Culpability and Double Standards

Culpability and Double Standards

Gilbert N. Kahn is a professor of Political Science at Kean University.

It is not the events that occurred at the wedding that matter as much as the zealotry, anger, and hate that underlie it.  Young religious Zionists, presumably from the settler movement, were pictured on a videotape dancing at the wedding this week in Jerusalem, dancing around a photo of Ali Dawabsheh, the young child who was murdered this past summer in the Duma firebombing which killed three members of the Dawabsheh family–allegedly by some of radical settler group. In the video, some of dancers were stabbing at the picture, fake shooting at them, and essentially giving approval to their murder. This type of behavior gives clear credence to one of the major underlying problems within the settler movement.

This is not a matter of any of the existential questions involving the Jewish right to the West Bank territory. In addition, no one should assume that all people living on the West Bank settlements support this type of action or behavior or that all religious Zionist are radicals. The problem is that their community leaders, their political leaders, and their rabbinic leaders, instead of being outraged and infuriated, are largely silent.

Ethical and moral education for the religious settlers comes from their rabbis. Either they agree with these young people—in all likelihood some of them may well have even been at this wedding when this dance transpired—or they are so closet away from reality that they are not interested in considering the social-political-religious consequences of their actions or their silence. While the statement released on Friday by almost 50 rabbis supporting the Shin Bet’s investigation of the Duma murders is laudable, it is also discouraging that they are supporting an investigation of an event committed five months ago.

Finally, Netanyahu has condemned the behavior at the wedding and has sought to capture the video; which has already gone viral. The problem is that he and his Government are responsible for their failure to pursue much more aggressively the unresolved Duma firebombing.  Israeli democracy will remained deeply challenged if legal, judicial, and political investigation are not carried out according in a timely, equitable pattern wherever problems arise; that’s what “equal justice under law” means.

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