The charred body of Muhammad Abu Khudair — a 16-year-old from the Palestinian neighborhood of Shuafat in occupied East Jerusalem — was found early this morning shortly after his family reported that he was kidnapped.
Since news broke that his murder was likely a “revenge killing” for the three Israeli teens slain in the West Bank more than two weeks ago, mainstream media outlets are struggling to whitewash the incitement coming from the highest levels of the Israeli government and the race riots that preceded Abu Khudair’s suspected lynching.
This came on the heels of direct incitement from Israeli government officials and politicians, who have been calling for revenge following the discovery on Monday of the bodies of the three Israeli teens.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed “revenge” on behalf of “the entire Jewish people” against the “human animals” who killed the teens, adding with no evidence that “Hamas is responsible, Hamas will pay.”
On the more extreme end, former Israeli lawmaker Michael Ben-Ari released a video statement imploring Israel to “transfer the pain to the cruel enemy” by transforming “Ramadan into a month of darkness.” These sentiments were echoed by the Israeli public on social media, where calls for genocide against Palestinians are common.
Already, the murder of Abu Khudair is being celebrated, with some Israelis calling for more lynchings.
Buying the Story
The New York Times, which had completely ignored this incitement, was forced to acknowledge Israeli race riots in the wake of Abu Khudair’s murder. Still, the Times’Jerusalem bureau chief Jodi Rudoren and co-author Isabel Kershner made sure to bury the story, waiting until the nineteenth paragraph to mention violent protests.
Offering few details, Rudoren and Kershner write:
As the funerals [of three slain Israeli teens] were underway, hundreds of extreme-right protesters gathered in Jerusalem demanding that the government avenge the deaths. Chanting “Death to Arabs,” they tried to attack Arab passers-by who had to be extricated by the police. More than 40 protesters were arrested.
There’s no mention of the roving gangs of Israeli youth asking dark-skinned people on the streets of Jerusalem for the time to determine, based on their accent, whether they are Arab, or the Israeli mobs storming restaurants like McDonalds looking for Palestinian workers to attack.
Instead the article focuses on quoting Israeli government officials condemning the murder and promising to carry out a full investigation.
Sadly, the Times’ style of minimizing the widespread violent hatred against Palestinians in Israeli society is par for the course in the mainstream press.
Meanwhile, the BBC quotes several Israeli officials condemning the murder and calling for calm as Israeli police investigate. Sandwiched between these calls for restraint — in contrast to the incitement prior to the discovery of the Palestinian boy’s body — is a threatening statement from Hamas: “[Israel] will pay the price for these crimes.” Once again there is no mention of the belligerent speech emanating from Israeli leaders in recent days.
Several paragraphs later, the BBC finally gives attention to the race riots but does so by quoting an Israeli who makes a false equivalence with no basis in reality (emphasis mine):
Scores of Israelis had angrily protested in Jerusalem late on Tuesday, after the funerals of the three Israeli teenagers.
Ghonit Sela, director of the Human Rights in East Jerusalem Project, told the BBC further attacks were feared.
“We saw dozens of people walking in broad daylight in the streets, yelling ‘death to Arabs’, trying to attack Arabs.
“I know my Palestinian friends today are not taking public transportation, they’re afraid of what would happen. I also know that myself and my Jewish friends would be scared to go today into a Palestinian neighbourhood.”
Equating the violent state-sponsored racism Israelis exhibit toward an occupied and defenseless people with legitimate Palestinian anger at Israel is absurd. It’s even more absurd to complain that Israelis are unsafe in Palestinian neighborhoods their government is colonizing, where Jewish settlers are free to attack Palestinians with the protection and encouragement of Israeli occupation forces. If anything, it is Palestinians who are unsafe in their own neighborhoods as they struggle under the boot of an aggressive colonial regime.
Reuters made a similarly ludicrous comparison.
After noting that “several hundreds Israeli demonstrators, some chanting ‘Death to Arabs,’ blocked the main entrance to Jerusalem” yesterday, Reuters adds:
Cries for revenge have echoed throughout the decades-old Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
They can be heard at the emotionally charged funerals of Palestinians killed by Israel, and the phrase “May God avenge his death” is often invoked at the burials of Israelis slain by Palestinians.
Painting Palestinians and Israelis as equally vengeful erases the disproportionate violence Israeli settler colonialism and apartheid have inflicted on Palestinians.
the score is not close