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Do Israelis lack empathy for Palestinian suffering?

While Israeli Jews have always demonstrated solidarity with Jews around the world, they reject demonstrations of solidarity by Israeli Palestinians toward their brothers under occupation.
Israeli right-wing protesters demonstrate outside a military court during a hearing of an Israeli soldier whom the military said has been arrested after he shot a wounded and motionless Palestinian assailant in Hebron on March 24, near the southern Israeli city of Kiryat Malachi, in this March 29, 2016 file picture. REUTERS/Amir Cohen/Files  - RTSDU2B
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The storm generated by Knesset member Zuhair Bahloul of the Zionist Camp for refusing to label the stabber of an Israeli soldier in Hebron a “terrorist” is yet another lesson in the complex reality of Arab society in Israel. The bloody conflict between their fellow people, the Palestinians, and their fellow citizens, the Jews of Israel, traps Israel’s Arab citizens between a rock and a hard place: solidarity and empathy on the one hand, and denial and repression on the other. In June 2014, Knesset member Haneen Zoabi of the Arab Balad Party dared argue that the killers of three Israeli youths in the West Bank were not terrorists. The agonized shrieks of Israel’s elected officials reverberated at the time through the halls of the Knesset.

Bahloul was decrying the fact that for Israelis, “anyone struggling for his liberty and his independence is a terrorist.” Zoabi voiced her solidarity in cruder terms. She said that her occupied people will keep resorting to violence “until Israeli citizens and society will wake up and feel the suffering of the other." Similar comments have been made for decades by Israeli Palestinians.

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