By Jamil Khader
The savage and irrational lynching of Mohammad Abu Khdeir marks a new troubling trend in the radicalization of Israeli Jewish society. The seventeen year old Palestinian teenager was abducted on his way to the dawn prayers, brutally beaten up, forced to drink gasoline, and was incinerated alive by members of La Familia, a terrorist Jewish mafia affiliated with the racist and extremist Jewish soccer club, Bietar Jerusalem.
As the cracks in the edifice of the apartheid Israeli state become more visible under the pressure of international condemnation, state power seems to be shifting into the hands of Jewish terrorist groups,vigilantes, and mobs. Up till now, the apartheid Israeli state repressive apparatus has provided the security and protection these Ziofascist terrorists needed to continue their campaign of terror against the Palestinians. For these Ziofascist terrorist groups, the hegemonic structures of apartheid control, occupation, colonization, and warehousing that have been used to mediate between the exclusive Jewish state and the occupied Palestinians, can no longer manage racial relations in accordance with their nationalistic Zionist ideology, prompting them to take matters into their own hands.
Hence, Ziofascist terrorist groups are more willing now to take the law into their hands, in order to make up for the perceived inability of the Netanyahu government to maintain their repression campaign of the Palestinians. They are also unhappy about the speed and inefficiency in which the Netanyahu government is failing to realize their dreams of Greater Israel.
Ziofascist violence is not an aberration in the apartheid Israeli state but a constitutive part of the immoral and illegal apartheid Israeli state itself. Ziofascist terrorist attacks on Palestinian children, including abduction, running over, and lynching, could only happen in a context in which there is a systematic war going on in the apartheid Israeli state against Palestinian children. But by taking matters into their hands, Ziofascist are creating a lynching culture that has taken private and communal forms of extra-legal violence.
In the most recent Israeli “Jerusalem Day” celebrations, for example, this lynching culture assumed a clear ritualistic and festive communal character akin to the public spectacles (or picnics) common in the American South. A Palestinian commentator, passing into the middle of a “Jewish supremacist hate-fest,” describes the mood of a mob “drunk with power and capable of inflicting the worst against “the other” – the Palestinians.” In fact, he soon realizes that this Ziofascist mob, which comes from all walks of life in the apartheid Israeli state, was playing a game, “‘spot the Arab’ game – if one Arab was seen, a call was made to the crowd and the mobs moved to charge against the person, with no reaction whatsoever from the Israeli forces.”
Jerusalem Day turned out to be nothing more than a Ziofascist venue for maintaining collective Jewish supremacy over the Palestinians through an orchestrated campaign of terror and intimidation under the protection of the Israeli army and border police. In a culture that views Palestinians as sub-humans and animals, who are “uncompassionate by nature,” murdering Palestinians and Arabs becomes, as the authors of the racist book “Torat Ha’Melech,” or “The King’s Torah,” a religious duty. The authors of this book, Rabbi Yitzhak Shapira and Rabbi Yosef Elitzur, maintain that Jewish law justifies “killing babies if it is clear that they will grow up to harm us, and in such a situation they may be harmed deliberately, and not only during combat with adults.”
It is a miracle that this spectacle of Ziofascist power did not end with the death of Palestinian passers-by, even though Palestinians were caught on camera barely escaping these vicious vigilante mobs. However, the recent barbaric lynching that claimed Mohammad Abu Khdeir’s life exposes the existential threat that racialized forms of extra-legal violence pose for Palestinians in the only democracy in the Middle East. These interpersonal forms of violence assert the power and prowess of sociopathic private citizens over individual Palestinians that are, nonetheless, invested in national symbolism. The apartheid Israeli society is slipping into a primitive stage, in which Ziofascist terrorists, vigilantes, and mobs renew their covenant with their god, as the “chosen people”—to use Menachem Begin’s words, the “master race” and “divine gods on this planet,” and their bonds with other co-nationals through human sacrifice.
It is not surprising, then, that these sadistic Ziofascist terrorist acts are packaged in religious rhetoric. Much like in apartheid South Africa and the American Jim Crow regimes of racial terror, religious discourse has been used to sanctify these terrorist acts and the regimes of racial violence that they represent. In particular, pathological Islamophobia plays a major role in the formation of this culture of racialized violence in the apartheid Israeli state. In both private and public forms of lynching, mobs have been reported to chant not only “death to Arabs,” but also “Mohammad is dead,” in reference to the prophet Mohammad.
This religious rhetoric also betrays the sexual anxieties that Ziofascists have about their own virility and masculinity as well as the Palestinians’ alleged excessive hypersexuality. Calling for revenging the murder of three Israeli teens, Rabbi Noam Perel, the secretary general of the World Bnei Akiva youth movement, wrote: “The government of Israel is convening for a revenge hearing which is not about mourning, the master of the house has gone crazy at the sight of the corpses of its sons, a government which will turn the army that was searching into vengeful soldiers, soldiers that will not stop at 300 Philistine foreskins.” The biblical myth, according to which the future King David brought back 200 foreskins of the ancient Philistines he murdered, is used here to reassert Jewish sexual and political supremacy. Modern Ziofascist forms of lynching replicate the ancient barbaric war rituals that negate and dehumanize the Palestinian male Other through castration and emasculation.
Mohammad’s barbaric and savage lynching will unlikely incite a Third Intifada. The objective political, cultural, and social conditions on the ground in the occupied territories and the Gaza strip preclude the eruption of such a revolutionary event. Nonetheless, Mohammad’s tragic death has managed to mobilize the Palestinian people all over historical Palestine in a way that even the daily violations of the sanctity of Al-Aqsa Mosque have not.
Mohammad’s tragic death will inadvertently provide the Palestinian struggle with a much needed and undivsive universal symbol, around which the hearts and minds of people all over the world can be aligned. Mohammad has become Palestine’s Emmit Till, the fourteen-year African-American teenager whose brutal murder is considered to be the spark of the civil rights movement in the US, at least in Mississippi.
Mohammad will become a “sacrificial lamb,” making it possible for the world to identify with the humanity and the suffering of the Palestinians. It will generate a new wave of international solidarity campaigns, intensifying the BDS movement and other forms of non-violent resistance to the Israeli apartheid state and Zionist settler colonial project around the world.
– Dr. Jamil Khader is Professor of English and the Director of the Gender Studies Program at Stetson University. He is also the author of Cartographies of Transnationalism in Postcolonial Feminisms: Geography, Culture, Identity, Politics (Lexington Books 2012) and the co-editor, with Molly Rothenberg, of a collection of essays on the Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Žižek, entitled, Žižek Now: Current Perspectives in Žižek Studies (Polity 2013). His political commentary has been featured on Aljazeera in English, Jadaliyya, The Palestine Chronicle, and other venues. He is currently completing a year-long Fulbright Fellowship at Bir Zeit University, Palestine. He contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com.