The daily stabbings in Israel have had a serious impact on the local population. Everywhere, fear is palpable. People are afraid of being stabbed from behind or run over at the bus stop. In Jerusalem, every young Arab or covered Arab woman is seen as a potential threat.
Yes, Israelis are on edge. But that didn’t stop Israelis from doing some shock-induced soul searching after a young man from Eritrea (pictured) was mistakenly identified as a terrorist and lynched by an angry mob.
“This is strictly forbidden,” admonished Rabbi Ratzon Arussi, chief rabbi of the Tel Aviv suburb of Kiryat Ono. “This is not the way of the Torah. Even if our enemy behaves worse than an animal and is himself already dead, we are obligated to honor his body, for he was created in the image of God.”
Israel’s media has been full of heated debate over the Beersheva lynch. “Only because of his skin color,” screamed a front page headline in Yediot Ahronot.
Israeli politicians have been lamenting video footage of the incident.
“It’s just awful what is happening,” said opposition leader Isaac Herzog. “We must be careful not to allow the fear, anger and frustration that these terrorist attacks create to break our soul.”
Ofer Shelah of the centrist Yesh Atid party said he was deeply ashamed by the behavior of those caught on film attacking the innocent African, while Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed to bring to justice all those involved.
In a related case, Tel Aviv district judge Shamai Becker ordered the police to hunt down an Israeli caught on video kicking the head of a suspected female Palestinian terrorist who had already been subdued. “We have become just like Sodom and Gomorrah,” said the judge. “Even if it were a terrorist, it is unacceptable for Israelis to kick that person in the head when she is no longer a threat.”
The Palestinian girl in question had indeed assaulted someone, but was later determined to be mentally ill and not an armed terrorist.
On local WhatsApp groups videos have been shared showing enraged Israelis at the scenes of very real attacks either cursing or beating terrorists who had already been neutralized. The videos also show an overwhelmed police force doing its best to keep the angry crowd away from the subdued or dead terrorists.
The panic and anger currently bubbling up in so many Israelis becomes evident in such situations. But such reactions are rejected and condemned by the majority of Israelis, as is evident in local media coverage in the past several days.