Israelis, Palestinians, and people around the world were rightly shocked, sickened, and frankly disgusted at the incineration of Ali Dawabsha at the hands of Jewish extremists. However, it is important to remember that this act of terror-involving a house being firebombed-did not happen in a vacuum. While apologists for the Israeli right-wing would love to pat Netanyahu on the back for condemning this incident as Jewish terror, this sentiment would completely ignore the context of this tragedy happening in the midst of Israeli apartheid policy in the West Bank.
Israel has set up a system in the West Bank where Jewish settlers, aided and even subsidized by the Israeli government, are treated as superior to the Palestinians in the West Bank. Israeli soldiers in the West Bank are often put into a precarious position with the government telling them to separate Jews and Arabs and to look at Palestinians as subhuman.
One example of Palestinians being treated as subhumans in the West Bank is the threat of Israel knocking down the Palestinian village of Susiya in the West Bank. And while the government is now reconsidering its decision, the threat still remains that Susiya could be destroyed despite documentation proving that the Palestinians living in Susiya had legal rights there going back at least to the Ottoman era. Furthermore, the mentality of Jews being superior to Arabs expressed in Israeli policy and rhetoric extends beyond policy in the West Bank.
During Operation Protective Edge, Israel dismissed the deaths of countless Palestinian civilians killed during that war as an unfortunate result of Hamas using human shields and firing indiscriminate rocket fire. This line of thinking is outrageous, considering that Israel had an Iron Dome Defense system which intercepted the vast majority of missiles and the low fatality rate from Hamas missiles. While it is understandable that some Israelis, especially those tragically exposed to rocket fire from Palestinian militants, would feel the need for Israel to engage in the type of war it did last summer, it is up to the government to put these sentiments in check through responsible leadership.
It is up to the government to negotiate an end to the siege in Gaza and to the end of the Occupation. It is up to the government to engage in unilateral measures to ease the occupation in order to make a final peace deal with the Palestinians more feasible. Israel needs to immediately end and reverse subsidies that rewards living in settlements. Israel needs to immediately evacuate all settlements not authorized by Israeli authorities and all isolated settlements as soon as possible. Israel should slowly evacuate non-isolated settlements. Israel should immediately ban any more people from going into the settlements from Israel proper and limit transfer between settlements. Palestinians should immediately be able to move into all settlements.
All checkpoints in the West Bank should be shut down, and the wall separating Israel from the West Bank should torn down. Freedom of movement should be allowed between Israel proper and the West Bank. Freedom of movement between Gaza and the West Bank should be allowed. Freedom of movement between Israel and Gaza should be negotiated with security guarantees. All Palestinians in Israeli prison should be granted a retrial or released. Those granted a retrial should be tried in non-military courts.
Israel, with support from the EU and US needs to massively invest in the Palestinian economy, both in Gaza and the West Bank. There needs to be a massive education push in Israel and Palestine to teach populations in both areas to learn to love and not hate each other.
In order for this to happen, the current Israeli coalition must fall apart, and new elections must be called. Ideally (and not realistically), it would be a leftist coalition led by Meretz, joined by the Zionist Union and the Joint Arab List. However, the best we can hope for is a left-center government led by the Zionist Union joined by Meretz, Yesh Atid, Kulanu, and the Join Arab List. New elections in the Palestinian territories must be called immediately. There needs to be a joint government which governs both the West Bank and Gaza. Hopefully moderates would win that election.
I write this not to condemn Zionism but rather to draw attention to the fact that it is largely Israeli policies which have led to this incident. It is up to the Israeli people to choose which path they want to take. Will it be that of more apartheid and oppression or that of human rights?