For years I have been complaining about the gung-ho, trigger-happy mentality of the Israeli security forces in the occupied territories of Palestine. The latest episode on Friday involving the murder of an unarmed visitor, who happens to be Jewish, once again highlights the problem.
Doron Shlus, a 46-year old Jewish visitor at Jerusalem’s Western (Wailing) Wall, the holiest Jewish site where Jews can pray, came out of public restrooms and was heard shouting ‘Allahu Akbar’, which in Arabic means – Allah (God) is Great. The security guard drew his weapon and fired several shots – and not one – at the visitor suspecting him to be a Palestinian militant. The Jewish visitor died from his wounds a few moments later.
No one knows why Doron Shlus had shouted ‘Allahu Akbar.’ The shooting took place a few minutes before 8 am (0500 GMT) as the plaza in front of the Wall was filled with worshippers for morning prayers ahead of the start of the Jewish Sabbath at sundown. Public radio quoted the private security guard as telling police investigators that he thought the man was pulling something from his pocket as he shouted and was about to attack him. It said that police found nothing suspicious on the man’s person.
Just imagine the level of paranoia, suspicion and nervousness which can lead to this kind of trigger-happy enthusiasm! Doron Shlus, the Jewish visitor, had no resemblance to a nominal Palestinian and yet he was executed as a result of a quick decision made by an Israeli Jewish security guard who considered him to be a threat to his life. So before the potential suspect who had uttered the ‘forbidden’ words – Allahu Akbar – could ‘harm’ him, the guard made sure to finish off the job with a pre-emptive strike. A single shot to the suspect’s leg or shoulder would have been enough to injure him and deter him from committing any harm. But no, the security guard wanted to be absolutely sure that his target could never harm him. So, he ended up shooting multiple times killing the suspect.
What happened with the unfortunate Jewish visitor last Friday, sadly, has been the story of Palestinian victims for decades under Israeli occupation!
The way they look, talk or sometimes dress the Palestinian people can’t hide their differences with the Jewish people inside Israel. These differences, by default, make them suspects – potential terrorists – who want to harm the Zionist state. This ‘different’ identity alone has been a sufficient justification for the zealous Israeli security forces to kill or maim their suspects whenever they felt like. Even if the suspect had done nothing suspicious, the Israeli shooters –civilians and security forces alike – could and always had the justification saying that they felt threatened from an impending attack from that Palestinian, much like what we heard from the Israeli security guard who killed the unarmed Jewish visitor on Friday.
It did not matter that Doron Shlus did not look like a typical Palestinian and was an Israeli Jew who was known to Jerusalem police at the Western Wall compound as a volunteer cook for the Chabad movement who had been coming to the site nearly every day, but he had uttered that forbidden phrase – Allahu Akbar; so he was perceived to be a Muslim Jihadist who had disguised himself as a Jewish visitor visiting the Wailing Wall of Jerusalem. Here symbolism – the utterance of Allahu Akbar – was sufficient to determine his fate! It is the perception that counted – that became the reality for Shlus.
The Shlus-shooting incident should open up a public debate about the democratic health of the Zionist state, touted by many of its blind admirers, as the best model of democracy in the world outside the USA, Western Europe, Australia and Canada. Is this the type of democracy desirable in which a man is killed simply because he is perceived to be a threat, a militant or a person of another faith or ethnicity? But that has become the unmistakable reality of Israel today. Any goyim (non-Jew) and even a Jew who sounds non-Jewish, esp. Islamic or Jihadist, can be perceived to be a threat to the security of this apartheid state, requiring elimination of that person. So, the pre-emptive strikes against the suspected terrorists and future militants have become integral to the security paranoia of the apartheid state. Such acts of targeted murders are sanctified as being kosher, let alone necessary!
Is a pre-emptive attack justified? What this Israeli security guard has done is nothing unusual: he has followed the flawed rule of engagement so meticulously codified and practiced by his security agency, mimicking the behavior of the powerful nations on earth, including his own Israeli state, to settling their disputes with others. It has a simple, albeit savage, rule: ‘kill first, ask questions later’. Of course, to ask questions, the suspect must survive or the wound should not be fatal. But in majority of the cases, so massive were the gunshots that the suspects didn’t survive to answer any question. The flawed system deliberately ignores legitimate questions like what if the suspect had no intention to kill and/or that he/she had put his/her hand in the pocket as part of his/her habit or whatever.
But the paranoid mind is always suspicious. It is programmed to think the worst of the ‘other’ people, who is relegated to a monster-like figure, which if not killed will kill you. So goes the rationale: why take the risk or chance assuming innocence of the suspect? That is the savage logic behind all these state-played mayhems – unjustifiable mass murders, genocides, ethnocide, etc. today whether it is in Myanmar, the Occupied Kashmir, Palestine, or in the frontier territories of Pakistan and Yemen where the drone attacks have become so common under Obama’s direction.
When will such obsession and paranoia end?
As I see it, dehumanization of the ‘others’ is inseparable from one’s own dehumanization. Victimizing others will eventually victimize you. To paraphrase Malcolm X: “The death of Doron Shlus was the result of a long line of violent acts, the culmination of hate and suspicion and doubt in the State of Israel. You see, that country has allowed the Israeli people to kill and brutalize those they don’t like. The killing of Shlus is a result of that way of life and thinking. The chickens came home to roost; that’s all there is to it. The State of Israel — at the death of the Shlus —just reaped what it had been sowing.”
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