The Russian discotheque Dolphi, devastated by the Friday night blast, stands on the shore of Manshieh, a destroyed Palestinian neighborhood of Jaffa, not far from my home. Teenage friends of my sons used to frequent the place. It is an innocent crowd, brought to the shores of Palestine by their parents after disintegration of the Soviet Union. Kids speak Russian, their contacts with Israeli boys and girls of the same age are quite limited, as is their interest in local affairs. Many of them are blond and blue-eyed, some dress in the outmoded punk style, they drink more than it is good for them. Few of them are Jews by any reasonable criteria, and Israeli radio informed that it would be quite impossible to bury the victims in the hallowed ground of the Jewish cemetery. Their fate is not an easy one in the Jewish state: they are supposed to serve in the army, but the army makes it difficult for them to swear the oath of allegiance on the Gospel. If they perish, they are buried beyond the fence, together with suicides.
As Druse and Circassian minorities, one million strong Russian community is not an obvious partner of the Jewish supremacists. The Russians are subject to discrimination. They have low paid jobs, which provide no security of income. They pay huge interest (three times higher than in the US) on loans they are given as 'a settlement grant' or 'a mortgage help'. Many Russians baptize their children, pretty Russian girls often marry Palestinians. Actually, despite separation rules, Russians marry Palestinians as often as they marry Israelis. The blast is liable to enforce their tentative ties with Israelis. That is why it is important to stress that the circumstances of the explosion are still surrounded by a cloud of mystery.
No Islamic movement claimed responsibility, though as a rule they compete with such claims, true or false. INFOPAL expressed doubts whether "any Islamic movement is able to carry out such a strong attack, given that most of the recent suicide bombings have failed to cause significant harm or damage". On the other hand, Israeli intelligence has know-how and facilities needed to cause by one blast the major shift of alliance of the Russian community. The Mossad proved its lack of scruples in 1949, when they bombed the Baghdad synagogue and sent the Iraqi Jews running to Israel. In 1990-s they instigated rumors of impending pogroms in Moscow and sent the parents of Dolphi kids on the way to Tel Aviv. Killing of non-Jewish children was already declared a 'justifiable means' by Madeleine Albright. She spoke about Iraqi children, dying because of the US-imposed blockade, but her Tel Aviv friends could make their own conclusions.
While there are still reasonable doubts as to the identity of the bombers, one thing is certain: collective ethnic-based punishment is a crime against humanity.
Many years from now, Palestinians will unravel the mystery of the botched suicide bomber wave 2001. They will discover who and why targeted the Russian disco, or the poorest Hassidic area of Jerusalem, or other marginal sites, as if trying to enforce the elusive Jewish unity. They will find out why the only 'successful' attack was made on predominantly non-Jewish kids.
But it is not the only doubt. Susanne Scheidt from Italy posited a legitimate query: "How come that last summer, when there was no Palestinian uprising in sight, we read about numerous cases in which Palestinians, as soon as they showed up on the beach of Tel Aviv with a bathing suit in their bag, were instantly spotted by Israeli police and sent away from the beach?" Could a Palestinian get as far as the queue to the discotheque? There is an alternative version.
Last year we witnessed a severe gang warfare for the control of Russian night clubs. The warring parties used to throw hand-grenades into the competing clubs, with some human casualties. Russian discos of Tel Aviv are fighting for the same market. Their methods are not too gentle. It is not impossible that the fatal attack at the entrance of the Russian discotheque was caused by the gang war, rather than by a Palestinian bomber. A year ago there was a dreadful explosion in Moscow underground station Pushkinskaya, that was immediately ascribed to Chechen terrorists. Afterwards it became known that the station was bombed by the racketeers, as the vendors did not pay the protection money.
Now, if it will be found out that the explosion was actually caused by a rival gang from, say, a neighboring Netania, would the IDF planes bomb Netania? Would the army besiege Netania? Would Netania city council be denounced as a terrorist organization? No, this way of collective punishment is meted out only to Palestinians. That is why I think we should object both to the premature presumption of a Palestinian involvement, and to the racist style of collective punishment. Israelis are too fast in this game.
When a single Jewish terrorist shot a German diplomat in Paris in 1938, the Nazi government replied with the Kristallhacht, a massive pogrom that carried away one hundred lives. When a single pro-Iraqi terrorist shot an Israeli diplomat in London in 1982, Israeli government unleashed the invasion of Lebanon and killed forty thousand people. Maybe it was the thing to do in the days of Genghis Khan, but not any more. Nobody demands 'the Jews' to pay for the dirty dealings of Milken, Rich and Maxwell, or for Sharon massacres. 'The Palestinians' should not pay for excesses of individuals. While there are still reasonable doubts as to the identity of the bombers, one thing is certain: collective ethnic-based punishment is a crime against humanity.
Gaza should be treated in the same way as Netania, Mahmud and Anton should have the same rights as Doron and Boris. Then, probably, there will be no reason even for suspicions and doubts.