Before I begin this post I want to make clear that I in no way justify the horrible violence perpetrated at Merkaz Harav by the Palestinian gunman who took eight Israeli lives this past week. But it is instructive to note the reception accorded Ehud Olmert and his education minister, Yuli Tamir, when they attempted to pay a condolence visit at the school. Tamir actually had the courage to face the music and visited before her entourage was assaulted and she had to flee. Olmert never made the attempt because he was told he was not wanted:
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert was told on Sunday that he is not welcome to visit the Mercaz Harav religious school in Jerusalem, where eight students were killed Thursday when a Palestinian gunman opened fire on a crowded library.
The yeshiva informed Olmert of its decision in response to the prime minister’s request to visit the school in the wake of the attack.
In its message, the yeshiva said its decision was not final, but emphasized that their wish was “to save him and us the embarrassment.”
I find this extraordinary. Think of it. You’ve just suffered a devastating terror attack and the leader of your nation asks to pay a condolence call and you tell him essentially to go f— himself. Lest any people doubt what Merkaz Harav is and believe it is pure house of learning, such effrontery gives the lie to this. The institution is the ideological nursing grounds for the settler movement. And clearly not just any part of the movement but the more extreme elements.
The treatment accorded Tamir was even more distressing than the insult to Olmert:
Education Minister Yuli Tamir was ejected from the Mercaz Harav religious school during her visit on Sunday, after students called her a “murderer” and “Oslo criminal.”
Tamir first visited the middle school, where students outside shouted at her to leave. The school’s head rabbis asked that Tamir discontinue her tour, but she insisted on visiting the yeshiva high school as well.
…Some students protested Tamir’s [being invited], calling it “sycophancy.”
During the meeting, dozens of students gathered outside the yeshiva to protest her presence, saying she consistently “harasses the religious sector.” A plastic bottle thrown towards the education minister hit one of her security guards in the back. Tamir was escorted safely back to her vehicle by police.
The head of the middle school, Rabbi Yerachmiel Weiss, told Haaretz after the incident that “many students find the government’s political prospects – be it the division of Jerusalem or evacuating outposts, which for some means being driven out of their homes – very distressing. While there were some who slammed her visit, we told them everyone has the right to hold their own worldview, and we were pleased that the minister came.”
Tamir said Sunday evening that “outside the library people gathered. They shouted, behaved inappropriately and ruined the atmosphere of grief. Sadly, some people cannot distinguish between politics and bereavement.”
“When I was invited, I didn’t hesitate for a moment,” Tamir added. “Unfortunately, I feel that some people, hopefully only a handful, cannot transcend their propensity for incitement, even in times of mourning.”
What does it mean when you call a government minister a “murderer?” It means you’ve called an elected leader of your government an ally of terrorists and of your nation’s enemy. And surely you’ve just announced open season on all such “traitors.” You might as well have painted a cross hair on her back.
Such behavior certainly doesn’t mean we shouldn’t grieve over their loss. But it does force us to open our eyes to what is happening in Israeli society. With the news that the dean of the Yeshiva University rabbinical school told his Israelis students they shouldn’t serve in the IDF if it pursues immoral policies like removing settlers from settlements and that they should “shoot” the prime minister if he “gives away” Jerusalem, the well of hatred in Israel’s extreme nationalist-religious movement is uncovered for all to see.
Some might argue that in the aftermath of such horror there are bound to be angry emotions and words. Yes, I understand. But given Israel’s bloody history in which a prime minister has already been assassinated, one has to ask what role the settlers and their enablers are playing. Is their aim to turn Israel into a chaotic mess if they don’t get their way politically? If they are willing to call the country’s elected leaders “murderers” and advocate their assassination, what should their fellow Israelis think of them? That they want what is best for all Israel? That they honor democratic norms?
Gideon Levy goes far deeper into the yeshiva’s history as the cradle of the extremist settler movement in this Haaretz article.
Well, there you go showing your incredible and profound ignorance again. It never ceases to amaze me how little you understand about Israel. Note that these great leaders of Israel (and no, no one – NO ONE in Israel things Olmert or Tamir are anywhere near “great”) didn’t bother showing up to the funerals…they didn’t bother. They have systematically attempted to degrade this community and all it stands for – and now, in their deepest pain, they are supposed to give these hypocrites respect? That would be as unlikely as anyone every attempting to take YOU seriously.
