In mid-October a 71-year-old man in Plainfield, Ill., stabbed a 6-year-old boy 26 times and injured his mother while shouting, "You Muslims must die." The victim, Wadea Al-Fayoume, was a Palestinian American who loved his family, soccer and basketball.
The alleged killer, Joseph Czuba, was not a distraught drifter. He was the landlord, had a good relationship with the boy's family, having even built a treehouse for Wadea, brought him toys and allowed him to swim in a makeshift pool. But Czuba was reportedly an avid listener to conservative right-wing radio shows that covered the Israeli-Hamas war.
Right now, there is no such thing as right-wing and left-wing media — the American media loses its wings when it comes to covering Israel. The news coming out of the Middle East incensed Czuba, who came to believe the Palestinians were coming to hurt him, his wife explained.
An ordinary man, who probably didn't know the difference between Hamas and hummus, turned into a monster. His love became hate, his gentle touches turned to stabs and a 6-year-old child became a threat. "I am not a threat" was a sign carried by some of Wadea's classmates as they stood on an Illinois basketball court in an emotional vigil for the Muslim boy.
Since Hamas militants' surprise attack on Israel Oct. 7, the media, political leaders, pundits and major corporations have adopted the Zionist narrative, ignoring the suffering of Palestinians, demonizing them, describing Palestinians who resist occupation and the stealing of their lands as animals, barbarians and Nazis.
How do ordinary people commit monstrous acts? Most of the Germans who took part in the extermination of millions of Jews in the Holocaust were ordinary people, law-abiding citizens, explained sociologist Zygmunt Bauman in his book, "Modernity and the Holocaust." Now, we have thousands of ordinary Israelis — teachers, lifeguards, mechanics, accountants, fathers and mothers — committing monstrous acts in Gaza. The children of the Holocaust are committing one.
As Nazism taught us, if you are going to wipe out a race, you need to kill all children. The whole world was disturbed by the monstrous act of a 71-year-old landlord who stabbed a Palestinian child 26 times. But his paranoia and overkill is a perfect metaphor for what is happening now in Gaza, where the apartheid state of Israel has been stealing Palestinian lands for 75 years, stabbing the Palestinians thousands of times, turning millions into refugees. The overkill reaction of the most potent military force in the Middle East, trying to get back hostages — prisoners of war, according to a Hamas spokesman — dropped enough explosives to turn Gaza into a killing field, a kind of concentration camp.
Americans not only justify atrocities committed by the Israelis against the Palestinian people but encourage and participate in the genocide. The Israelis have been following the American template of extermination of Indigenous people, those who challenge its racist narrative.
As commentator Chris Hedges explained: "The extermination of those whose land we steal, whose resources we plunder and whose labor we exploit is coded within our DNA. Ask Native Americans. Ask Indians. Ask the Congolese. Ask the Kikuyu in Kenya. Ask the Herero in Namibia who, like Palestinians in Gaza, were gunned down and driven into desert concentration camps where they died of starvation and disease. Eighty thousand of them. Ask Iraqis, Ask Afghans. Ask Syrians. Ask Kurds. Ask Libyans. Ask Indigenous peoples across the globe. They know who we are."
As an Arab/Muslim, one has to audition for everyone to prove you are innocent. Before starting any conversation you have to condemn Hamas, as if Hamas were behind Nazism, fascism, communism or slavery.
History is the ultimate judge. We condemned Yasser Arafat, then gave him a Nobel Peace Prize; we condemned Nelson Mandela, then gave him a Nobel Peace Prize; we condemned the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., who started a civil rights movement. Most of all, over 2,000 years ago, the world condemned a Palestinian who died in Jerusalem. Now he has more than a billion followers.
Ahmed Tharwat, host and producer of the Arab American TV show BelAhdan, is working on a film documentary, "The Coptic Grave." He lives in Minnetonka.