Is Equal Justice Just A Myth?

Sixteen-year-old Muhammed Abu Khdeir was snatched from an East Jerusalem street by three young Israeli men who beat him severely and then burned him alive. 

The murder was one of the sparks that led to the 20124 Gaza war.  Two of the young Jews, who were minors at the time of the attack, were convicted last year and are now up for sentencing.  Prosecutors are asking for two life sentences.  The third man, the purported leader of the assault, has pleaded innocent by reason of mental illness.

If the victim had been Jewish and the assailants Palestinian, few doubt that in addition to life sentences Israeli authorities would have already destroyed the homes of their families. Now the father of the murdered teen, Hussein Abu Khdeir wants the court to meet out the same treatment for the Jewish killers' families, reported the Times of Israel.

 “I ask that you give them the harshest punishment, demolish their homes, just as they do for Arabs,” he said in court, according to Channel 10.

He suggested the fatal firebombing of the West Bank village of Duma by Jewish extremists last summer might have been prevented if the criminals believed their families might lose their homes as well. Right-wing Jewish terrorist Amiram Ben-Uliel, 21, a West Bank settler, was charged in the murder of three members of the Dawabsha family, an infant and his parents; another child was severely injured.

"Light sentences encourage them to commit these sorts of attacks,” Abu Khdeir said referring to the treatment usually given to Jewish terrorists.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon have said the firebombing and the deaths were the work of "Jewish terrorists." Netanyahu dismissed the killers as "extreme and marginal, and [they] certainly don't represent religious Zionism."

Arutz Sheva, the news service of the religious Zionists and settlers, has suggested that Ben-Uliel was being "framed" and the firebombing "may have been an inside job committed by feuding residents of the Arab village." 

Too often the settler movement simply turns a blind eye to the violent gangs like the Hilltop Youth and other Jewish extremists, brushing aside their actions as simple vandalism by "fringe groups" of impetuous youth angered by something the Palestinians have done.

Indeed, that will be a test for Netanyahu and for Israel. Is there equal justice for all, regardless of ethnicity? 

Netanyahu sees settlers, nationalists and Religious Zionists as his core constituents and has been reluctant to crack down on the extremists, creating what one Israeli human rights leader called "a climate of impunity with the settlers."

Ben-Uliel is part of a movement called The Revolt, according to the Shin Bet, Israel's FBI equivalent, that wants to overthrow the elected government by fomenting war with the Arabs, driving out all non-Jews and establishing a Jewish monarchy that will rebuild the Temple and follow strict halachic law, a Jewish version of an Islamic republic. 

I am not oblivious to Arab terrorism and I am well aware it is more extensive and more deadly than Jewish terrorism, and that it often has the tacit approval on the Arab street, and even the president of the Palestinian Authority.  But downplaying the extent of Jewish terror, as Netanyahu does, is foolish and dangerous.

At a time when the nation needs leadership and healing, this prime minister seems capable only of offering more incitement and racism, guaranteeing more violence and misery for Jews and Arabs alike. 

About the Author
Douglas M. Bloomfield is a syndicated columnist, Washington lobbyist and consultant. He spent nine years as the legislative director and chief lobbyist for AIPAC.