|Philip Davies is a doctoral candidate at Cambridge U.
Something monstrous occurred some time between 12 and 13 June 2014 when somewhere between the Ministry of Defence in Tel Aviv and the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem someone thought: “This is an opportunity.” Thus, what should have been a murder investigation became the deliberate manipulation of an entire nation led to believe that Eyal Yifrach, Gilad Shaar and Naftali Frenkel were alive and their rescue imminent – provided, naturally, that the government and the IDF were given free rein in the West Bank to find them before it was too late. Indeed, even the most cynical observer would not believe that the government of Benjamin Netanyahu would be so ghoulishly Machiavellian to send the mothers of the three victims to the United Nations with the knowledge that their children had in fact already been murdered.
Terribly, infuriatingly, this is what transpired. Officials from the government and the security services heard the full recording of a victim’s call to the police, including those dreadful gunshots, and knew their police forensic teams had found shell casings from the murder weapon at the scene of the crime. All these facts were censored by a gag order sanctioned by the Israeli justice system; these facts were known to many journalists and editors in the press, and yet we were made promises based on a falsehood everyday for 18 days until their bodies were discovered.
|Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
And this led to the parents of those boys being lied to, to the ghastly spectacle of politicians who, no doubt, already knew the boys were dead promising vengeance should they be hurt, to rampant incitement in Israeli society against Arabs and leftists and, ultimately, to the debacle that we are witnessing today. There could be no greater evidence of the danger Israel’s own elected and state officials pose to democracy, accountability and trust in society than the falsehood used to justify Operation Brother’s Keeper. (An apt name, for did not Cain proclaim falsely when God questioned him about the whereabouts of Abel, whom he had slain, by saying to God, “I know not; am I my brother’s keeper?”)
Sadly, someone else at sometime between 2 and 4 of July somewhere between Rafah and Gaza City had a monstrous idea of their own: “This is an opportunity.” Mohammed Abu Khdeir’s murder led to an explosion of violent rage in annexed East Jerusalem and elsewhere in the Occupied Palestinian Territories of the West Bank. This came after 20-days of a massive military operation that was born from the grotesque idea to exploit the murders of Yifrach, Shaar and Frenkel. Operation Brother’s Keeper saw mass arrests, the shooting deaths of 7 Palestinians and dozens of injured, the destruction of property, wholesale closure of cities, towns and villages, and the emptying of water wells throughout the West Bank in their name, but really for the immediate political objectives of the government of Israel. Someone in the Hamas leadership saw the eruption of pent-up rage catalyzed by Abu Khdeir’s murder, and how it spilled into Israel’s Palestinian communities over the Green Line, and thought: “This is an opportunity! We must take advantage of it.” Rocket fire increased dramatically and overtures for a ceasefire were ignored or rejected leading to the lethal situation in Gaza today.
|Jewish Home MK Ayelet Shaked
I am not concerned with the political objectives of either the Israeli leadership or that of Hamas. It is, for ordinary folk, immaterial whether Netanyahu’s exploitation of the murders of Yifrach, Frenkel and Shaar was in fact a brilliant maneuver to batter Hamas in the West Bank, as some of the ghouls in the press have intoned in their confident baritone voices. Or, that Hamas’ strategy is rational because of their eroded political position within the Palestinian polity since the coup in Egypt by Field Marshal al-Sissi, as the less baritone talking-heads try to display their grasp of contorted and twisted nuance. In both cases the leaderships mirror one another, and their calculations expose a salient truth that they share: the lives of the people they preside over are expendable, exploitable, without value in their own right.
A government that valued the lives, the welfare and dignity of its citizens, would not so cynically exploit such an awful murder, the anguish of the victims’ mothers – clutching onto the belief that their beloved children are alive – for political objectives. Such behaviour is rightfully unconscionable, cannibalistic in its instrumentalisation of human death, and we must squarely look at this terrible truth about our own government.
To end the cycle of violence and the ever–worsening and audacious exploitation of ordinary folk by that establishment, it becomes imperative to see past those arbitrary aspects of our humanity we have no control over (our name, skin colour, eye colour, parent’s religion) and look to that which we can have control over. Specifically, it is time to turn away from ideologies of nationalism that have not alleviated the problems of penury, job insecurity, inequality and a lack of democratic accountability and look to what all people between the Sea and the River have in common rather than their differences. In doing so, we will find that, as much as they despise each other, the ruling elites of Israel and the Palestinians have more in common with each other (like their taste for luxury), than they do with the masses of people they lord over in the name of national self-determination.
Philip Davies is a dual citizen of the United Kingdom and Israel. He is a graduate student at the University of Cambridge reading political sociology, specializing in Israeli society, politics and elections. His views are his own, offered as fodder for thought and discussion, but not as a policy statement of P.P.I.