Israelis rejoice at the death of Palestinian children in bus accident


A story appeared in Israel’s Haaretz newspaper last month about what happened after nine Palestinian children and one adult were killed in a school bus accident north of Jerusalem.

Israelis rejoice at the death of Palestinian children in bus accidentFirefighters at the site of a crash between a truck and a school bus transporting Palestinian children between Jerusalem and the West Bank city of Ramallah on Feb. 16, 2012. At least ten Palestinian children from east Jerusalem were killed when their school bus was hit by a truck on a road in the West Bank. Ahmad Gharabli / AFP – Getty Images

In “Enemies, a hate story”, Gideon Levydescribed the coverage of the story as “Workmanlike overall if faceless and depersonalized.”

The accident would have been followed by “a lot more blood and tears” if the children had been Jewish, adds Levy.

But worse than ignoring the tragic deaths of the children when an Israeli truck overturned their bus were the nasty, hateful things that Israelis had to say on the internet.

They revealed their names and their Facebook photos, spewing forth nauseating, hate-permeated racism that seemed to exceed anything seen here previously,” wrote Levy.

“Relax, these are Palestinian children,” Benny Dazanashvili wrote on Twitter.

“It seems these are Palestinians … God willing,” posted Tal Biton.

“I hope every day there is a bus like this,” chipped in Itai Viltzig.

“Dozens, if not hundreds, of Internet surfers said a prayer of thanks – for the terrible death by fire of young children on a school field trip – and the responses were featured on the web pages of the prime minister and the Israel Police and the Walla! Web portal,” wrote Levy.

The only light came from Meira Baruch, who wrote: “I’m 63 years old. Only a few times in my life have I been ashamed to be a Jew. Today I am ashamed. How can anyone rejoice over the death of little children?”

What Levy says next should be covered in every major newspaper and TV station in the West: “Enemies, a hate story. In the past few years, anti-Arab hatred and racism have reached monstrous proportions and are no longer restricted to a negligible minority.”

These Israelis are inviting a blowback of hatred from Palestinians who have generally been placid. Of all who should know better, young Jews should have learned how high a price accompanies racial hatred.

Levy comments on the difference in attitudes between the Palestinians and Israelis: “Palestinians I have met over the years, all of them victims of the occupation, speak about their dream of living together in peace while the majority of Israelis dream of ‘the separation’.”

Herein lies the problem for both Israelis and Palestinians. If the Israelis dream of “the separation” they anticipate the elimination of all but Jews from Palestine.

Many of these Israelis still have illusions of eliminating Palestinians by forcing them out of both Gaza and the West Bank and into refugee camps in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and Egypt.

Despite the talk about a two-state solution, the evidence of real Israeli intentions exists in the Apartheid Wall (meant to divide farm lands), the theft of water sources and the continued development of settlements.

On many occasions recently, Palestinians have reported unprovoked abuse by Israelis in the settlements. The government does nothing to stop this kind of behaviour; fitting only what Gideon Levy called “a dream of separation”.

On 22 February Palestine Liberation Organization Executive Committee member and lawmaker Hanan Ashrawi called on the European Union to rescue the two-state solution. “We call on European countries to translate policy into action and implement new creative initiatives to rescue the two-state solution before Israel destroys the chances for peace.”

Ashrawi’s is the voice Levy referred to as the Palestinian’s “dream of living together in peace”. Her call to the European Union to act conveys her hope that the Europeans may help the peace process where others have failed.

Meanwhile, Israel approves building over 500 settlement units.

* Paul J. Balles is a retired American university professor and freelance writer who has lived in the Middle East for many years. He’s a weekly Op-Ed columnist for the Gulf Daily News. Dr. Balles is also Editorial Consultant for Red House Marketing and a regular contributor to Bahrain This Month.

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