could be seen for several days.

         The next day the group returned, caught Muhammad Abu-Khdeir, a cheerful 16-year old boy with an engaging smile, poured gasoline in his mouth and burned him to death.

         (As if this was not enough, Border Policemen caught his cousin during a protest demonstration, handcuffed him, threw him on the ground and started kicking his head and face. His wounds look terrible. The disfigured boy was arrested; the policemen were not.)

         The atrocious way Muhammad was murdered was not mentioned at first. The fact was disclosed by an Arab pathologist who was present at the official autopsy. Most Israeli newspapers mentioned the fact in a few words on an inner page. Most TV newscasts did not mention the fact at all.

         In Israel proper, Arab citizens rose up as they have not done in many years. Violent demonstrations throughout the country lasted for several days. At the same time, the Gaza Strip frontline exploded in a new orgy of rockets and aerial bombings in a new mini-war, which already has a name: “Solid Cliff.” (The army's propaganda section has invented another name in English.) The new Egyptian dictatorship is collaborating with the Israeli army in choking the Strip.

         The names of the six suspects of the murder-by-fire – several of whom have already confessed to the appalling deed – are still being withheld. But unofficial reports say that they belong to the Orthodox community. Apparently this community, traditionally anti-Zionist and moderate, has now spawned neo-Nazi offspring, which surpass even their religious-Zionist competitors.

         Yet terrible as the deed itself is, to my mind the public reaction is even worse. Because there isn’t any.

         True, a few sporadic voices have been heard. Many more ordinary people have voiced their disgust in private conversations.

But the deafening moral outrage one could have expected did not materialize.

         Everything was done to minimize the “incident,” prevent its publication abroad and even inside Israel. Life went on as usual. A few government leaders and other politicians condemned the deed in routine phrases, for consumption abroad. The World Cup elicited far more interest. Even on the Left, the atrocity was treated as just another item among the many misdeeds of the occupation.

         Where is the outcry, the moral uprising of the nation, the unanimous decision to stamp out the racism that makes such atrocities possible?

         The new flare-up in and around the Gaza Strip has obliterated the atrocity altogether.

         Sirens sound in Jerusalem and in towns north of Tel-Aviv. The missiles aimed at Israeli population centers have successfully (up to now) been intercepted by counter-missiles. But hundreds of thousands of men, women and children are running to the shelters. On the other side, hundreds of daily sorties of the Israeli Air Force turn life in the Gaza Strip into hell.

         When the cannons roar, the muses fall silent.

         Also the pity for a boy burnt to death.

Uri Avnery is a former member of the Israeli Knesset and founder of the peace group Gush Shalom.






I personally lose sleep over the goings on in Gaza, home to a people(some refugees on their own land) who have no military(except Zionist occupiers)yet are seen as big threats to Israeli security. I'm sad for the victims that initiated these overt hostilities of both sides, of which Israel has a stark advantage,Thanks American people for the daily $8 million a day used to oppress those in the WB and Gaza. Fact is, Israel like any bully, the slightest excuse to maim murder and justify its bad behavior will do. Usually its that kids throw rocks in protest to the IOF, more significantly, Hamas rockets, which compared to Israel firepower is mostly noise makers, again symbolic protest of the occupation of Zionists. Israel will only be satisfied when it has succeeded in its total ethnic cleansing of Palestine, ya gotta love the steadfastness of Palestinians who stay, for it'd be safer to just leave(Israeli main goal is to make it so bad, they do). I sobbed watching the Days of Remembrance series by the Shoah Foundation and Steven Spielberg, which only cause more sadness, for those I cry for descendents are doing to the Palestinians what was done to their ancestors, and began not so long after the end of the Holocaust, as victims tried to recover from their ordeals. More and more I'm like Rachel Corrie: "I'm witnessing this chronic, insidious genocide and I'm really scared, and questioning my fundamental belief in the goodness of human nature. This has to stop. I think it is a good idea for us all to drop everything and devote our lives to making this stop." Is that what its going to take to stop the oppressors?Has the world lost its heart, its compassion? I once thought America was the most caring ever, and to find ulterior motives and agendas is disheartening, using 'humanitarian goals' to get into a country to eventually grab its resources, is not a caring heart, but then I have to recall Jefferson's Trail of Tears, and the white Europeans' mandate from god to force Native Americans from their land, and all the actions used to gain American citizens confidence to go to do its wars. Is that why the US doesn't stop Israel? It sees itself, its colonial child. Those Israeli tanks and jets are actually USA tanks and jets. Like Rachel my heart is broken. If I were younger and in better health I'd join her cause physically.
Minor correction - it was President Andrew Jackson who sent the Cherokee nation on the Trail of Tears, not Thomas Jefferson. Other than that, spot-on and much appreciated.
This article and its slant offends any fair-minded individual. Ten thousand rockets at Israel civilians is overlooked because it doesn't fit the Hate Israel agenda. I will never contribute to the Progressive Movement another dime asl long as it is an arm of radical Islam.
The reporter is clearly blind, deaf and dumb. The Jews of Israel and around the world openly expressed their outrage over the murder of Palestinian teenager. They were horrified. I read many articles and op ed pieces by Jews calling for the jewish community to search their souls and ask themselves whether their behavior on various fronts somehow made it seem acceptable to the murderers to commit such a heinous crime. Rabbis from every denomination denounced the crime , as did jewish community leaders How is it possible that the author didn't notice. Moreover, he asserts that there would be outrage if any group screamed that there should be death to the Jews. Again, does he not have a television or newspaper or a computer. All over the world there are marches calling for that and the screamers aren't making any distinction between Jews and Israelis. He must have missed the crowd in Paris who surrounded a synagogue last week ,viciously making threats such that the police 've had to escort the Jews out of the building. I'm here in the US and I'm reading six Israeli newspapers online to see what is happening, including the very left wing ones. I also read reputable us papers and jewis communal publications. The jewish reaction to the Palestinian teen's murder and reports of the anti-jewish riots are right there for all to see. If the author is in tel Aviv he can't possibly be oblivious to the jewish communitiy's horror at the murder. He is therefore lying to all of you. I note he doesn't mention the Palestinian response to the kidnappings, which included celebrations in the streets and handing out cakes and candy. I have been against the settlements on the west bank and believe almost all of them should be dismantled and I have supported negotiations for a Palestinian state from 40 years ago when the mere mention of israel negotiating with the palestians was anathema. I had the privilege of being called a "self hater" by a Midwestern newspaper for saying thAt. I think the far left often adopts an approach that thinks it's ok to lie to make a point and if it furthers a political agenda. Criticize israel 's policies all you want ;,plenty of Israel's do that daily, but don't lie about jewish responses to murder and ignore the fact that that, indeed, screams for death to the Jews is occurring regularlyvaround the world. Calls for deaths to Arabs on the part of Jews occurs very infrequently.and when it does (as it did recently In jerusalem after it was known that the three kidnapped teens were fed), it is usually by an a group that is not typical.

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The beauty and the tragedy of everyday life in a war zone.

Maybe I should only be shocked that I wasn’t shocked a long time ago.

By Wendell Berry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.

Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).

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