Tuesday, September 26, 2023

A Palestinian kid killed in a traffic accident with another Arab driver? Nathan Thrall blames Israel!

Israeli medics at the scene of a fatal Palestinian car crash in 2017

From The New York Review of Books:

Heading Toward a Second Nakba
David Shulman
Nathan Thrall argues that the accident in which Abed Salama’s son died was a predictable, even inevitable, outcome of the Israeli occupation in its quotidian forms.

On a stormy winter day in February 2012, a Palestinian bus carrying schoolchildren on an outing collided with an Israeli trailer truck on the notoriously dangerous Jaba‘ Road near the West Bank village of A-Ram, not far from Ramallah. The bus burst into flames; six young children and one teacher were killed and others were seriously injured. Among the dead was Milad, the five-year-old son of Abed Salama, from the town of Anata. Nathan Thrall has made the story of that accident and that family the thread that binds together A Day in the Life of Abed Salama, a penetrating, wide-ranging, heart-wrenching exploration of life in Palestine under Israeli occupation. I know of no other writing on Israel and Palestine that reaches this depth of perception and understanding.

There is indeed something emblematic about the accident. The Jaba‘ Road is entirely within Area C, the 62 percent of the occupied West Bank that is under full Israeli control, where today there are close to two hundred settlements and settler outposts. Because of the nightmarish maze of roads in the Ramallah area—some of them closed altogether to Palestinians, others blocked by army checkpoints to keep Palestinians without special permits from entering Israel—rescuers were slow in reaching the site of the accident. They were also slow in evacuating the injured, many of them badly burned, to hospitals in Ramallah or inside Israel. Fire trucks, army medics, and ambulances were only a mile or two away in nearby Jewish settlements but failed to arrive quickly. Israeli ambulances coming from Jerusalem were held up for critical minutes at the checkpoints. Moreover, Palestinian neighborhoods in the vicinity of the Separation Barrier had (and some still have) almost no emergency or police services. As one of the Palestinian rescuers at the site of the accident later formulated what had happened: “If it had been two Palestinian children throwing stones on the road, the army would have been there in no time. When Jews are in danger, Israel sends helicopters. But a burning bus full of Palestinian children….”

...No one wanted to kill those children along with one of their teachers. Israeli rescuers and soldiers who finally reached the accident site did their best to save the injured. But the central point of Thrall’s narrative is that this disaster, like today’s ongoing violence in the Palestinian territories in general, was a predictable, even inevitable, outcome of the occupation system in its quotidian forms. It is a regime of state terror whose raison d’ĂȘtre is the theft of Palestinian land and, whenever possible, the expulsion of its Palestinian owners. I have seen this system in operation over the course of the past twenty-odd years.
I did not read the book, and probably won't. But this review already shows the incredible bias and the desire by Thrall to bend any evidence towards his foregone conclusion.

First of all, the driver of the Israeli truck was an Arab

An average of two to three Palestinian Arabs are killed every week in road accidents. In 2022, there were 144 fatalities in over 16,000 accidents. 

Palestinians acknowledge the epidemic of car accidents, and when they are not speaking to Westerners they blame themselves, not Israel, for these deaths. Ten reasons for Palestinian car crashes are listed in this article:

1- Narrow roads
2- Drivers who ignore traffic laws and basic safety, tailgating, passing vehicles on the opposite side of the road.
3- Not maintaining their cars.
4- Using a mobile phone while driving .
5- Low traffic awareness .
6- Young people and teenagers driving vehicles .
7- Drivers showing off.
8- Buildings being built right up to the roads.
9- Drug users who park their cars on the roads away from home.
10-  Vehicles from Israel, often that would not pass Israeli inspections, being sold or stolen and used.

Even in Israel, the majority of car accidents involve young Arab drivers. 

But what about the supposed delay of help for Milad and the other children? Wasn't that Israel's fault?

It doesn't seem to be true. News reports from the time say:

Following the accident, Palestinian health minister Fathi Abu Mughli accused Israeli rescue services of failing to provide timely assistance, resulting in more casualties. Ma’ariv reported that eyewitness report contradict Abu Mughli’s claim.

Israeli and Palestinian rescue teams transferred at least 30 casualties to hospitals in Ramallah, Petah Tikva and Jerusalem, Israel Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said. Israel Radio reported that it took rescue forces seven minutes to reach the scene of the accident
Thrall believed the Palestinian health ministry, which has a track record of lying, over the Israeli authorities. Which tells you all you need to know about his interest in the facts. 

In other accidents involving Arabs in Area C, Israeli and "settler" ambulances rush to the scene to help, indicating who is telling the truth.. 

Earlier this year a 12-year old Palestinian Arab boy in the West Bank was internally decapitated when he was hit by an Arab car, and doctors in Israel performed an extremely rare and delicate surgery to save his life. 

A similar horrific accident as Milad's from 2017 where there was a 3-way collision between an armored Israeli bus, a Palestinian minibus and a Palestinian car saw a swarm of Magen David Adom ambulances and an IDF doctor on the scene within minutes trying to save lives. 

In 2017, in another fatal West Bank car accident, a nine month old Arab baby survived while his father was killed and his mother unconscious. The baby refused to drink from a bottle so the Israeli Jewish nurse volunteered to breastfeed him. She put out a call on Facebook asking for other volunteers and Jewish women from as far away as Haifa wanted to help.

The "Jewish supremacy" and "racism" that Thrall takes as a given is an anti-Israel paranoid fantasy. Jews, even "settlers," help Palestinian Arabs in trouble, all the time. 

In other words, the very basis of Nathan Thrall's book is built on lies. And that is how anti-Israel writers like Thrall and the reviewer work: not only will they only look at selected evidence that supports their thesis - they will twist counter-evidence to pretend it is evidence. 

This supposed microcosm of Israeli evil is anything but. The only malicious actors in this little drama are Nathan Thrall and David Shulman.

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