A growing number of Israelis believe that the Duma firebombing that killed eighteen-month-old Ali Dawabshe and his father Sa’ad was carried out by Palestinians.
In the settlement of Kiryat Arba, whose Chief Rabbi Dov Lior endorsed Torat Hamelech, a book which describes when it is permissible to kill non-Jews, the conspiracy theory appears to be popular.
“There’s no proof there was an attack,” said Lior, a restaurant owner. “But everybody thinks it was Palestinians who did it.”
He believes that the murder of baby Ali was an honor killing. “It’s the same as the Abu Khdeir killing,” he said, referring to the rumor planted by Israeli police after the discovery of the Palestinian teenager’s charred body last summer.
On a poll conducted on the religious Zionist website Arutz Sheva, nearly half chose the option, “Other Palestinians – there’s something fishy about it” and more than a quarter selected “don’t know.” (Full disclosure: I had to select “don’t know” in order to see the poll results).
As investigative journalist Uri Blau reported, some Israelis are buying into conspiracy theories promoted on social media. “Now on cinema – playing in loops in TV channels – Abu Khdeir 2,” the title of one Facebook post reads.
In the settlement inside in the old city of Hebron, one soldier named Rotem I spoke to conceded that it’s probably Jews but didn’t rule out the possibility that Palestinians were responsible. “Maybe it’s fighting between [Palestinian] tribes,” he said. But he thought the Israeli authorities should ignore the Duma attack and focus on Hebron. “Instead of trying to investigate whether or not it was Arabs who did the attack, they [police] should come see the attacks on soldiers.”
When I asked Rotem why he thinks Israeli politicians condemned the attack and promised to treat on Jewish terror the same as Palestinian terror, he told me it was for the purposes of hasbara. “They say it for the [outside] world,” he replied before adding, “The whole government has a tendency to the left.”
Despite the promises of politicians like Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu and Education Minister Naftali Bennett, the soldier told me they didn’t have any orders to increase attention to settlers.
At that point, the soldier became agitated by the term “Jewish terror.”
“Stop using the term ‘Jewish terror.’ There is no Jewish terror,” Rotem said. “Remove this word from your lexicon. It doesn’t exist. They made it up for the leftist media.”
As commenter ckg pointed out, the conspiracy theory was also spread in the United States by Morton Klein, president of the Zionist Organization of America. The evidence, “raises strong suspicions that the fire last week was the continuation of an 18-year-old feud between two Arab clans in Duma” Klein wrote in an issued statement.