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.
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.
“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.
“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.