Sunday, February 10, 2008

No One Will be Charged for Killing 13 Israeli Arabs.

The lives of Arabs in Israel are cheap. We know this by the casual way in which Israel accepts "collateral damage" in its attacks on Palestinian military, political, and terrorist targets. Overall the kill rate is about 4 collateral deaths for each successful assassination.

And now we know this true not only of Palestinians in the territories, who are at fault for living close to and "likely supporting" "legitimate targets", but also regrading Israeli citizens of Arab ethnicity. In October 2000, Israeli Arabs where demonstrating against the huge casualties inflicted by Israel on the Palestinians in the first days of the 2nd intifada. (In the first four days of the Second Intifada 3 Israelis where killed - 2 soldiers in the West Bank - and and 35 Palestinians where killed! By the end of October 2000 the score was 11 Israelis - 8 soldiers - and 115 Palestinians civilians killed. There had yet to be any bombings.) Israeli Arabs demanded an end to heavy handed crackdown, and an end to the occupation. Both legitimate opinions for Israeli citizens, and opinions shared by a significant number of Israeli Jews. The demonstration turned in to a minor riot. But the Israel Police called in a heavy duty response, and 13 Israeli citizens, all Arabs where shot dead by Israeli police. None was armed.

The government formed a public inquiry commission. The Orr commission reported back in no uncertain terms that the riot was fueled in large part by years of discrimination against Israel's Arab minority, and that the police response was inappropriate, excessive and fueled in large part by racism. It recommended that charges and disciplinary actions be laid against appropriate police officers.

Since then the police have been investigating themselves. One senior officer involved in the orders to shoot has retired early. And now the police have decided to close the case. No one will be charged and no one will be disciplined.

And almost no one in Israel cares or is making a stink. Thirteen citizens shot, and no one is at fault, no one is to blame , no one will be punished. Arabs life in Israel is cheap, and Jews should not be surprised when more and more Israeli Arabs find it hard to support a "Jewish Democratic State". They have seen just how "fair" such a state can be.

Below is a statement by Givat Haviva. It is remarkable mostly for its restraint.

Givat Haviva and the Jewish-Arab Center for Peace view with much
concern the decision of the Attorney General, Mr. Meni Mazouz, to
end the investigation of police officers who were involved in the
killing of 13 Israeli Arab citizens during the events of October
2000. The decision not to charge any of those responsible for these
tragic consequences is in direct opposition to the recommendations
of the Orr Commission, encourages discrimination on an ethnic basis
and damages the essential fabric of relations between the sectors of
Israeli society, Jews and Arabs.

We view this decision as a blow against democracy and damage to the
shared moral infrastructure of Israeli society. We are worried at
the delegitimacy that this decision causes to the Arab public and
the distancing and tensions that it creates between Arabs and Jews
and between the Arab community and governmental bodies.

We call upon the decision makers, on the Arab leadership and on the
media to take upon themselves the responsibility to bring this
matter before Israeli society and to handle it in a responsible and
professional manner with no incitement or racist overtones. The
media especially must serve as a civic tool to provide service to
all citizens of the state and not to provide a stage to those who
would deny Israeli Arabs' legitimacy and citizenship. We believe
that no society can accept such an injury to its citizens without
finding those responsible and bringing them to justice - this we
will continue to pursue.

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