In the wake of the horrific murder of little Ali Saad Dawabsha, the 18 month old Palestinian toddler who died in an arson attack, there has been an outpouring of sadness as well as hostility towards certain sectors in Israeli society.
But there’s also been an assumption that Jewish extremists were responsible for this murder. Now, it’s possible of course that Jewish extremists did commit this crime, but it’s also equally possible that there may have been a dispute between two Palestinian families. The reality is that at present – no one actually knows.
But that hasn’t stopped the rush to judgement, which has been as swift as a late March chamsin flowing through the Judean desert. But if we look through the history of the conflict between the Israelis and the Palestinians, we’d see there have been many of these rushes to judgements.
In September 2000, 12 year old Muhmmad al-Durrah was killed in a violent clash between Israeli soldiers and Palestinian security forces. At the time, the Israeli soldiers were blamed for his death and the IDF itself accepted responsibility. However this admission was retracted by the Israelis in 2007 after mounting evidence and investigation showed that the bullets could not have come from the Israeli soldiers’ position. Of course, by that stage it hardly mattered. The damage was done – and the narrative of Israel having killed a scared, little 12-year old boy – irrespective of any contrary evidence that would be presented afterwards – would stand.
And in April 2002, Saeb Erekat, Palestinian Chief Negotiator accused Israel of committing a massacre in Jenin. And the world media jumped onto it, their lips salivating at the prospect of Israel being portrayed in such a negative light. But, as it turns out, it was another false accusation. Just as the accusation of genocide was against Israel by Mahmoud Abbas at the United Nations last year.
And what about when a picture of a bloodied man with an Israeli policeman behind him appeared in the New York times in 2000 with the caption: Israeli policeman and a Palestinian on the Temple Mount. However, in reality it was a picture of an American Jew, Tuvia Grossman, being rescued by Israeli police after being beaten up by an Arab mob.
And in these incidents, as well as the many others over the years, did discovering the truth afterwards really make all that difference? Or was it the accusations that people remember…
Wise men say only fools rush in, according to Elvis Presley all the years ago. And that’s a truth that remains today. Because true wisdom is not derived from saying what you think you know, but rather from admitting that which you don’t know.
Israel is a country of laws and justice and until suspects are apprehended and evidence presented as to their guilt, we don’t really know who committed this terrible crime. Ali Saad Dawabsha, a boy whose opportunity to grow up was cruelly taken, deserves justice and his family deserve to know that the people who took his life will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.