If anyone has any doubt about the nature of the settler movement they should have none anymore after an Israeli army deserter and follow of Meir Kahane (may his name be cursed) went on a shooting rampage (using his IDF-issued weapon) in an Israeli Arab village in northern Israel.
19 year-old Eden Natan Zada, lived in the West Bank settlement of Tapuah, known as a hotbed of Kahanist activism within the settler movement. This is the New York Times story.
One of the most disturbing aspects of this case is that it might’ve been preventable. Zada’s father had called the IDF to warn them that his son still possessed his weapon after deserting:
…his father, Yitzhak, said that his son had been living in Tapuah and that he had informed army officials of his son’s whereabouts and told them to repossess his weapon.
“I wasn’t afraid that he would do something,” he told The Associated Press. “I was afraid of the others” in Tapuah. He said he spoke to his son two days ago, “and he told me he would find the time to return the weapon.” The Israeli military said it was investigating why he still had his weapon after he had deserted.
Haaretz adds to the story with its interview of Zada’s mother:
Debbie, his mother, was upset last night. She claimed she warned army and police authorities that her son was carrying a weapon. “We told everyone he’s AWOL, that he could do something with his gun. We begged them to take away his gun. He also asked them to take his gun. The army destroyed my child. The army destroyed my life,” she screamed Thursday night at home, slamming the gas burners on the ground in her kitchen.
She was completely confused by the attack and boiling with anger. “They told us in the army that they would declare him AWOL only 45 days after he disappeared. I told IDF personnel that I was ready to go to Tapuach with them, to search house to house for him. The army told me to
go alone,” she said.
So let’s get this straight. Say a Palestinian or Israeli Arab father called the IDF and told them that their child had a military weapon and that he was afraid the son or his comrades might use it against Israelis. And let’s further add that the father gives the IDF his son’s location. How quickly would it be before a soldier would be knocking on this kid’s door? So the fatal question is: why was the IDF so abysmally negligent? Here you have a tinderbox situation with the Gaza pullout. You have intelligence telling you that some settler groups are planning violent provocative acts to sabotage the process. And yet you do nothing when presented with such information?
I was about to say if it was this country, you know heads would roll. Well, I guess we’ve already proven the fallacy of that in the aftermath of 9/11. And given the IDF & Israel’s reluctance to pursue Jewish terror with the same vigor and vehemence with which it pursues Palestinian terror, it’s unlikely anyone will receive more than a slap for this outrageous lapse.
The attack may be one of the first times that Jewish militants have murdered Israeli Arabs (who are Israeli citizens). Until now, the settler vigilantes have contented themselves with murdering or beating half to death only Palestinians. This shooting spree ups the ante on terror. It also puts the lie to the Israeli claim that it treats its Arab citizens as equal to Jewish citizens:
Issam Makhoul, an Arab member of Israel’s Parliament, said Israeli political leaders had “been questioning the legitimacy of our citizenship in the past few years, and today someone took the initiative and acted on this.”
And I was faintly amused by a settler leader who expressed “revulsion” at the murders:
Bentzi Lieberman, the head of the main settler organization, the Yesha Council, condemned Thursday’s shooting. “Murder is murder is murder, and there can be no other response but to denounce it completely and express revulsion,” he said.
There is, of course, no awareness on Lieberman’s part that the settler movement’s ideology and very nature made this attack all but inevitable. Certainly, I’d agree that there are many settlers who didn’t want such a thing to happen. But their motives would mostly be pragmatic and tactical rather than moral. This attack should all but destroy the remaining momentum against the Gaza withdrawal. That’s something that the settlers won’t like and that’s why they don’t want to kill Arabs now.
Although it’s something that would immensely please the more radical Kahanists who believe, a la Hitler, that Arabs of all varieties must be banished from Israel–the sooner and more violently the better. For the Kahanists are like the 19th century nihilists and anarchists who believed that the more spectacular and horrifying an act of terror, the quicker the state and entire capitalist system would topple. But the strategy of each of these groups has failed or will fail.
My closing thought on this horrendous double act of terror and mob lynching goes back to Martin Luther King’s memorable: “An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth makes us all blind and toothless” (which King borrowed from Gandhi). And this is also true of Israel’s Jewish and Arab communities tonight.
Robert Rosenberg of ariga.com writes a typically powerful and cogent analysis of this event in Jewish Shahid.