Knives and rebellion at a West Bank wedding
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Hebrew media review

Knives and rebellion at a West Bank wedding

Mainstream Israel is horrified by images of far-right celebrators stabbing a photo of a murdered Palestinian baby, and the media wonders how to stop the incitement

Adiv Sterman is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

A far-right Israeli wedding-goer celebrates the murder of the Dawabsha family (screen capture: Channel 10)
A far-right Israeli wedding-goer celebrates the murder of the Dawabsha family (screen capture: Channel 10)

The shock waves produced by the footage of dozens of guests at a far-right wedding dancing with rifles, knives and firebombs, while some torch and stab a photo of 18-month-old Ali Dawabsha, who was burned to death in the July 31 attack in the West Bank village of Duma, continue to send uncomfortable ripples throughout Israeli society and capture the headlines of the Hebrew language media’s main papers.

Yedioth Ahronoth leads with a large still taken from the video — which was originally screened by Channel 10 on Wednesday, followed by the airing of a longer version of the clip by Channel 2 on Thursday — labeling the footage as the “hupa and the shame.” The paper points out that Bentzi Gopstein, leader of the far-right Lehava organization, and Itamar Ben Gvir, the attorney for the Duma firebombing suspects, were both present at the wedding, and apparently did not so much as think to call to halt the celebrations of the murders.

Yedioth’s leading analysts spare no words in describing the worrying phenomena, with Nahum Barnea allegorically warning that the “house is ablaze.” Ben Dror Yemini calls the revelers at the wedding “the enemy from within” and Sima Kadmon goes as far as attributing “Islamic State-like attributes” to the far-right activists celebrating the torching of the Palestinian family.

“It is time for us to wake up,” Kadmon pleads to the Israeli public. “The horror that is taking place among us will not disappear, it will only worsen.”

Kadmon accuses religious Zionism in its entirety — with an emphasis on right-wing rabbis pushing for the establishment of ever more Jewish settlements beyond the Green Line — for the emergence of extremist sentiments upon the hilltops of the West Bank’s outposts.

“This lawless group that we have seen in the video, with the weapons and the knife lodged into the photo of the burnt Palestinian baby, just stretched the borders of their parents’ obedience [to the laws of the state] one step further,” she writes.

According to Channel 10, many of the wedding-goers belong to a group calling itself “The Rebellion,” which advocates the toppling of the Israeli state and its replacement by a Jewish monarchy. The group also reportedly supports expelling non-Jews from the land.

Israel Hayom dedicates a smaller part of its weekend paper to the “blood wedding,” as some in the media have begun to call the event, reporting that the police and the army have launched an investigation in order to determine how the weapons ended up in the hands of the celebrators, and whether any IDF soldiers were present at the hall.

But the popular Israeli daily is more concerned with the fear of a massive outbreak of swine flu across the country, after one person died of complications related to the sickness, and at least 16 more were hospitalized with symptoms of the disease; 11 of whom are considered in serious condition. “The Health Ministry calls: ‘Go get vaccinated,'” the paper tells the public in big, bold letters.

In Haaretz, the lead story deals with outgoing Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein’s final directives before leaving his position in several weeks. Haaretz reporter Gidi Weitz says that Weinstein will most likely decide to close an investigation into former prime minister Ehud Barak’s suspicious receival of funds from a government-owned corporation in Azerbaijan. Weitz adds that the investigation into Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s wife Sara over suspected ethical violations at the Prime Minister’s Residence will most probably be ordered by Weinstein ahead of his departure.

Haaretz also reports that the Ministerial Committee on Legislation is scheduled to approve controversial legislation requiring representatives of NGOs funded in any capacity by foreign states to wear labeling tags upon entry to the Knesset. The law, spearheaded by Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked of the Jewish Home party, will mostly affect left-leaning organizations, as right-wing groups tend to receive funds from private donors abroad rather than from foreign governments. Over the past weeks, Kulanu ministers have attempted to assure an amendment to the legislation which would apply the law to all NGOs receiving outside funding, regardless of the identities of the donors, but nevertheless, the center-right party will most likely vote in favor of Shaked’s original proposal if no alternative is agreed upon by Sunday.

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