Richard Silverstein says
It never ceases to amaze me how highly right-wingers think of their own abilities of political analysis. And how everyone who doesn’t share their wingnut views is little better than a moron, if that.
Howso? Because Olmert & Tamir supported the Gaza withdrawal & support further eventual unspecified W. Bank settlement withdrawals that means they degrade the settler/extreme nationalist community??? C’mon. Olmert & Tamir owe their allegiance to the nation & not just to a narrow extreme political-religious interest group within it.
You know, I detest George Bush. But I’ve never confused him with Al Qaeda & said he made allegiance with them & therefore he’s a traitor to the nation & worthy of hunting down like a dog which is pretty close to what the wild-eyed extremists at the Yeshiva have done.
People who take me seriously are people I respect & not to be confused with others like you for whom I have nothing but disdain.
I should just point out that Shulamat Aloni and Zahava Gal-On called Begin and Sharon “murderers” (rotzhim) during the Lebanon I War, and Olmert’s daughter Dana
called IDF Chief of Staff Dan Halutz a murderer also (I wonder why she left out her father who is the one who gave the orders to Halutz). When Zahava Gal-On was asked why it was okay for her to call Begin and Sharon murderers, but it was “incitement” for right-wingers to do the same after the big wave of terrorist attacks by the Left’s peace partners she said “its different, what I said was true”.
Don’t forget that Shulamit Aloni was not a school kid at the time, she was a public figure and a member of the Knesset.
wm. tyroler says
Not quite sure I get the thrust of the post. It starts out with a disclaimer of intent to “justify the horrible violence perpetrated at Merkaz Harav by the Palestinian gunman” and then proceeds to … what? Complain about the victims. I don’t see an unqualified condemnation of “the Palestinian gunman”; insead, there’s a sort of implied “they deserved it” or moral equivalence.
That aside, Silverstein accuses the yeshiva of, in effect with respect to Yuli Tamir, “paint(ing) a cross hair on her back.” I wonder what, then, what he would make of these literal cross-hairs: [URL removed by blog author per comment rules]
Richard Silverstein says
Dana Olmert did NOT call Halutz a murderer. She attended a demonstration at which some demonstrators carried placards saying that.
Besides, no leftist has ever murdered a minister or prime minister. But rightists HAVE murdered a prime minister. When a rightist accuses someone of being a traitor it’s a much more serious accusation because it has already led to murder & could very easily again. I assure you that no Israeli progressive would ever murder Sharon, Netanyahu, Begin or Olmert.
Richard Silverstein says
Why am I not surprised. You must’ve been blown in by a foul wind fr. my good “friend” Aussie Dave, the liar & moral pygmy who writes Israellycool & makes feeble attempts to ridicule my views.
Being a survivor of a terror attack doesn’t excuse inciting the murder of Israeli gov’t ministers.
Again, what is it about the word ‘bestial” that doesn’t declare enough “unqualified moral condemnation” of the attack??? Why do I get the feeling that it wouldn’t matter what I wrote condemning the attack. Nothing’s good enough for our rightist friends I’m afraid.
The problem w. the moral universe of the Israel-First right is that moral depravity on the part of Arabs justifies moral depravity on the part of Israeli Jews. For Tyroler & those who share his beliefs, Israeli hate is insignificant while Arab hate is truly horrifying. You will not hear any condemnations of Israeli hate fr. him. Only condemnation of Arab hate. And that’s why the pro-Israel right is bankrupt morally & in every other way.
I assure you that no Israeli progressive would ever murder Sharon, Netanyahu, Begin or Olmert… Perhaps not, however, the full story on the Rabin assassination has not been fully told. Why was Shin Bet head Carmi Gillon out of the country (France) the nite of the Rabin assassination? Why was Yigal Amir allowed near Rabin when he was a known troublemaker? Who shouted “they are blanks” at the Rabin assassination? These are questions posed by the Rabin family
Taking your assurance that progressives would not murder a prime minister, there is no doubt that some Israelis have lost their lives due to policies of progressives, ie supplying guns to the PA
Finally ,it is obvious that despite a great deal of bloodshed, the majority of Israelis are not adopting your version of progressiveness. You might consider them primitive, tribal. Why not abandon any pretense of support for Israel and instead codemn it as the worlds major source of violence and instability? Most European progressives have done just that.
