A group of Israelis who visited the family of slain Palestinian teen Muhammed Abu Khdeir found the family split between warm welcomes and open hostility towards what some perceived as a publicity stunt to justify attacks on Gaza.
The Christian Science Monitor reports that the experiment, in which a group of Israelis unrelated to the incident visited the family, was met with mixed results. The elder members of the family were warm and appreciative of the visit. In one instance, an Israeli woman who asked not to be named cried with Khdeir’s mother–one over the lost 16-year-old child, the other over her current inability to have a child. “[Suha Abu Khudeir] told me, ‘I hope you will have a child and know what it’s like to be a mother, and that nothing will happen to your child,’ ” the woman told the publication.
Others did not achieve such a connection with the family. One of the participants told the paper he felt “duped” for coming to the visit at all, after leaving the group upon one of the Palestinians insisting the Knesset, the Jewish legislature, was “evil.” He explained that he wanted to visit the Palestinian side of Jerusalem to make a point: “I came because it is abundantly clear in the Arab world that Jews condemn the murder of Israeli Jews. But it is not abundantly clear that Jews condemn the murder of innocent Arabs.”
A younger cousin of Abu Khdeir explained that the resistance towards the visit was deeply rooted in the idea that the Israelis were attempting to use them to improve their public image and divert attention from attacks in Gaza. “We were against this concept,” he said, adding that he used to work with Israelis on unity issues but ended his contact with Israeli friends when they did not refuse to join the military, which is compulsory.
The murder of Abu Khdeir was met with outrage from the international community, as it followed the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teens by members of Hamas. The timing led many to immediately assume the murder was a retaliatory one. Israeli law enforcement found the culprits quickly, two young Jewish men who confessed to the murder and are in custody.