Duma Murders Expose Israel’s “Mindless Violence”


By James M. Wall

Duma is a Palestinian town 25 kilometers southeast of Nablus in Northern Palestine.

It is an old town, surrounded by olive trees (above). Pottery sherds from the Hellenistic and Roman eras have been found. Southwest of the village is a spring called Ayn Duma, where water has been collected in ancient small pools, some hollowed out of rock.

Along with the rest of Palestine, Duma (also known as Douma) was incorporated into the Ottoman Empire in 1517. In the 2006 census, it had a population of 2,220 inhabitants.

Duma has been under Israel’s illegal occupation since 1967, an occupation which is constantly criticized, though never seriously deterred by the outside world.

Today there are more than 500,000 illegal settlers living in 100 illegal settlements which surround villages like Duma.

Palestinians are subject to terrorist random attacks from those settlers who are rarely punished by Israeli authorities. Hiding behind international inter-faith pretensions of neutrality, the world allows this brutal occupation to expand without hindrance.dawabshe.03

Five months have passed since July 31, 2015, when 18-month-old Ali Saad Dawabsheh, his father Sa’ad, his mother Reham, and his 4-year-old brother Ahmed, were sleeping in their beds when their Duma house was fire-bombed.

Ali died in the attack. His father Sa’ad, 32, and his mother Reham, died later from severe burns. Ahmed clings to life in Israel’s Sheba Medical Center, Tel Hashomer. (Ali and his parents are shown above.)

Ha’aretz reported the attack:

“According to witnesses, at roughly 4 A.M. Friday morning [July 31], two masked men arrived at two homes in the village of Duma, not far from the settlement of Migdalim.

“They sprayed painted graffiti reading ‘revenge’ and ‘long live the Messiah’ in Hebrew, breaking the windows of the homes and throwing two firebombs inside.”

Five months after those three murders, Israeli settler Amiram Ben-Uliel and a minor the police call A, were arrested in connection with the deaths of the three members of the Dawabsheh family.

Ha’aretz reported:

“Ben-Uliel (below) was charged Sunday with three counts of murder in connection with last July’s arson attack in Duma. He was a familiar figure in the West Bank. Until now, though, he had never been arrested on suspicion of involvement in serious violent activities.

Amiram Ben-Ulief Har“Born in July 1994, he is originally from Karmei Zur, a settlement north of Hebron. He is the eldest son of Rabbi Reuven Ben-Uliel, who is identified with mainstream religious Zionism and also serves as the rabbi for Mechina Nokdim, a preparatory program for religious youths entering the army.”

Young men like Ben-Uliel fit a pattern of radical terrorists throughout the world.. Ha’aretz notes:

“The story of Amiram Ben-Uliel is similar to that of other young Jewish extremists in the West Bank (known in Israel as “hilltop youth”). Despite coming from a stable, functional family, he left school following academic difficulties and gravitated toward extremism.

“After experiencing a few minor scrapes with the law, his views became ever more radical and his connection with his family became more distant.”

Sound familiar? This is precisely the description given to radical Islamists like the young people drawn to ISIS. 

The alleged murderers of the Dawabsheh parents and 18-month old Ali, are radical terrorists. For more on the Dawabsheh murders, see Richard Silverstein’s investigative reporting bypassing Israel’s gag orders. 

Fewer and fewer voices in Israel are willing to acknowledge their government’s role in allowing Israel’s disintegration as a moral society.

One such voice came forward in a recent essay published in the Washington Post. Assaf Gavron, an Israeli novelist and a veteran of Israel’s IDF occupation forces, is distressed over the direction Israel has taken.

“The internal discussion in Israel is more militant, threatening and intolerant than it has ever been. Talk has trended toward fundamentalism ever since the Israeli operation in Gaza in late 2008, but it has recently gone from bad to worse. There seems to be only one acceptable voice, orchestrated by the government and its spokespeople, and beamed to all corners of the country by a clan of loyal media outlets drowning out all the others.

“Those few dissenters who attempt to contradict it — to ask questions, to protest, to represent a different color from this artificial consensus — are ridiculed and patronized at best, threatened, vilified and physically attacked at worst. Israelis not ‘supporting our troops’ are seen as traitors, and newspapers asking questions about the government’s policies and actions are seen as demoralizing.”

Gavron ends with his call to action for Israel and its ardent supporters:

“The cumulative effect of this recent mindless violence is hugely disturbing. We seem to be in a fast and alarming downward swirl into a savage, unrepairable society.

“There is only one way to respond to what’s happening in Israel today:

“We must stop the occupation. Not for peace with the Palestinians or for their sake (though they have surely suffered at our hands for too long). Not for some vision of an idyllic Middle East — those arguments will never end, because neither side will ever budge, or ever be proved wrong by anything.

