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Heinous Crime

Ha’aretz reports on the murder of an Arab taxi driver.

Jerusalem Mayor Uri Lupolianski urged the state on Tuesday to grant the family of East Jerusalem taxi driver Taysir Karaki, who was murdered Monday, the benefits reserved for families of terror victims. Lupolianski instructed the city’s social welfare department to aid the family.

 

On Monday, 26-year-old Tel Aviv resident Julian Soufir, who is suspected of having committed the murder, told police “I decided to murder an Arab.”

 

The police was preparing for a possible retaliation Monday, fearing a reciprocal murder in a mixed Arab-Jewish town, or a Jewish city situated in close proximity to an Arab population.

 

Police said their initial investigation revealed that the suspect, an immigrant from France whose family lives in Netanya, went to Jerusalem on Monday morning to find a taxi driver to murder.

 

They discovered the murder of Taysir Karaki, 35, from Beit Haninah north of the capital, almost by chance after they stopped two young men walking down the middle of a Tel Aviv street at around 4:00 P.M., near Yonah Hanavi Street.

 

The police approached them with a routine request for identification. One of the men told the police that he had “done something in the apartment,” and asked the police to accompany him to the nearby dwelling, where they found the victim lying dead inside. “I turned around and immediately handcuffed him,” said Avrahali Vanda, one of the arresting officers.

 

Police said the victim’s throat had been slit a few hours before the body was found. His taxi was parked outside.

 

The Tel Aviv Magistrate’s Court extended Soufir’s remand by 10 days Tuesday, and the remand of his 21-year-old brother, whom they believe reached the apartment shortly after the murder and remained with the killer until the two were apprehended, by two days. However, the police do not believe the brother took part in the crime.

 

At the remand hearing, Soufir’s attorney argued that the suspect is not fit to stand trial. “As far as we understand, he can’t differentiate between good and bad, makes things up and speaks to ghosts and goblins that dictate his life,” Soufir’s attorney said. Apparently, the police were called to Soufir’s Tel Aviv apartment about a month ago after his wife complained that he had attacked her. The suspect’s mental stability was questioned during that incident as well and he was sent to Abarbanel mental hospital for an evaluation, but he was released shortly after.

 

In contrast, the police claim that it seemed to them that the suspect “knew exactly what he was talking about when he described the event, and his memory was good. He also supplied a logical explanation for his actions.”

 

Soufir is scheduled to unergo a psychiatric evaluation prior to standing trial.

 

Police say the suspect, who is newly religious, seems to have had no prior acquaintance with the victim. “Therefore, at the crime scene itself we began to suspect that this might be a case of murder stemming from nationalistic motives,” said Chief Superintendent Avi Neuman, a Yarkon region detective.

 

The suspect said he went to Jerusalem because he thought he would be able to find an Arab victim more easily there. “We don’t know whether he planned it two hours before or two weeks before, but there are certainly signs he planned it,” Brigadier General Hagai Dotan, the commander of the Yarkon region police, told Haaretz.

 

The suspect entered the victim’s taxi in Jerusalem and asked to be driven to Tel Aviv. They apparently made one stop along the way at the suspect’s request. “When they arrived, the suspect persuaded the victim to come up to the apartment,” apparently with an offer to use the bathroom before going home, Neuman said. The suspect then allegedly attacked the victim with a knife he had prepared ahead of time.

 

The suspect rented the apartment with his wife two months ago, but they are apparently now separated. Neighbors said they did not know the couple, except that they were French. One neighbor said she saw the suspect arrive for prayers daily at the neighborhood synagogue.

I fully condemn this despicable act, and offer my condolences to the victim’s family. And while I agree with Lupolianski’s intention to grant the victim’s family benefits reserved for families of terror victims, I think we should wait until we know for sure that this was a nationally motivated murder. I say this given the the question marks regarding the suspect’s sanity. In short: was he really a terrorist or a mentally troubled person? Not that these are necessarily mutually exclusive.

 

In any event, Lupolianski’s statement is important in countering the efforts of Arab MKs trying to use this murder to demonize Israel, and increase the already large rift between Israeli Jews and Arabs.

Arab MKs were angry when they heard that the taxi driver was killed for nationalistic motives.

 

MK Ahmad Tibi (United Arab List) said, “The rising hatred and racism are breading grounds for hate crimes. The courts will probably find extenuating circumstances for this heinous crime,” he added

 

MK Said Napa (Balad), who recently took Azmi Bishara’s place as MK said the “demonization and incitement against the Arab public give this kind of act its legitimization. It was only a matter of time until words turned into actions.”

And of course others will use this murder to support their twisted thesis of a cycle of violence, or the existence of Jewish terrorism.

 

What I think this murder highlights is the fundamental difference between Israeli and palestinian society. In palestinian society, this is the kind of thing that is encouraged and condoned. Those who commit such murders are venerated, not incarcerated. Furthermore, this is commonplace, unlike in Israeli society where incidences of nationally motivated murders are rare, and usually committed by a lone, mentally disturbed person, not a member of some terrorist organization. These murderers are shunned, and punished via the legal system.

About the author

Picture of David Lange

David Lange

A law school graduate, David Lange transitioned from work in the oil and hi-tech industries into fulltime Israel advocacy. He is a respected commentator and Middle East analyst who has often been cited by the mainstream media
Picture of David Lange

David Lange

A law school graduate, David Lange transitioned from work in the oil and hi-tech industries into fulltime Israel advocacy. He is a respected commentator and Middle East analyst who has often been cited by the mainstream media
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