Time for another round of a dispiriting little game I call “Swap The Nouns.”
Last August, dozens of Israeli Jews attacked Palestinians in Jerusalem while “hundreds of people watched… without helping the victims,” according to a police representative. Sergeant First Class Shmuel Shenhav called the incident as “a lynch,” and described the condition of one of the victims in stark terms: "[Jamal Julani] lost his consciousness and was thought to be dead,” he told Haaretz. “He was anesthetized and on a respirator in the hospital for days. This was an extremely severe crime. Only a miracle saved him from death."Ultimately, seven people were arrested and charged in the wake of those events, three of them minors. On Monday, the minors learned their fate:
The Jerusalem District Court on Monday sentenced three Jewish minors to between one to eight months in prison after finding them guilty in a series of racially motivated attacks against Arabs last summer in the center of the city.Jamal Julani, then 17, a resident of East Jerusalem, was beaten the most severely. Defendant No. 1, who was 16 years old at the time, kicked Julani in the abdomen after he had fallen to the ground, said Zaban.… During the trial, it emerged that Julani has not fully recovered and is still under neurological and psychological care.
Now, in light of the above, consider the following story about Palestinian protesters arrested by the military:
The IDF… will hold its first hearing [on Tuesday] in the trial of Nariman Tamimi and Rana Hamadah, two Palestinian women who were arrested on Friday, June 28 at the weekly demonstration against the occupation in Nabi Saleh.The two women were held in Sharon Prison, in Israel, for more than three days before being brought before a military judge and indicted for entering a “closed military zone.”…Hamadah told +972 that during her arrest she asked the IDF soldier why she was being handcuffed, to which he replied: “Because I feel like it.” Hamadah said the pair were left handcuffed and blindfolded for nine hours, and were driven around in a vehicle with two male soldiers for seven more hours before being booked in Sharon Prison.… Two military judges who watched video footage of the women’s arrest stated that they found no evidence of violent or menacing behavior on their part.
It’s true that these reports discuss very different events, at very different stages of very different legal processes. The first describes the outcome of criminal proceedings in the wake of racist violence; the second, the early stages of the prosecution of nonviolent protestors under military law.
But let’s play Swap The Nouns! What if the attackers in the first story had been Palestinian-Israelis, their victims Jews? What if the protesters in the second had been Jews, and the security forces Palestinian?
What kind of sentences would Palestinian-Israelis receive in Jerusalem’s District Court, and how would the world respond to the Palestinian Authority picking up a couple of (female) Israeli protesters, abusing them, and putting them on trial for exercising their universal rights to assemble and protest? “It was the first time they didn’t beat us while we were arrested,” Nariman Tamimi later reported.
As luck would have it, another incident has come to light in which we’ll be able to watch these disparities play out in real-time: Over the weekend, Jewish assailants targeted a Jerusalem restaurant for its practice of hiring Palestinian employees.
On Friday, attackers threw stones at customers, and on Saturday, the words “Death to Arabs” appeared on the restaurant’s door. According to manager Maor Ventura, it wasn’t the first time his restaurant was so targeted:
Approximately two months ago, on a Friday evening, a group of about eight to 10 religious guys came to the area, as our cooks, mostly Arabs, were sitting outside. One of the teens realized the cook was an Arab and started to curse at him. The cook asked them to leave and then they started to beat him as they were crying out 'Death to Arabs.'When we tried to break the fight, but they attacked us too, and vowed to take revenge on us for hiring Arabs.… The restaurant's employees said that police were called in at every incident but that each time officers arrived after the assailants had left the scene.
According to the Israeli government, such acts of violence shouldn’t be designated “terrorism,” because doing so “would blur the lines between these extremists, on the one hand, and serious organized terror groups, such as Hamas or Hezbollah, on the other.”
Huh. I wonder what they’d call it if that same restaurant had been attacked by a handful of Palestinian guys.