“No, we must stop the occupation for ourselves. So that we can look ourselves in the eyes. So that we can legitimately ask for, and receive, support from the world. So that we can return to being human.”

The way ahead is clear. Israel’s supporters in the U.S. bear as much responsible for Israel’s “mindless violence” as those who practice that violence.

We are the enablers.

The picture of Duma is from Wikipedia. The picture of Ali and his parents is from YNet.  The picture of Ben- Uliel is from Ha’aretz.


About wallwritings

From 1972 through 1999, James M. Wall was editor and publisher of the Christian Century magazine, based in Chicago, lllinois. He was a Contributing Editor of the Century from 1999 until July, 2017. He has written this blog, wall writings.me, since it was launched April 27, 2008. If you would like to receive Wall Writings alerts when new postings are added to this site, send a note, saying, Please Add Me, to jameswall8@gmail.com Biography: Journalism was Jim's undergraduate college major at Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia. He has earned two MA degrees, one from Emory, and one from the University of Chicago, both in religion. He is an ordained United Methodist clergy person. He served for two years in the US Air Force, and three additional years in the USAF reserve. While serving on active duty with the Alaskan Command, he reached the rank of first lieutenant. He has worked as a sports writer for both the Atlanta Journal and Constitution, was editor of the United Methodist magazine, Christian Advocate for ten years, and editor and publisher of the Christian Century magazine for 27 years. James M Wall died March 22, 2021 at age 92. His family appreciates all of his readers, even those who may have disagreed with his well-informed writings.
This entry was posted in Israel, Jewish faith and tradition, Judiasm, Middle East. Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Duma Murders Expose Israel’s “Mindless Violence”

  1. Thank you again for your efforts to shine the light on the evils of the occupation and the extremism of the Israeli right to insist on their way.
    I am reeling from the two hour PBS program this evening, detailing the Netanyahu war against everything Obama has stood for from the beginning of his presidency. “Netanyahu at War”. See it. Violence has been his ticket to the Prime Minister’s position. He has played the “fear” and “victim” card to the hilt.
    Imagine. On PBS. The Israeli DNA is deep in our consciousness. There is no escape. We have to show the strength of our convictions by withholding American financial and diplomatic support for this spiral into greater and greater chaos, mayhem and recrimination.

  2. AWAD PAUL SIFRI says:

    Thank you for not allowing the continued media cover up, or silence, about the latest murder of a Palestinian family, by Jewish settlers.
    It is essential that we remind the world that we do not succumb to Israeli occupation, or take it for granted. We do not accept it as a new fact on the ground with which we learn to live. The barbaric Israeli occupation has surpassed the Nazi regime that waged war in Europe in World War II.
    We need to raise awareness of the crime committed by the US and Russia and others that have allowed thousands of their own citizens to have dual citizenship, to join the armed forces of an alien state, and resided in the absolutely illegal settlements in East Jerusalem and the West Bank.
    This collusion between Israel and the US, and Israel and Russia, to name a few, is a crime that should be lodged at the International Criminal World Court in The Hague.

  3. Sami Joseph says:

    The Zionist affliction to savage barbarity towards unarmed victims seems not only incurable, but widespread too in Israeli military/security ranks.

  4. Fred says:

    Zionist influence in our government and media are harming our Mideast policies because we are supporting Israel which is an oppressive, apartheid state, and is a Jewish Supremacist state. NonJews are not equal under the law. The primary loyalty of many Zionists is Israel, and with the money of billionaires like Saban (for Hillary) and Adelson (for Republicans), the future for a new direction in US policies is bleak. Money rules in these United States and in our media as well.

  5. oldkahuna says:

    Assaf Gavron is certainly right. This extreme, fake “Zionism”, is killing Israel. His speaking as an Israeli, it is important for him to make this analysis. Genuine “Zionism” started as a secular movement because the “religious” Jews were not taking any action to protect Jews. But now, like the followers of Isis and our own fundamentalist “Christians,” they have married their political and ethical distortions with the current of spiteful fundamentalism.

    I am often reminded that the Israeli-Palestinian fight is so much like our national commitment to the genocide of the Native Peoples of these lands. It WOULD have been a better path for us “whites” to benefit from the Native Peoples (and vice versa), but we didn’t do it. We almost unanimously took the action of genocide. So, I ask this question, what can we glean from our own genocide that can be of value to the Israelis and Palestinians? For the sake of ALL, can we turn our blindness and the Israeli and Palestinian blindness into a life-giving and politically powerful healing? I love Judaism, so I love the many peoples of the much-chosen land. Now to the challenge of making this a politically efficient action!

  6. George says:

    It seems like the world is beginning to wake up and finally take notice of the consequences that the brutal occupation of Palestine is creating. The occupation must end. Imagine what the brutality would be like next year or in five years? What are we waiting for? World peace begins by ending the occupation.

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