The virulent strain of hatred that infects Israel

Yossi Melman writes: This may be the era in which local gangs, incited by politicians or poisoned by anti-Arab sentiments and atmosphere, turn into vigilantes and take the law into their own hands. We have sporadically witnessed such events in the past. Israeli Jews decided to avenge the deaths of their fellow Jews at the hands of Palestinian terrorists and killed innocent Palestinians.

Yet the murder last week of Abu Khdeir is beyond imagination because of its brutality and cold-bloodedness: the burning alive of the victim.

The only consolation for the Shin Bet and the police is that the suspects are not members of any political organization or any hierarchal structure. They do not have any known track record in this area. They just participated in the past in anti-Arab demonstrations in Jerusalem, inhaled in the streets hatred and racist ideology motivated by the murder of the three Israeli teens, and decided to carry out their satanic plan.

Israelis who view the murder of Mohammed Abu Khdeir as some kind of crime of passion — the action of a group of young Jewish men who acted in the heat of the moment — are providing themselves with a false comfort.

If there was indeed no militant group behind the killing, that just goes to show how virulent is this particular strain of hatred.

This suggests that similar acts are even more likely in the future since the perpetrators can in a more meaningful sense be called ordinary Israelis, rather than exceptional fanatics.

Anshel Pfeffer writes: We would like to believe that none of us, and no one we know, could even imagine participating in such vicious acts; but we have gotten used to living in an environment where casual racism is a norm. And when casual racism is normal, the distance between normal life and hate crimes of the worst kind rapidly shrinks.

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