On Sunday, the Israeli settler Ari Fuld was stabbed by a Palestinian child of 17, Khalil Jabarin, at the entrance to a mall near the West Bank’s Gush Etzion Junction. Fuld was armed with a pistol, ran after Jabarin, and managed to shoot him. Jabarin was reportedly shot by others as well yet survived. Fuld succumbed to his wounds shortly after.
Fuld was a prominent right-wing pundit (here he is on Israeli News Talk Radio, hailing the detention at Ben Gurion airport of Peter Beinart and advocating that all leftists should be detained), and his American background helped him in reaching out to many Americans and other English speakers.
This piece could have been about so many other deaths in Palestine or Israel. It could have been about the six Palestinians who were murdered by Israeli forces a couple of days later, which PLO Executive Committee official Dr. Hanan Ashrawi strongly condemned:
“The deliberate murder of six Palestinians by Israeli forces in the last twenty-four hours is yet another escalation in the Israeli occupation’s brutality and inhumanity”, she said on Wednesday.
But who is listening? Who wants to hear about the deaths of Muhammad Zaghloul al-Khatib al-Rimawi, Muhammad Yousif Alayan, Muhammad Ahmad Abu Naji, Ahmad Muhammad Muhsin Omar, Naji Jamil Abu Assi and Alaa Ziyad Abu Assi? Nah, Ari Fuld, that’s the news.
Thus, the progressive Forward immediately offered not less than four articles to commemorate Fuld. Two of them were reports, but two of them were outright propaganda opinion pieces. The one, by former NYPD officer Micha Danzig, was titled: “Ari Fuld Was Not A ‘Settler’ — He Was An Innocent Victim Of Terror”. Here, Danzig is chiding outlets for mentioning Fuld as a ‘settler’ at all, because he’s just this innocent Jewish person living in ‘Judea and Samaria’, and the term ‘settler’ dehumanizes him:
By this logic, if a Jew lives in Judea and Samaria, then, the Jewish murder victim is not a normal human being whose life is sacred and precious. No, settlers are to be demonized and dehumanized, even in death.
The other opinion piece in Forward was by former IDF Spokesperson Peter Lerner, who mourns the death of his “friend” Ari Fuld, whom Lerner describes as “a passionate Israel advocate who believed in the historic Jewish right to live in our ancestors’ true homeland”. Lerner was even more directly admonishing. The title of his piece was “If You Can’t Mourn Ari Fuld, You Are An Accomplice In His Murder”. Lerner made the same point as Danzig, about mentioning the “settler”:
Many eulogized Ari, including at a beautiful, heartbreaking funeral attended by thousands. But some of the voices that I was confronted with on social media were extremely disturbing. One conveyed a lack of compassion for Ari because he was a “settler.”
Lerner was unequivocal in his condemnation of those who pedantically insist upon mentioning the political and colonialist paradigm that all this occurred under:
Don’t lecture me about occupation. Don’t lecture me about rights. Because in this argument of right and wrong, you are wrong.
In other words, we are ostensibly told that we need to look at this with completely universal, unbiased eyes, and mourn the death of this special, innocent Jew, who was murdered not for being a settler, God forbid, but simply for being a Jew.
We need to disregard the political realities which the assailant child, Yousef Jabarin, came from. Jabarin comes from the town of Yatta south of Al-Khalil (Hebron), and the attack took place about 10 km north of Al-Khalil. Haaretz noted that the parents had received message from the boy that he was going to carry out an attack – they in fact notified both the Israeli army and the Palestinian Authority. The location he had mentioned was the Al-Ibrahimi mosque, but he could not be located there – he went further north. Nonetheless, the family house was slated for demolition, as is standard procedure. Imagine that – you do what you can as a parent to handle the situation, but to no avail. You are still subject to collective punishment. Is it possible to perceive, that this kind of discriminatory reality affects a 17-year-old to the point of uncontrollable rage? But no, let’s not talk about that. Let’s just talk about Ari Fuld, and let’s not talk about those six dead Palestinians, because now is the time to mourn Ari Fuld.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also immediately jumped on the opportunity to promote the Israeli hasbara which Fuld was such a champion of, and Netanyahu was doing it in my name as well:
In the name of every citizen of Israel, I send my condolences to the family of Ari Fuld, who was murdered today in a terrorist attack in Gush Etzion. With his last strength, Ari fought heroically against the terrorist and prevented a greater tragedy. Ari was a wonderful father to four children. He was an advocate for Israel who fought to spread the truth about Israel. May his memory be a blessing.
That was the English version of his message. His Hebrew version had a little extension after the “truth about Israel” bit, it went: “for the good of the Israeli hasbara”. See, Netanyahu knows that some things you can say openly to the Hebrew speaking Israelis, but that it may be best to hide them from the goyim (for the good of the Israeli hasbara, of course – abroad, it’s best that hasbara is simply known as ‘truth’).
Haaretz noted that “Fuld was a member of a faction within the Habayit Hayehudi political party, a religious-Zionist political party. Fuld’s brother, Eitan, is the spokesman for MK Bezalel Smotrich from the same party”.
That’s the same Smotrich with the Apartheid “Decision Plan” ultimatum for Palestinians, where they can surrender to Apartheid or emigrate. That’s the same Smotrich who justified segregation in maternity wards because he didn’t want his wife lying next to a Palestinian woman “who just gave birth to a baby that might murder her baby in another 20 years”.
This is real fascism. If you thought Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked is bad, these guys go just a bit further.
But no, all that is not to be mentioned in the heartfelt eulogies that the Forward and other Israeli apologists provide, because it spoils the mood. Fuld was not a settler, neither was he an extreme-right fascist propagandist. No, he was just an innocent Jew.
See, here’s my difficulty. I am not writing with glee about the death of a human, be they Israeli, Palestinian, Jewish, Muslim or what have you. I would definitely want to relate to humans as humans. But when these Israeli hasbarists exploit this one death for more hasbara; when they admonish us for being insensitive, or even complicit if we do not mourn, while they obviously would not even note the deaths of those killed under that self-righteous Zionist zeal – that makes me angry, and I have to push back. They are telling me I’m being inhumane by being so focused on anything but Ari Fuld’s (Jewish) pure humanity, while Palestinians are systematically being dehumanized to death by the very ideology that Ari Fuld was championing and is being openly remembered for.
I am sorry for Ari Fuld’s death, for his family and his loved ones. But there’s a lot more to be sorry for, and those who cannot think about anyone but Ari Fuld just don’t seem to care about that.
h/t Michael Lesher