Are the Natan-Zada Lynching Arrests a Cover-Up?

Some person or persons in high places decided not to send police reinforcements to protect Natan-Zada from the lynch mob.

Jared Israel

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Two weeks ago, Israeli police arrested seven people accused of lynching a Jewish Israeli soldier, Eden Natan-Zada, last August. Natan-Zada was the AWOL soldier whom the international media declared ?Guilty as charged? immediately after he was accused of gunning down four Arabs and was lynched on a bus in the town of Shfaram in Israel. The arrests were protested by Israeli Arab Knesset member Mohammad Barakeh. But looking at matters from quite a different point of view the question arises: Is this arrest a cover-up?

Immediately after Eden Natan-Zada was lynched, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon denounced him as a "bloodthirsty Jewish terrorist,? a charge which was then broadcast by the media worldwide. Based on an interview with Eden Natan-Zada?s father, who told how the media reversed what he said about his son, falsely claiming he considered his son a dangerous extremist, and an analysis of contradictions in media accounts, I disputed the official story last August on Arutz Sheva.

The same media that declared Natan-Zada guilty of murder based on supposed eyewitness accounts, also declared that he had been killed by enraged passersby immediately after he stopped shooting, also based on supposed eyewitness accounts. But an Israeli Channel 10 news broadcast, including footage of the killing of Natan-Zada, proved the "outraged passersby" story was a lie. The Channel 10 broadcast showed that Natan-Zada was lynched over a period of time, after being taken into police custody.

In the Channel 10 broadcast, police are heard making remarks that suggest that some person or persons in high places decided not to send police reinforcements to protect Natan-Zada from the lynch mob.

The channel 10 broadcast was banned. Why? According to the newspaper Haaretz: ?A court injunction was issued following the broadcast forbidding publication of any further information that might interfere with the police investigation.? Haaretz put forward the standard media line that Eden Natan-Zada was definitely guilty, but at least Haaretz reported the banning of the Channel 10 broadcast.

(The Haaretz article can still be found online here, or archived here. The banned broadcast can now be viewed as a streaming video, divided into Part 1 and Part 2, on Emperor?s Clothes. There is also a complete English translation of the transcript of the broadcast here.)

Why was the Channel 10 broadcast banned? Were authorities really worried that public airing of the broadcast would hinder their investigation? Why was the entire Israeli media permitted to broadcast unproven charges against Eden Natan-Zada, not to mention the proven lie that he died while being subdued by passersby, and falsifications of interviews with Eden Natan-Zada?s father? Yet, this one broadcast, that simply recorded events, was banned.

Perhaps one motive for the banning was to prevent the public from seeing that the media reports of how Natan-Zada died were false, leading them to question why the Israeli government would immediately declare this lynching victim a "bloodthirsty Jewish terrorist." Was Natan-Zada smeared as an Arab-hating Jewish terrorist in order to discredit opponents of the so-called Disengagement from Gaza?

Perhaps another real motive of the banning was to prevent the public from hearing a police intelligence official say, ?We knew no reinforcements would come.?

Why would no reinforcements come? Had a decision been made to let Natan-Zada die, so that he could not defend himself from the charge that he was a "bloodthirsty Jewish terrorist? trying to stop Disengagement from Gaza because of hatred of Arabs? Was this, in effect, a state-sanctioned lynching?

Unless the judicial authorities in Israel address the questions sharply raised by the Channel 10 broadcast, the arrest of the seven men will in fact constitute a cover-up ? a bone thrown to appease those angry about the lynching of Eden Natan-Zada, diverting them from the real questions:

Was Natan-Zada a political sacrificial lamb to demonize opponents of Disengagement? Was an order given not to send reinforcements to save his life?

When watching the video, please keep in mind that Channel 10 never challenged the official story of what happened prior to the lynching. Hence, they refer - without evidence - to Eden Natan-Zada as "the terrorist". Channel 10's great contribution was not its editorial stance, but that it filmed what happened and broadcast what it filmed.

Discussing the arrests on Reshet Bet radio, Yossi Beilin, Chairman of Israel's Meretz party and architect of the Geneva and Oslo Accords, dismissed the possibility that Eden Natan-Zada was not guilty, though no official inquiry was ever conducted, and though the media accounts have been largely discredited - as demonstrated by my article on Arutz Sheva and by the Channel 10 broadcast. Beilin declared that the arrest of seven accused lynchers was a great victory for justice.

I say, until the Israeli government conducts a serious, transparent investigation of what really happened on that bus and why no reinforcements were sent to save Eden Natan-Zada, the arrests will, in fact, constitute a cover-up.