Wednesday, July 02, 2014

Vigil for Peace today in Jerusalem

This afternoon I went to a vigil organized by Rabbis for Human Rights, Tag Meir, and the New Israel Fund and held in the center of Jerusalem.  ("Tag Meir" means "Tag of Light" - the name is contrasted with "Tag Mechir" - "Price Tag" - attacks on Palestinians in the West Bank and Israel by right-wing Jewish extremists).
Following the horrific murders of Naftali Fraenkel, Gilad Shaer and Eyal Yifrah, we are witnessing acts of violence and calls for revenge.

Today, NIF joined Tag Meir in Jerusalem for a vigil calling for an end to the violence, racism, dehumanization, and bloodshed.
The photos are from the vigil. The first one, above, reads "An eye for an eye and the whole world will become blind." The second one, below, says, "There is no distinction between blood and blood," said by one of the members of the Fraenkel family after hearing that the body of a 16-year-old Palestinian man, Muhammad Hussein Abu Khdeir, was found in the Jerusalem forest in the west of the city early this morning. The Times of Israel reports:
Israeli police have become increasingly convinced that 16-year-old Jerusalem resident Mohammed Abu Khdeir was murdered Wednesday morning as revenge for the killing of three kidnapped Israeli teens, officials said Wednesday evening. 
According to the testimony of local residents, Abu Khdeir was seen being forced into a car by three Israelis in East Jerusalem late Tuesday. Police later confirmed a body was found in a forest in West Jerusalem. 
DNA tests proved the body was that of the missing teenager, his family said. 
An official familiar with the investigation told Israeli news site Walla that investigators were leaning toward revenge as the motive behind Abu Khdeir’s killing. “The assessment now is that this was nationalistically motivated,” the source said. 
Security camera footage from the scene of Abu Khdeir’s kidnapping strengthened investigators’ suspicions that Jewish extremists snatched the teen, Channel 2 reported. 
Police are still looking into the possibility of a criminal motive for the attack, or even an honor killing, but sources told Channel 10 that the family has no criminal history. The sources also said rumors claiming that Abu Khdeir was killed because he was gay, or because he’d had sexual encounters with local girls, are baseless. 
The killing set off violent riots in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Shuafat, where protesters clashed with police and burned down a light rail stop. 

From the New York Times article about Muhammad Abu Khdeir:
In an interview on his porch, Mr. Abu Khdeir [Muhammad's father], who owns an electrical appliance store, said he had been wakened in the early hours by local youths who came to tell him that his son had been abducted outside the neighborhood mosque, just a few yards from the house. He then called the police, who asked for the son’s cellphone number. It rang, unanswered. Hours later a body was found in a Jerusalem forest. 
Mr. Abu Khdeir, who has three sons and four daughters — Muhammad was the middle son — said he expected that the body would be returned to the family on Thursday and that an autopsy would be conducted, with a Palestinian doctor present. 
Israeli officials have denounced Muhammad’s death as a despicable act but have urged caution in rushing to judgment on who was responsible. 
Mr. Abu Khdeir showed visitors photographs, on his cellphone, that he said were from street security cameras near the mosque. One showed two young men walking on the pavement, whom he said were the kidnappers. 
“I am against kidnapping and killing,” he said. “Whether Jew or Arab, who would accept that his son or daughter would be kidnapped and killed? I call on both sides to stop the bloodshed.” 
His wife, Suha Abu Khdeir, sat separately, quiet and tearful, in the house’s upper floor, surrounded by women who had come to comfort her. 
“We don’t feel safe,” she said. “They took him in front of our home.”
More details about the kidnapping:
Relatives of the abducted youth said he had left his father’s kitchenware and appliance store around 3:30 a.m. and was sitting on a wall outside the mosque with some other teenagers waiting for the dawn prayer that starts the daily fast during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. Mahmoud Abu Khdeir, the imam of the mosque and a cousin, said the other youths left to get food for the traditional predawn meal when a gray Hyundai pulled up at 3:45 a.m. and its occupants forced Muhammad into the car. 
“He was kidnapped and killed by the settlers, and the police know that very well,” the imam said. The police said they were reviewing footage from security cameras along the street; the imam said they have been used in the past to identify and arrest Palestinian stone-throwers. “They are trying to say that it is an honor killing, and this is categorically not true,” he said.

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