Israeli Killers of Arab Boy: Aberrant Individuals

The basic asymmetry is that, whereas the murderers of the Israeli boys are still at large, and Palestinian society is known to systematically glorify and reward terrorist murderers of Israeli Jews, Israel reacted with horror to the news about Abu Khdeir’s murder—all the more so when it turned out he had been burned to death. Meanwhile, Israel’s police and General Security Service did their work and, on July 6, four days after the murder, six Israelis were arrested. Three of them remain in custody and have now been charged—which brings us to this week’s revelations.

It turns out that the three suspects are a 29-year-old man named Yosef Haim Ben-David and two as-yet-unnamed teenage accomplices.

And it also turns out that Ben-David has both a psychiatric and a criminal background.

As Ynetnews reported:

Ben-David has had a difficult history of mental health problems, which he will most likely use in his defense during the trial. When his daughter was only one month old he threatened to murder her and was arrested.

The police claimed that he had begun to choke the young baby, but stopped when his wife entered the room. As a result of the incident his family committed him to a mental hospital and he was separated from his family.

And in Haaretz’s telling:

Ben David…suffer[s] from the mental condition known as obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), which is stipulated in the indictment against him. About 18 months ago, he told a psychiatrist who was treating him that he sometimes had thoughts of murdering his baby daughter, and even attempted to do so once by strangulation. He was arrested after admitting this to the psychiatrist, though [he] was released into a rehabilitative program and not charged with any crimes.

The Jerusalem Post added:

The three suspects were charged with murder and kidnapping as well as a slew of other crimes….

The indictment included charges against Ben-David and one of the minors for their attempt to kidnap 7½-year-old Musa Zaloom…and striking him and his mother with whom he was walking….

The indictment has separate charges for multiple attempts by the same two to burn Arab cars….

Both Ben-David and one of the minors take psychiatric drugs for obsessive compulsive disorder, said the indictment.

In other words, the suspects in the Abu Khdeir murder are aberrant individuals—and certainly not members of an ideological organization that forms Israel’s government as Hamas does in Gaza.  Even the “what-have-we-come-to” hand-wringing that his murder prompted among some Israelis now appears out of place. “We haven’t come to” anything; all societies, lamentably, include some number of such individuals. “We” have done our duty by condemning, arresting, and charging them. If they’re found guilty, they’ll go to prison; no streets will be named after them, and, God forbid, our education system will not teach Israeli children to emulate them.

When the same things can be said about Palestinian murders of Israelis—that they are condemned and shunned by the society, arrested, charged, and punished—this morally asymmetrical “conflict” will be over.