Haftom Zarhum, a 29-year-old Eritrean, was lynched by Jewish Israelis simply because he looked different. After being shot in the legs, a mob circled him like hyenas over a bleeding prey throwing a bench over his head and chanting the unofficial Zionist’s anthem of hate: “Death to Arabs, Arabs out!” and “Am Israel Hai”.
Disowning culpability and playing the traditional victim, Israeli foreign ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nashon blamed the incident on the “terrible situation we are in.”
At a similar scene, a week earlier, a video showed a despondent Palestinian child lying in a pool of blood. A puzzled appearance engulfed the child’s face as he gazed at a Jewish racist who was screaming “Die, you son of a whore, die.”
Had Mr Zarhum been an innocent Palestinian bystander, it would have been a different story. Of the approximately 50 Palestinians, who were murdered by the Israeli army, police or Jewish vigilante in the last three weeks, at least 20 were allegedly threatening Israeli life.
Resisting occupation, by all means, is a right guaranteed by international conventions. Hence, there were instances when desperate Palestinians using basic home tools confronted occupying Israeli soldiers or armed Jewish settlers. But certainly, it wasn’t in all 20 cases.
It was definitely not in the case of the slain Jew that Israeli soldiers suspected for a Palestinian. Emergency response organisation chairman Yehuda Meshi-Zahav Zaka said, “At first it appeared he was like all others. When I was asked to deal with the body, I realised that he was a Jew, and that he was mistaken for a terrorist (Palestinian).”
That is why Mr Zarhum’s life had no value. The murderers rightly assumed their actions “like all others,” had no consequences. It was proven more than 20 times in the preceding three weeks when Jewish killers walked free as heroes.
Israel has two systems of justice. It demolishes homes and revokes “Israeli” citizenship of Palestinians accused of violence. But Jewish terrorists, arrested for burning alive a Palestinian child last year, are celebrated as heroes and continue to own government subsidised homes in Jewish colonies.
It was discovered that Mr Zarhum – who looked more African than a typical Palestinian – was from Eritrea when someone found his Israeli-issued visa and shouted “he’s Eritrean, he is not a terrorist (Palestinian).” It was already too late to stop the hyenas’ insatiable thirst for blood.
Life in Israel is either Jewish or goyim. It’s been established that taking a non-Jewish life is inconsequential. Israel newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth reported in 2013 that Economy and Trade Minister Naftali Bennett boasted, “I have killed lots of Arabs (Palestinians) in my life – and there is no problem with that.”
As for immigrants, two years ago Israeli Culture Minister Miri Regev called Africans a “cancer in Israel’s body.” She was not alone.
Following a wave of anti-African demonstrations in Tel Aviv, a poll conducted by the Israel Democracy Institute in 2013 found that 52 per cent of Jews agree with Regev that blacks living in Israel are “a cancer”.
As to excuse something like Zarhum’s murder, one third of Israelis in that poll agreed, “that unlawful, vigilante violence against non-Jewish African Immigrants is fine with them.” A whopping majority of Jewish Israelis, 83 per cent, supported anti-African protests.
Screaming at an injured Palestinian child soaked in blood, a racist mob lynching Zarhum, or killing a Jew who was mistaken for a Palestinian were further manifestations of Israel’s culture of hate. It was espoused by no less than Israeli minister of culture, and supported by the majority of Israelis.
Hate crimes against the African immigrant by a Jewish mob or the Jew, who was thought to be a Palestinian, were not an exception. The only exception is that they were not just numbers to be added to the more than 50 murdered Palestinians.
Jamal Kanj writes a regular newspaper column and publishes on several websites on Arab world issues. He is the author of “Children of Catastrophe,” Journey from a Palestinian Refugee Camp to America. A version of this article was first published by the Gulf Daily News newspaper.