Lies, paranoia and superstitions
Op-ed: Before complaining about the incitement and falsehood culture on the Palestinian side, we should take a look at what's happening on our own side.
At the mourners' tent in Jabel Mukaber,
in the backyard of the murderers' family, I conducted a collective interview.
The conversation reached the topic of one Yusuf Hassan al-Ramouni,
a driver of the Egged bus company who was found dead inside his bus. An autopsy of the body at the Abu Kabir Forensic Institute confirmed that the man had killed himself.
"No," the men around me said in chorus. "That's impossible. People here don't commit suicide."
What do you mean people don't commit suicide? I asked.
One of them volunteered to explain it to me: "A person with madness in his head goes to a mosque," he said. "He puts his head on the floor to pray, and all the madness comes out of his head."
How is that possible? I asked.
"Earthing," he said. I thought he was kidding, but no one laughed. On the contrary, they all nodded. The men in Jabel Mukaber know a lot about electricity: They are responsible for half of the power connections in Jewish homes in Jerusalem. If one of them says earthing – circuitry which connects parts of the electric circuit with the ground – he knows what he's talking about.
The speaker bowed his head under the chair, in order to illustrate how it works. "Yes," he said. "Earthing. The madness goes to the mosque and that's it. There is no madness."
I didn’t argue. The just shall live by his faith; even the unjust, as far as I am concerned.
Yet we are seeing the tip of an alarming, almost hopeless, phenomenon here: No one believes what official sources say anymore. If a Palestinian is found dead, it means Jews killed him. the Jewish pathologist is lying, because he's Jewish; the Arab pathologist keeps quiet because he is a collaborator. We only believe in what we want to believe.
Sign against employment of Arabs in haredi neighborhood. 'The racist discourse is flourishing on all websites in all its ugliness, in full force' (Photo: Shlomi Cohen)
This isn't a case of skepticism or suspicion. This is a case of deep, fundamental mistrust, which cannot be refuted; this is a case of collective paranoia: There was never a temple on the mountain in Jerusalem's Old City, only a site sacred to Islam, the holiest site, Al-Aqsa, which the swindler Jews are trying to steal; the police enter the mosque in their shoes not in order to curb the firecracker and stone throwers, but in order to desecrate its holiness. They have changed the status quo with their shoes.
This malicious rumor, which was broadcast on one of the Arabic-language radio stations, was likely the motive for the latest run-over attack
at Jerusalem's Light Rail station.
Before we complain about the incitement on the Palestinian street, the falsehood culture, the sick suspicion and the superstitions, we should take a short look at our own side.
The first point: Incitement. An ultra-Orthodox Knesset member, who regularly listens to haredi radio stations and reads haredi websites, told me he was amazed at what he heard and read after the massacre at the synagogue in Jerusalem's Har Nof neighborhood.
He says that calls to kill every Arab and the use of downcast animals like donkeys and dogs to describe anyone who believes in Islam were encourages by the hosts of different programs. The haredi sector is not alone, of course: The racist discourse
is flourishing on all websites in all its ugliness, in full force.
The second point: The falsehood culture. At least twice a day, excluding Shabbat, the Prime Minister's Office issues a statement to the public praising Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's actions. Some of these statements suffer from false glorification, some are misleading, and some are untrue.
The prime minister should reread the things he said Sunday at the start of the cabinet meeting, which his office distributed to the public. He solemnly declared a series of laws which he hopes will never be approved. The proposed laws include collective punishment against incitement suspects and their family members. This is the second version of a previous package which was declared and faded away. This package, if it is ever approved, will also send us flying to the International Criminal Court in The Hague. New Interior Minister Gilad Erdan had yet to understand what just landed on his head, but he will learn.
The second declaration had to do with the Jewish nation-state law.
In his declaration, Netanyahu confused David Ben-Gurion with Ze'ev Jabotinsky, added Theodor Herzl and his own father to the mixture – the older he gets the less knowledgeable he becomes in history – and failed to explain only one thing: What will this law give the Jewish nationality, Israel's citizens and even the right-wing bloc? One again, the propaganda minister defeated the prime minister.
He can only hope that a responsible adult, in the form of the attorney general or High Court of Justice, will arrive later on and elegantly throw these arrogant laws into the dustbin.
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