Tragedies are a time for soul-searching and deep reflection for some. For others, they are an opportunity to make political capital and to fan the flames of hatred.
Benjamin Netanyahu tends to fall squarely into the latter category. At a Tel Aviv bar where authorities believe a terror attack took place leaving two dead and seven wounded, the Israeli prime minister took aim at the 21 percent of Israeli citizens who identify themselves as Palestinian or Arab.
He demanded “loyalty to the state’s laws from everyone“, claiming that Arab areas of Israel were crime-ridden, lawless and radicalised enclaves. While crime is a greater problem in Arab towns and villages than in Jewish ones, this is partly due to decades of neglect by the state, which has been more concerned with the security threat Palestinians in Israel potentially pose than to the threats posed to them.
Although Netanyahu praised the swift Arab condemnation of the attack, he quickly returned to his comfort zone when he said: “We all know that there is wild incitement of radical Islam against the state of Israel within the Muslim sector.”
While incitement does occur, what Netanyahu is wilfully ignoring is that the vast majority of Palestinians in Israel are peaceful and obey the laws of a state which increasingly discriminates against them, and this despite being citizens of a country which erased their homeland and occupies their compatriots in the West Bank and Gaza.
More insidiously, while condemning incitement when committed by Palestinians, Netanyahu, in contrast to the moral courage displayed by President Reuven Rivlin, is silent about, excuses or even defends the Jewish inciters in Israel, many of whom are members of his party or coalition.