Richard Silverstein says
Utterly preposterous. You wish to equate the assassination of an Israeli prime minister with supplying guns to the PA & say that progressives are therefore guilty of killing Israelis? Have you lost yr senses? Surely, you can’t be serious or if you are you can’t expect anyone here to take this dreck as anything other than that.
On the contrary. The more desperate the situation gets the more likely Israelis will eventually accept precisely my prescription for resolving the conflict. Actually, most Israelis already do; it’s there more conservative MKs who stand in the way.
Thanks for suggesting I become precisely the caricature that you would prefer so that you could pigeonhole me in the anti-Israel camp & so dismiss everything I say & stand for. No, I think I’ll retain my progressive Zionist values thanks & suggest that you offer yr advice somewhere else.
Sorry, I see it as more of an Ashkenazi-Sephardi thing. Most of the progressives are Ashkenazi, most of the victims (ie Sderot) are Sephardi. It is a statement of fact that Israelis have been killed by weapons supplied by Israel to the PA, most of these victims have been Sephardi. Your statement saying that I equated supplying the killing of Israelis with Israeli arms and the murder of a prime minister is typical Israeli arrogance. First, I never said anything of the kind, second your dismissal of the value of life of these nonfamous Sephardi individuals is frightening. If Qassams were raining down on the tony cafes of Sheinkin street, you might feel differently, but as long as the victims are swarthy wogs from Morrocco, then it is ok for brave sacrifices for “peace”
Richard Silverstein says
No, it’s not a statement of fact. It’s merely a claim made by you & other rightists. If it is a fact I’m sure you can provide evidence that it is. Do so.
Again, an unsupported claim.
But I’m not Israeli.
When have I even remotely “dismissed the value” of Sephardi lives?
Now, you’re just ranting & not even remotely making sense.
The majority of Sderot’s residents are Sephardim. I find you to be quite arrogant because you never admit to making a mistake, and dismiss other opinions as ranting. From the comfort of your home in Seattle, you have condemned Israel as an apartheid state since 1968. One of the reasons that Ashkenazim feel so comfortable demanding that Israel conforms to utopian views is that you have options if the utopian views fail. You can flee, like Joseph Burg did, to another country. You can choose not to serve in the army. Dan Halutz remarked in the last war, that the IDF wasnt making too many condolence calls to Tel Aviv. We have nowhere to go and this makes us less trusting of your utopian schemes. I daresay that Sderot and Netivot are worse off today than they were before the Oslo agreements, although I am sure that you would call that a rant and unproven allegation. I dare you to spend some time in Sderot. I dont know what you will fear more- Qassams or unwashed Jews from the Maghreb
Richard Silverstein says
I actually find YOU to be quite arrogant. You make assumptions about my view w/o bothering to check whether they are accurate. You are also lazy & ignorant. I have never condemned Israel as an apartheid state since 1968 or ever. I have condemned the Occupation & administration of the Territories as apartheid. That is diff. but the subtlety is lost on you. The Occupation began in 1967, not 1968 as you erroneously note. But that’s the least of yr problems.
I don’t know what you’re on about regarding the whole Ashkenazi/Sephardi dichotomy. One of the issues I’m exquisitely attuned to regarding Israel is ethnic inequities & I have enormous sympathy for the Mizrahi (I don’t know why you persist in using the term “Sephardi” which isn’t normally used in the sense that you use it) community & its struggles.
Joseph Burg never fled Israel. You’re thinking of his son, Avrum. And he didn’t “flee.” But hey, precision & accuracy aren’t things you’re known for.
Indeed they are because cynical politicians like Ehud Barak torpedo ceasefire talks for political gain. Had Israel not destroyed the chance for a ceasefire this time then Sderot actually had a chance to find peace & calm. It’s the Israeli pols who are gambling with the lives of Sderot’s residents.
And I dare you to spend some time in Gaza. Let me know when you’re willing to do that & then we can talk about me visiting Sderot. Besides, I don’t need to visit Sderot to empathize with its plight. I already do that.
I find these stupid provocative generalizations of my alleged views to be deeply offensive. My views about Mizrahim aren’t remotely as you characterize them. I’m about a millimeter away fr. banning you. So go right ahead & say something equally repugnant in yr next comment & I’ll be happy to accomodate you.